MusicDish e-Journal - November 24, 2017
MusicDish Advertising Network
Search MusicDish e-Journal (Advanced)
Subscribe To MusicDish e-Journal
About | Contact | Advertise | RSS | Submit Article | Submit News | Artist Development | Premium PR Distribution
Mi2N | MusicDish*China | MusicDish Network | MusicDishTV | Urban Music News Network

What Can We Learn From Janet Jackson’s Breast?
By Aaron Minsky a.k.a. Von Cello
(more articles from this author)
Comment | Email | Print | RSS

Recently, in a performance during half time at the Super Bowl, one of Janet Jackson’s breasts was released on national television. That is a simple fact, but it has caused a massive controversy from coast to coast. You may wonder what is the big deal, but Janet Jackson’s breast is a very big deal!

I don’t wish to comment on the morality of her display of nudity. The fact that there were children watching at that moment is not my concern. I’ll leave that debate to the spiritual leaders and the politicians. What concerns me, are the musical implications of her few seconds of controversy. What does Ms. Jackson’s breast say about the state of music in America in 2004?

There was a time when being an expert at playing an instrument would lead to fame. This was particularly true if you could compose and play your own compositions. In this category we think of Chopin, Liszt and Paganinni. In more modern times, musicians who could not compose but who were great instrumentalists became famous worldwide. The names Casals, Heifitz, and Horowitz come to mind. In the field of jazz, one had to be an expert improviser, and a good tunesmith, to win fame. In this category, we think of Dizzy Guillespie, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane.

With the birth of rock n’ roll, all that changed. To be fair, for the most part, in the early days of rock, to get noticed you had to be a decent instrumentalist and have some kind of a distinctive sound. But very early on, a man rose to prominence in rock who became so influential he was dubbed “The King.” That man was Elvis Presley, yet Elvis was hardly a guitar virtuoso! What Elvis did was not so much about being a trained musician as it was about being a performer, creating an image, and stirring up controversy. The main buzz about Elvis was the way he shook his pelvis. Though he was quite a good singer, it was his sensual persona that brought him his fame. In this, he set the pattern for many who would follow in his footsteps; people who are not so much musicians, as musical entertainers, or performance artists, commonly known simply as “artists”.

A decade after Elvis hit it big, the rock “artist” was still looking for a way to be noticed. In the sixties, the way to be noticed was to do drugs and get wild on stage. A good example of this was Jim Morrison. He happened to have a powerful singing voice, but his image, that of an out of control drunk liable to do anything, helped earn him his fame. In fact, Morrison was arrested for indecent exposure. His antics created a constant stream of publicity, but it also took a toll. The attacks on him by the police and the press, not to mention the lawsuits and court appearances, became overwhelming. It was not long before Morrison was found dead of an overdose of drugs. A disease that also afflicted Elvis and many other artists.

Around the time of Morrison, rock had matured to the point where there were some excellent musicians on the scene. Jimi Hendrix was considered the greatest rock guitarist of the time, yet even Hendrix had to do more than ply his craft to get noticed. Hendrix used to set his guitars on fire as he kneeled sensuously over the flames. Other rock groups would break their guitars, smash amplifiers and keyboards and commit other acts of violence to get noticed. Ozzy Osborne distinguished himself by biting off the head of a bird, and routinely biting the heads off of rubber bats on stage. This trend, of the violent musician, reached its zenith with the Plasmatics, a band that I actually played with for a short while. (They added a string quartet to their madness for some reason.) Admittedly marginal musicians, they became known for chain sawing guitars and chairs, smashing televisions with sledgehammers, and ultimately blowing up whole cars on stage!

Back on the solo artist side, performers kept trying to push the envelope. In the 1980’s, Madonna burst upon the scene. Like a female Elvis, she was a good singer, but became known for her sexuality. In concert, Madonna would hump on a bed or on the floor as if she were masturbating. She also brought in a heavy S & M presence to her stage act, including spankings, whips and chains, and the treating of her dancers as sex slaves. With each CD she pushed further, attacking sexual taboos involving race and religion. She also included nudity in videos and in a coffee table book that bordered on pornography.

She seemed to spawn the next generation of female artists who were even more determined to use sexuality to the fullest. Artists like Brittney Spears and others played on taboos such as the naughty schoolgirl, and the wild girl. They showed as much skin as they could without actually becoming naked, and they made a practice of using the most suggestive dance moves imaginable. On the Hip Hop side of the track, images of guys with multiple girlfriends in hot tubs or in expensive cars or homes became popular. Grinding dance moves with girls in skimpy outfits became standard video fare. One artist, Snoop Dogg, actually crossed over to porn, becoming a player in the “Girls Gone Wild” videos of late night TV fame.

Which brings us back to Janet Jackson’s breast. The whole nation was treated to a view of Janet’s large round breast, with her pierced nipple surrounded by some type of jewelry piece that looked like a star. With the removal of a little swatch of material, in a matter of seconds, Ms. Jackson crossed a line that no one dared cross before. She was naked on national television on prime time during a family entertainment event! No longer can hinting at sex be considered pushing the envelope: the envelope is open! Is what she did pornographic? Perhaps one could argue that one breast is performance art, but two breasts would be porn. Perhaps one could argue that even two breasts are performance art, but exposure “underneath” would be porn. Perhaps one could argue that full frontal nudity is where this is all going. Maybe we are going back the days of burlesque, the days of Gypsy Rose Lee, when an “act” consisted of a woman singing while stripping. Performances like Janet’s certainly open the door to this possibility. Of course, Gypsy did not strip on television during prime time, but maybe that is what is necessary to finally bring this trend to its conclusion.

Breasts and other parts of the female anatomy will always be a source of fascination, but I would like to know one thing: Where’s the music?! What happened to practicing hours a day, studying music theory, harmony, counterpoint, improvisation, performance practice? What happened to spirituality, to expressing deep, meaningful ideas through sound? What happened to becoming famous because you are a really great musician … even if you don’t shake your pelvis, smash your guitar, or show your bosom?

Is it possible that, with Ms. Jackson’s highly public performance, we are beginning to reach the end of sexuality replacing musicianship? Perhaps the pendulum will swing back to the situation where a highly trained, dedicated musician can become famous just for being a great musician. It is with this hope and with this dream that I have been promoting my cello fronted rock band, Von Cello.

If you agree that the trend toward performance art has gone far enough, and it is time to reintroduce musicianship to the world of popular music, please support those bands and soloists who are out there trying to make it happen. I am not saying that there is no room in the musical world for Janet Jackson’s breast, or any other part of her anatomy, or anyone else’s body parts for that matter! Certainly, promotion was, and always will be, a part of being a musician. What I am saying is that there should also be room in the musical world for those who choose to excel at playing their instruments and singing their hearts out!

Home » Insider Scoop » What Can We Learn From Janet Jackson’s Breast?
Email |Print |Comment |RSS

back | top

MusicDish Advertising Network

Insider Scoop

» Streaming & Listening Diversity - Spotify Case Study

» Pandora Subscriber Base Grows to Over 5 Million

» Music Industry Betting On VR & AR For New Revenue

» Sound Royalties Unearths Millions in Undistributed Royalties

» Indie Labels Represent Over A Third Of Global Recorded Music Market

Insider Scoop Directory

» [2017-11-21] Joint Statement By The Nordic Musicians' Unions And British Musicians' Union; Discussions On The Issue Of Gender Inequality, Sexism And Sexual Harassment, The Scale Of Which Had Been Highlighted By The Recent #metoo Campaign

» [2017-11-13] Women Make An Impact On The 2018 MPG Awards Shortlist; Nearly A Quarter Of Those Named This Year Are Female, Proving That Music Production Is No Longer A Bastion For The Boys

» [2017-11-13] The Nashville Musicians Sound Healthcare Plan Rolls Out; Sound Healthcare & Financial Announced The Formation Of A True Group Health Insurance Policy Plan For Musicians And Industry Professionals

» [2017-11-09] Streaming & Listening Diversity - Spotify Case Study; Will Artists Have An Easier Time Finding An Audience, Or Will Streaming Focus Global Attention On A Small Number Of Stars?

» [2017-11-09] Two-Sides Of Copyright Finance: Sound Royalties & Kobalt; Sound Royalties Unearths Millions In Undistributed Royalties While Kobalt Launches Fund To Invest In Music Copyright

» [2017-11-08] Career Moves: ROLI, Live Nation Sweden, Music Glue, BBR Music Group, Warner/Chappell Music Spain & Blue Night Soundscapes; ROLI Chief Creative Officer, Live Nation Sweden Managing Directors, Music Glue Global Head Of Business Development, BBR Music Group VP Of International, Warner/Chappell Music Spain Managing Director And Blue Night Director Of Music Clearance

» [2017-11-08] Europe's Digital Music Leaders Form Alliance; European Digital Music Companies Launch Of Digital Music Europe

» [2017-11-05] Pandora Subscriber Base Grows To Over 5 Million; Pandora Premium Paid Subscribers Cross The 1 Million Milestone In October 2017

» [2017-11-05] Hybrid Studios Announces Online Mastering Services; Engineers Billy Klein And Brian Frederick Spearhead New Online Mastering Effort Through OC Studio

» [2017-11-05] Music Industry Betting On VR & AR For New Revenue; The Music Industry Is Making An Early Bet On VR & AR To Create New Revenue Streams Across All Their Lines Of Business

» [2017-11-04] Sound Royalties Unearths Millions In Undistributed Royalties; Nearly $14 Million In Undistributed Royalties Has Been Found By Music-focused Finance Firm Sound Royalties

» [2017-11-02] MusicDish*China October China Label Music Releases And Charts; Several Tracks From October Releases Have Charted On Chinese Music Portal Kanjian ING Top 10 Weekly Chart
MusicDish Advertising Network

follow MusicDish on
Follow MusicDish on Twitter

Mi2N Music PR

Hybrid Studios To Sponsor Unsigned Only 2018

Twice The Holiday Feel-Good Vibe From NYC Indie Rockers

LOVE MY COUNTRY! Is The Ultimate Compilation Series Featuring 20 Hot New Hits

Getting Restless

Your Favorite Color Releases "Heartache"

Melvin Alan Album "Wonderful Life"

Jean Louisa Kelly Presents A Personal Collection Of Songs From The American Standards And Musical Theater

Websites: Mi2N | MusicDish*China | MusicDish Network | MusicDishTV | Urban Music News Network
Services: Submit Article | Submit News | Submit Video | Artist Development | Premium PR Distribution

Copyright © 1997-2017 MusicDish LLC., all rights reserved.
About MusicDish e-Journal | Contact Us | Advertise | RSS | Internships