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Jackson Reaction Seems Odd
Nicholas Johnson

"Sunday Q&A"
["Sunday Q&A is a weekly discussion with a local expert on a current issue."]

By Brandon Campbell

Iowa City Press-Citizen
February 8, 2004
p. 3A

This week's Q&A is with Nicholas Johnson, a University of Iowa visiting law professor and former commissioner for the Federal Communications Commission (1966-73).

Johnson offers his perspective a week after Janet Jackson's controversial halftime show during the Super Bowl.

Is this incident as offensive as it's being hyped up to be?

There's so much wrong with TV today, including items one could collect from Super Bowl commercials. It strikes me as being odd that the focus is on the Janet Jackson publicity stunt.

What did you find offensive about the performance, if you found anything at all?

In fact, I didn't see the incident as it occurred. But in seeing the replays, what I saw most offensive was the symbolism of a white man tearing the clothes off a black woman's breast. There's nothing sexual about the performance, but art is symbolism.

Has the FCC taken the right approach in dealing with the situation by investigating the halftime show?

I don't think the FCC should be getting involved in a case like this. Has Michael Powell ever looked at the Howard Stern show and does he see anything obscene about pitching beer to kids? Does he feel offended that people have to turn to the BBC to get accurate news? It's the decline of the American Empire.

Given the statements made by all parties immediately after the Super Bowl, do you think that they all reacted appropriately?

I think that all parties' reactions, from the FCC to the media conglomerates to the entertainers, are hypocrisy.

Do you think the incident was intentional?

(Jackson) acknowledges that it was intentional, based on her statement. If you want to start looking at inappropriate use of sexuality, you have to look at commercials and ads.