Another day, another nipple controversy at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Should you want to, you can trace the Super Bowl’s complicated relationship with nipples all the way back to 2004, when Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson took to the stage during the halftime show to perform.
During a rendition of Rock Ya Body, Timberlake – accidentally? – exposed Jackson’s right breast. Of course, upon the sight of nipple – a perfectly natural and functional part of the female anatomy – chaos ensued.
So many people complained, the FCC got involved and investigated the so-called incident, eventually levying a $550,000 fine against CBS. But the courts overturned it, ruling networks had been given insufficient notice of what constituted indecency.
Meanwhile, the Timberlake/Jackson event has gone down in musical mythology with the question over intent or accident still unanswered, once and for all.
Since, we’ve seen other halftime performers come and go with no one getting in a fuss and bother over anyone’s nipples – until now.
In case you missed it, on Sunday February 3 in a stadium in Atlanta, Tom Brady got his sixth Super Bowl ring, the LA Rams are sad now, the Patriots won 13-3, and – team sports aside – Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi delivered what has been dubbed the ‘worst halftime show in history’.
It was pretty bland – the musical equivalent of mayonnaise according to one observer. But it wasn’t the music – surprisingly – which troubled a tribe of Twitter users.
It was Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine, and his shirtless nipple – and the double standard which it has come to symbolise – which upset some commentators.
I guess white guy nipples are cool on CBS. 🤷🏽♀️ #SuperBowl2019
— LeslieMac 🖤 (@LeslieMac) February 4, 2019
How come Adam Levine gets to show his nipples and Janet Jackson doesn’t
— Vivian Ho (@VivianHo) February 4, 2019
Indeed, the female nipple has been the subject of over-sexualisation and eroticised in the public conscious after centuries of the dominant male gaze, don’tcha know, from the Great Masters of art like Michaelangelo to modern day porn producers and people who don’t like public breastfeeding.
And, to be honest, it’s getting a bit old for all of us – the proud owners of nipples.
In light of Levine’s two nipples, in comparison to Janet’s one, someone said the Super Bowl nipple rules seemed ‘inconsistent’.
Super Bowl halftime nipple rules feel inconsistent
— Katie Nolan (@katienolan) February 4, 2019
The observation is absolutely correct. Or at least it shows CBS has one rule for men and another for women when it comes to nipples – even though the female nipple, with its life-giving formula, is a far superior piece of kit, if you ask me.
Yet, over 10 years have passed since 2004… And that’s plenty of time for the rules to rightfully change to free the nipple – and societal shackles of inequality – for all.
In the subsequent decade and a half, it seems some societal beliefs have moved on enough to recognise this represents an equality between the sexes which is still perpetrated – even in these small ways – today.
So, thank you to Adam Levine’s nipples for helping people note we’ve still got a little way to go until we reach that lovely Utopian equal society.
Maybe we’ll have got there by the next Super Bowl.
If you have a story you want to tell, share it with UNILAD via [email protected]