Ms. Jackson If You’re Skanky

Monday, September 22nd, 2008 | SMASH Pop Culture with

We really hope this doesn’t get more attention. We mean it. This video clip serves no escapist or entertainment purpose. Of course it is NSFW, and even saying this seems far too lenient. No one should or would derive any pleasure by watching a second of this most ultimate of fame-whorish trash that has been seen recently in celebrity-dom. No, you can’t catch it on TMZ or Perez Hilton, or even the more mainstream celebutard magazine sites like People or US Weekly. Nope, this one’s far too crude and lascivious. In fact, we’d say it’s exploitative because it is also profoundly distressing.

On September 13, 2008, Janet Jackson brought her enormous and elaborately-staged show to the Oracle Arena in Oakland Arena for her “Rock Witchu” tour. It’s been a tough year for Miss Janet. Her last album, “Discipline”, which featured several interludes of her talking to a computer named Keiko, was a disappointment, both commercially and artistically. This is Janet’s third (or so) failed comeback for her, and her career has been in a consistent freefall in the past few years, especially since she bared her famous breasts to the world during the Super Bowl in Houston in 2004.

So what’s a girl gotta do –a girl of 42, mind you –to restore a career as one of the most pre-eminent female R&B singers, up there with Mariahs, Mary J. Bliges and Alicia Keys, etc? Well, for one thing she has to spend millions even going on a nationwide tour in the first place. Indeed, this is one elaborate production that will produce a staggering 27-song set, according to a recent Perez posting. Perez himself revealed a couple of months ago, unabashed fan of Miss Nasty that he is, that her own record company actually stopped promoting her latest release. (I’d say her publicity people pushed the wrong song as the first “single”, but I digress.) That’s tough, since it’s also unclear whether her label is paying for her to stage her entire tour. Or that they had even approved all the dance numbers and choreographed sequences onstage. After all, this is the artist who has pretty much built her career on these routines since the late 80s.

So I wonder who it is that green-lighted a lengthy sequence, built around one of her current CD tracks called “Discipline”, in which Miss J plucks a man out of the audience, straps him up to a table, then turns him over on his back while she kisses him and, um, dry-rides him? The gentleman is totally beside himself in excitement; Miss Janet seems a bit pouty and aloof. Around them on stage are other leather-strapped males slinking around the couple as if it’s a ritualistic offering of some sort. I really hate to say this, but one blog has reported that the gentleman in question actually managed to bring himself to, um, a “happy ending”. (His loud scream notwithstanding, I wonder how this was proven.) The musical performance ends just as abruptly.

Now mind you, there have been countless performers who have simulated sex on stage. The undulations of Prince during his Purple Rain Tour in 1985 comes to mind, but surely there are others, such as R Kelly and Akon, and we know that these last two ended up having to face a judge themselves. But Janet Jackson? I mean, now? What kind of self-respect does she not have for herself? Picking a stranger out of the audience may be titillating and an instant gimmick for the audience. But is there any justification for such an overtly sexual performance by someone who is primarily a musical artist. Last I
Janet Jackson
was getting slammed
with some
poor reviews
Last I checked, Janet Jackson was getting slammed with some poor reviews for her music –that it was derivative and overly mechanical. Is this the way back to musical credibility? By essentially (and virtually) having intercourse on stage with a complete stranger, she has become the sexualized caricature who has lost it all. [NB: Ann Powers of the LA Times suggests in her review of Jackson’s show at the Staples Center that it may be the same guy there, thus a “plant”. That just makes this all the more cynical.] It doesn’t matter that she attempts to be the aggressor here, in S&M style, with whips and chains. She submits because she believes most pitifully and desperately that she still “has it” –that all she needs to do is show off her sexuality because she thinks we want to see it stripped bare. It’s not that she is a woman and shouldn’t flaunt it; again, there are plenty of women who do this; the Pussycat Dolls are a daily example of this.

Such behavior by Miss Jackson isn’t surprising. She is the one who flashed her breast during that Super Bowl, and shamelessly tried to play it off as an “accident”. She knew what she was doing and she knows what she did now. (Scratch that: it’s not just her, it’s her handlers/enablers who are happy to be on her payroll.) Justin Timberlake was seen as someone who betrayed her by not coming to her defense and by formally apologizing soon after Breastgate. He didn’t. He steered clear because he was set up all along. Four years later, it appears that Jackson still feels the need to flaunt herself wherever she goes in the interest of selling publicity and a few more CDs.

Something else must be going on, and it’s probably more painful. This is a woman who has experienced tremendous emotional stress and abuse in her life, not just as youngest sibling in the Jackson family, but she too went through the high pressure lifestyle and mistreatment at the hands of her despotic father, Joe. Not to become too pop psychological, but it would appear that her desperate display of her sexuality is a way of seeking affection. I know it’s a stretch and I don’t know her personally of course, but she has been a celebrity figure with a host of emotional issues in her career. The one that may have some relevance is her issue with body image. Here is someone who has lied about her weight losses and yo-yo dieting, a person who has cultivated a distinctly sexual persona while simultaneously presenting a demure innocence whenever she speaks publicly. You’ve seen her. She’ll be on “Ellen” or some VH-1 special and she’ll invariably appear in a strapless gown that’s two sizes too small on the top, or some décolletage that would appear to squeeze her mounds way too tight as if she were spilling out for dear life. Rarely has there been a singer recently who has been defined by her top-heavy look, and not for her musical talent.

But maybe this is Miss Janet’s own doing. She could care less about her music anymore and she is maybe just tossing in her cynical towel. Her guru/husband/infant Jermaine Dupri probably feels this is the last lap for his wife, but I wonder how he feels condoning this kind of lewd behavior each night on stage. At a time when our younger generations are being pelted daily with overt sexual images and force-fed destructive ideas about how (Caucasian) women are supposed to comply with male ideals of body shape, this video clip helps absolutely no one. Except, well, maybe for the just-spent dude who got the ride of his life. Or whatever cheap tawdry ploy this all turns out to be in the end.

[Via dlisted]

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