Friday, February 06, 2004

Breast! Ow!

A comment to a Crooked Timber post yesterday provides a link to this amazing story. You all know about Janet's right breast, right? It got revealed on national TV during Super Bowl halftime. (There's some controversy over whether it was intentional or not.) Well, a woman in Knoxville has filed a class action lawsuit, claiming that the viewing of the breast injured her and millions of other Super Bowl viewers.
Terri Carlin filed her lawsuit "on behalf of all Americans who watched the halftime show" in federal court in Knoxville. ... Carlin, who works at a Knoxville bank, said the exposure and "sexually explicit conduct" by other performers during the show injured viewers. "As a direct and proximate result of the broadcast of the acts, (Carlin) and millions of others saw the acts and were caused to suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury," the lawsuit filed by Knoxville attorney Wayne A. Ritchie II states. It doesn't specify the type of serious injury.
I love this country. Here's a confusing bit:
"All of the defendants knew that the Super Bowl, the pre-eminent sports event in the United States, would be watched by millions of families and children," Ritchie wrote. "Nevertheless, (they) included in the halftime show sexually explicit acts solely designed to garner publicity and, ultimately, to increase profits for themselves."
Is it just me, or is that entirely not the right thing to be complaining about at all? It's not like the lawsuit is charging CBS et al with capitalism -- of course they wanted to increase profits. They're supposed to make a case that they've wrongfully damaged us. And of course there's this part:
Because the game is broadcast worldwide, Ritchie also wrote that the actions harmed the "standing and credibility" of Americans throughout the world.
I'm no expert on the non-American world, but my impression is that in most non-United States places around the world, a breast on TV is even less of a big deal than it is here. I find it very likely that this silly lawsuit does more to harm the international standing and credibility of the American people around the world than Janet's breast. I'm curious how sincere this is. I wonder if she's genuinely offended, or whether it's more about
Carlin's lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages worth billions.
Money's fun. Suppose, hypothetically, that this class action lawsuit went to trial and was won. Would I get a cut of it? I'd like to amend this blog post by replacing every sentence in which I make clear my personal attitude toward the viewing of Janet Jackson's right breast with its negation.

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