February 11, 2004
show wasn't super
was more than just disappointed in the Super Bowl halftime
show last weekend. I was repulsed. Not only the Janet
Jackson "accident" but also the entire show
was a crude display of classless and badly misdirected
talent. Do you have any idea why CBS would give such a
display even a second thought?
Janet Jackson decision to cross lines of propriety speaks
volumes about integrity, or the lack of it. Certainly,
poor judgment was evident in lots of circles related to
the airing of an "event" that has been bankrolled
by advertising directed to mass markets for all age groups.
CBS apparently denies that its executives knew anything
about what was to happen. But according to news reports,
CBS chose to broadcast Sunday night's Grammy Awards show
on a slight delay in order to monitor words and actions
that might be inappropriate. We know that when institutions
and individuals do not regulate themselves, governments
and other agencies and powers can and will.
Even though Jackson has said changes in her Super Bowl
act on Feb. 1 were her responsibility, plenty of questions
remain. Was this a one-time event or does it signal an
erosion of what is acceptable in prime time? Did Jackson
make a mistake, or was it simply about the money that
can be leveraged by those who have mastered the use and
abuse of the media?
If and when the dust settles, one fact will become clear:
Irresponsible actions by a small group, even an individual
or a small team, can make things tough on the overwhelming
majority of folks who say what they are going to do and
then go ahead and do what they promised.
For Jackson's own personal satisfaction and gratification,
at least so it appears, she violated her promise to behave
and entertain a world audience in a certain way.
Her actions likely will cause financial pain for others
(entertainers, agents, television organizations, etc.)
when they are required to construct even more stringent
contractual relationships with one another, to prevent
future "shocks and embarrassments" for sponsors,
venue owners, program directors and collaborators.
Her carelessness -- as it creates more work for attorneys
and managers and increases the costs of doing business
-- will then be passed along to fans. Also, this irresponsible
behavior encourages powerful elements of society to reinstate
constraints that inhibit legitimate creativity.
The silver lining may be that Jackson's actions will cause
many to think more about the proper role for public figures
They are supposed to model admirable behaviors, including
appreciation, humility and self-discipline. When celebrities
ignore their moral contract with their fans, they have
lost sight of the real truth, namely, that Integrity Matters.