Film director Spike Lee criticized Janet Jackson’s surprise breast-baring during the Super Bowl halftime show last weekend as a “new low” of attention-getting antics by entertainers.
There has been a decline in artistry, Lee said while speaking at Kent State University’s regional campus in Stark County, Ohio, on Tuesday night.
Lee said it’s not enough to be a good singer, and that entertainers “have to do something extra” — such as the openmouthed kiss Madonna gave Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera during the MTV Video Music Awards in August.
“What’s gonna be next? It’s getting crazy, and it’s all down to money. Money and fame,” said Lee, the director of “Malcolm X” and “Do the Right Thing.” “Somehow the whole value system has been upended.”
Jackson issued another apology in a videotape released to the media. The pop star had apologized Monday night in a written statement.
“I am really sorry if I offended anyone. That was truly not my intention,” she said. “MTV, CBS, the NFL had no knowledge of this whatsoever, and unfortunately, the whole thing went wrong in the end.”
At the end of their duet Sunday, Justin Timberlake snatched off part of Jackson’s bustier on stage, revealing a breast clad only in a sun-shaped “nipple shield” to some 89 million viewers.
Jackson’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Holiner, said a red lace garment was supposed to remain when Timberlake tore off the outer covering. But widespread questions remained about the intent.
The one-second flashing continued to cause reverberations Tuesday, as CBS said it would institute a video delay system to avoid any recurrence at the Grammy awards.
Timberlake, who is nominated for five Grammy Awards, is scheduled to perform on Sunday’s telecast. Jackson is supposed to present an award.
“Unfortunately, we cannot count on those who appear on our air to live up to our standards,” said Martin Franks, CBS executive vice president.
CBS faces a Federal Communications Commission investigation into whether the Super Bowl show violated decency laws, with potential fines of up to $27,500. If applied to each CBS station, the fine could reach into the millions.
FCC chief Michael Powell said Tuesday that the agency had begun a formal investigation, and a letter was sent to CBS. “It’s well under way,” he said.
All five commissioners expressed concern about the Super Bowl broadcast, but Powell declined to speculate on what the FCC would do once the investigation was finished.
Powell said he wasn’t happy with the halftime show in general, which featured performances by Nelly and Kid Rock before the bump-and-grind duet with Jackson and Timberlake. Nelly gestured toward his crotch, while Kid Rock draped himself in an American flag-designed poncho.
Tom Freston, chairman of MTV Networks, said he welcomed the FCC’s investigation, which he said will prove that the show’s producers and broadcasters had no prior knowledge of the stunt. MTV produced the halftime show.
“We were really ripped off. We were punk’d by Janet Jackson,” Freston said, referring to MTV’s reality show that makes celebrities the butt of practical jokes.