What Janet Wrought: Nip Slip Revisited

|

The FCC declines to extricate itself from Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction:

The government is renewing its crackdown on indecent television, proposing a total of $3.9 million in new fines while upholding its $550,000 fine against CBS stations for the Janet Jackson breast exposure at the Super Bowl.

The biggest proposed fine issued Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission was for $3.6 million—a record—against dozens of CBS stations and affiliates. The FCC said an episode of the CBS crime drama "Without a Trace" that aired in December 2004 was indecent, citing the graphic depiction of "teenage boys and girls participating in a sexual orgy."

CBS reassures us that the show was actually a well disguised public service announcement; the program "featured an important and socially relevant storyline warning parents to exercise greater supervision of their teenage children." The AP report also points to the avalanche of complaints the FCC received between 2002 and 2005. In Reason's March issue, Jacob Sullum notices that in 2003 and 2004, over 99 percent of non-nipplegate related indecency complaints came from one, single, perpetually shocked source: The Parents Television Council.

Archive of celebrity nipple slips here.

NEXT: Thou Sayest, Hannity

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. WTF! The Reason Pillow Girl just popped up on the TRUE banner next to my hotmail! What gives!

  2. That was totally on purpose. Believe me, I would know!

  3. an episode of the CBS crime drama “Without a Trace” that aired in December 2004 was indecent, citing the graphic depiction of “teenage boys and girls participating in a sexual orgy.”

    Dang! How’d I miss that?

  4. ..and thanks to the FCC a drama that almost no one watched will probably jump to the top of youtube.

    What is with these fines? How does they government justify fining a negligent mining operation where people die a whopping $6K, but CBS gets whacked for $3.5M?

  5. vanya: Uhh…visible tits sink ships?

    Why don’t they just turn over the keys to the FCC to the PTC and get it done with. They would only need to change two letters on the door.

  6. Has anybody seen the episode in question? Exactly what does the FCC/PTC consider “graphic”?

  7. The worst part of nipplegate fallout, is the return of the audible bleep. Cutting out the dirty words altogether is really annoying. Often they cut so much out you can’t even make sense of what’s left. Cleaning up the dialog by overdubbing with puritan friendly words isn’t as bad, but the resulting stupidity is still distracting. Just suppressing the audio and leaving silence during the naughty bits is probably the least asinine way to make the nanny’s happy. But that goddamned beep over every other word is just insufferable.

    Hey FCC, FUCK YOU!

  8. “Dang! How’d I miss that?”

    Yes, I was wondering that too.

  9. Has anybody seen the episode in question? Exactly what does the FCC/PTC consider “graphic”?

    I’m pretty sure I saw that episode–it was about a runaway teenage girl who had been involved in said orgy. There was absolutely nothing graphic shown that I recall–not even nearly at the state of undress of the Reason StosselCrotch Girl–and I’m such a perv that I *would* recall it quite clearly if it had existed! šŸ™‚

    I think the fine was just for them showing teens in any state of dress engaged in such activity–remember, this is a penalty for “indecency” rather than “obscenity.”

  10. now i’m assuming that the fcc has had an open complaint about these incidents for some time and are just now getting around to levying the fines. (i just noticed that none of the incidents seem all that recent.)

    at least i hope that’s the case. i mean, the ptc can’t just sit around and go through archives to search for indecency and seek punishments…can they?

    “say sue, remember that episode of saved by the bell when zack kissed kelly back in ’91? didn’t that seem a bit racy to you?”

    “now that i think about it, yeah, it was kinda racy – let’s write the fcc!”

    i know they’re not a court, but surely there are statutes of limitations on such administrative rulings.

  11. I saw the nip.
    I saw the nip slip.

  12. What do I care if the FCC and the PTC kill off CBS? Once again, I am hoping that they really do some damage to the media so the media will take the right-wing threat seriously instead of pandering to it. When was the last time they bothered to ask any tough questions of the politicians (like Hillary Clinton or, God help us, Rick Santorum) who eagerly align themselves with the Bowdlerizers?

    To hell with CBS…why would I defend someone who won’t even defend themselves?

  13. By the way, the whole indecency thing is crapola for “Without A Trace” regardless of whether you believe in that shit, or whether the show really was racy. It comes on a 10pm, when all of the good Christian boys and girls are presumably in bed dreaming about God.

    This one kinda irks me more than most, because “Without A Trace” is one of the better shows on network TV…certainly better than the various CSI and Law & Order shows and their ripoffs.

  14. “i know they’re not a court, but surely there are statutes of limitations on such administrative rulings.”

    As I understand it, each time the “indecent” material is broadcast, a new violation occurs. (The “Bubba the Love Sponge” FCC fine involved a repeat of a broadcast where no complaints were made the first time, IIRC.)

  15. I’ll show you mine…

  16. Re: statutes of limitations.

    As long as the original complaint was filed with the FCC within the required time limit, the agency can presumably take as long as it wants to come to a decision. I don’t know if there is some kind of timeline for decisionmaking, but given how ambiguous the FCC’s decency enforcement powers are in general, I’d guess not.

    This stuff is all based off of citizen complaints–the FCC doesn’t go around looking for this stuff, and I’m pretty sure the staff members (as opposed to some of the commissioners) aren’t big crusaders on this issue. This adds a whole new workload to an agency that is already up to its ears in dealing with regulatory pissing matches between the big communications companies.

  17. Ya got to nip it. Nip it in the boob,…er, BUD!

  18. Typical of you do-gooder liberal slime merchants that you would besmirch a holy holiday like St. Patrick’s Day with a scantily-clad slut on your “Hit & Run” page. I and my legions of dedicated followers (all twelve of them) fully intend to take this to the FCC.

    Just as soon as I finish inspecting my latest bowel movement…

  19. In Reason’s March issue, Jacob Sullum notices that in 2003 and 2004, over 99 percent of non-nipplegate related indecency complaints came from one, single, perpetually shocked source: The Parents Television Council.

    And why should the PTC have all the fun? Why can’t, say, the readers of Reason exercise their right to flood the mailboxes of the FCC with their complaints about material they find objectionable?

    Well, we can. Go check out my new (less than two hours old!) blog, …that’s offensiv! Check back later tonight for my very first update – our first campaign against broadcast indecency starts tonight!

  20. You know what I think? I think that if these so called parents were doing their jobs, we wouldn’t have a problem with a little nippleage or vulgarity. Parents are supposed to be teaching their kids this stuff! Besides, the way the world is going these days, it’s better to teach then sooner than later. So Janet speeded up the process of you having a one on one with your kid about the birds and the bees. This day in age, kids are giving their PARENTS the one on one. The problem with America is that we are trying to look “innocent” compared to other country’s and it’s a farce. What’s next PTC? You gonna complain about the ice skaters or the gymnasts with their crotch shots? or how about this why don’t we just start burning people at the stake? Because this is nothing more than a modern day witch hunt.

  21. Parents are supposed to be teaching their kids this stuff! Besides, the way the world is going these days, it’s better to teach then sooner than later.

    Not hardly. At least not over at the PTC.

    I ground my teeth through a local meeting by these folks in a “know your enemy” exercise.

    Apparently, once you are weaned you should not be exposed to any woman’s nipple until your wedding night. And even then it would really be better if your wife didn’t pull her flannel nighty up that far.

    BTW, that includes any depiction of a nipple, including photography, drawings, sculptures, written descriptions, computer graphics, etc. In fact you shouldn’t even imagine seeing one.

    Wouldn’t want to, you know, have an unwanted emission.

    The sad part is most of you probably think I’m being sarcastic or exaggerating.

  22. “Cleaning up the dialog by overdubbing with puritan friendly words isn’t as bad, but the resulting stupidity is still distracting.”

    Yippee Kai-yay, Mister Fortune.

  23. Hey, Kerry, isn’t that you posing as Reason’s bikini subscription girl these last couple months? Great idea, fighting the War Against Prudery on the home front!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.