Delayed Reaction at Oscars

Janet Jackson’s breast is becoming a popular culture touchstone. A passing knowledge of her CBS halftime stunt and the indecency backlash it helped to create is now apparently required cultural literacy.

On last night’s ABC Oscar telecast, Lord of the Oscars Peter Jackson accepted his best director award for The Return of the King by saying: "Fantasy is an F-word that I hope the five-second delay won’t have any problem with."

"Damn" and "nipple" appeared to be OK with ABC, with both surviving the trigger fingers on the delay.

Another high-profile reference to the indecency issue was a bit by Billy Crystal in which he supplied the thoughts for stars singled out in the audience. When the camera cut to Julie Andrews, Crystal said: "God, this sunburst nipple broach is killing me."

The suggestion that Andrews might be ready to bare a breast in the Jackson mold was not entirely out of left field. She was there with husband Blake Edwards, who was being honored for his body of work. One of those bodies was Andrews, who shocked many when she agreed to do a topless turn in Blake’s Hollywood parody, S.O.B.

A clip of Andrews from the movie just at the moment before she dramatically takes off her top was included in the montage, and though it lasted only a fraction of a second, the Jackson evocation was there.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.