It’s the end of the world as we know it! Okay, it’s not all THAT bad, but the way some people are talking, Katy Perry’s boobies on Sesame Street outrank health care reform, the upcoming political election, sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and even (*gasp*) Lady Gaga’s meat dress and Lindsay Lohan’s court date in importance of topics to discuss. But they’re still slightly less talked-about than the recent Facebook outages; so on the evilness scale, Perry’s cleavage comes in at around five, below Hitler, those jerks responsible for messing up Facebook, the League of Doom, and Justin Bieber. And if you’re wondering, yes, I did get this information from Twitter.
While I’m not a Katy Perry fan, I watched the video and didn’t think anything of her outfit. Sure, I understand that she’s generally not considered a wholesome entertainer, but I know that Sesame Street benefits from popular celebrity endorsement. So while I questioned the logic of having Katy Perry on the show simply because she’s Katy Perry, I never thought to question the dress. Frankly, I’ve seen more revealing clothes on some of the princesses at Disney World (you heard me, Tinkerbell and Ariel.)
Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it. If you can take your eyes off her chest for a moment, you’ll see that her facial expressions are kind of epically cute.
Personally, I didn’t find her boobs that offensive and I doubt most young children think of them as anything other than a food source, but I can understand how some parents could see a person who, when she’s not chasing monsters around Sesame Street, advocates “innocently” making out with random people before even bothering to get their names as inappropriate for the preschool crowd. Add in some tiny amount of sexual suggestiveness, and you have a hoard of outraged people on your hands.
The wardrobe people at The Sesame Street Workshop should have seen this coming because this isn’t the first time inappropriate dress or behavior has been an issue in our society, and it won’t be the last.
Back in 2009, 24-year-old Meghan McCain, daughter of former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, tweeted about her spontaneous night in with an Andy Warhol biography and take out. And attached to that tweet was a Twitpic photo of McCain holding the book she was reading wearing a black tank top. Oh, and she was also showing so much cleavage in the picture that Katy Perry and many Playboy Bunnies would be envious.
I suppose it goes without saying, but this attempt at humor, as McCain later claimed it to be, triggered a wave of offense from her many conservative followers. Some even resorted to profane name calling, leaving the young woman hurt and considering deleting her Twitter account. She later issued an apology and was quoted as saying “When I am alone in my apartment, I wear tank tops and sweat pants, I had no idea this makes me a ‘slut’.”
Also in 2009, teens from all over tuned in to watch the annual Teen Choice Awards that honors many entertainers who are popular with the youth along with do-gooders and extraordinary achievers. Not a stranger to controversy, the Teen Choice awards had been criticized before by the Parents Television Council, a conservative media watchdog group, for Nelly Furtado’s and Timbaland’s performance of the song “Promiscuous” in 2006, stating that the song sent the wrong message to impressionable teenagers.
In 2009, however, during her performance of “Party in the U.S.A” Hannah Montana star, then sixteen-year-old Miley Cyrus, adorned in a tank top and hip-hugging short shorts, hopped on an ice cream cart with a pole, grabbed the pole, and took a slightly erotic-dance-styled dip. After the dip, the “pole dance” was pretty tame, but because it brought to mind strippers and erotica and because Cyrus had previously been criticized about risqué photos, including a controversial set for Vanity Fair, this performance stirred up a great deal of offense and is still used as a reference for people arguing that Miley Cyrus isn’t appropriate for children.
Now you can’t talk about any improper “wardrobe malfunctions” without mentioning the incident that birthed that term. Yes, I mean the 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show Controversy. If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a very brief summary of what happened:
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake were involved in an MTV-produced halftime show performance that included many suggestive dance moves, that, while acceptable in music videos, isn’t generally seen in the middle of the family-friendly Super Bowl. Though this alone may have caused some viewers offense, it really broke their limits when, during the performance of “Rock Your Body,” Timberlake sang the line “Bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song,” and then reached over and ripped away a piece of Jackson’s costume, revealing her full right breast covered only by a nipple shield. The exposure didn’t last long, only nine-sixteenths of a second, but the aftermath was enormous.
After this incident, the FCC began cracking down hard. Things that were ignored prior to the Super Bowl were now reevaluated and censored. This included the removal of rear-male nudity from daytime soap operas, changing suggestive songs in live performances to other non-sexual songs (For example, Beyoncé Knowles was asked to perform “Crazy in Love” instead of “Naughty Girl” at the 2004 NBA All-Star Game), the cancellation of the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and the firing shock jock Howard Stern from Clear Channel Communications. Additionally, MTV was banned from ever producing another NFL halftime show.
Will Katy Perry’s Sesame Street cleavage trigger the same level of FCC censorship as the Super Bowl Controversy? I doubt it. The video was never actually aired on television and Perry’s clothing more than met the FCC standards for decency. If anything, it may make Sesame Street put more consideration into the wardrobe of its guests and remind parents that they should monitor their children’s television viewing instead of just assuming everything’s going to live up to their personal decency standards.
The Teen Choice Awards at Wikipedia
Sports Illustrated: CBS Apologizes for Halftime Breast Airing
Soap Central: FCC Says Soaps May Need to be Cleaned Up
NBA.Com: Beyonce to Preform at All-Star Halftime Show
PBS: Clear Channel to Pay Record Fine for Indecency Charges
CNN Money: Victoria’s Secret is Out
USA Today: NFL to Ensure Superclean Super Bowl