What was really wrong with the Super Bowl 'entertainment'

CBS aided Al Qaida recruiters worldwide

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

To the senior management of CBS:

I, along with millions of other Americans, was disgusted with many aspects of CBS's Super Bowl production. By now, we have read many news stories about Janet Jackson's right breast. That was a cheap and degrading publicity stunt, and I'm sure Congress and the FCC will deal with it properly. But, the problems with CBS's programming go much deeper than that.

Before the game, I read news stories indicating the Super Bowl is the most widely watched television event in the world, with an estimated world-wide audience of 2 billion people. In that context, CBS should have realized it's obligation to represent America to the world. This isn't just a football game; this is the United States of America on display for the rest of the planet.

So, how did CBS choose to present us to the world? With a half-time show of vile, tasteless, disgusting acts. The entire episode, start to finish, filled me with revulsion. But, really, what else did we expect? I'm an American, and, since I was a child in diapers, I've been fed mindless, disgusting drivel through the so-called entertainment medium of broadcast television. By now, I'm used to it, and I, like the rest of America, will get over it. The network will pay some fines, Janet Jackson will temporarily revive her rapidly declining career, Nellie will keep grabbing his Willie, and Kid Rock will continue to be famous for being a bizarre example of white trash. Such is life in the USA.

But, what really bothers me is that, after reading all of the news stories, I find that CBS still doesn't realize what they did, and why it was wrong.

Well CBS - here is why: American soldiers are engaged in a culture war in Iraq and Afghanistan. At this point in the battle, it's no longer our armies against their armies; it's our ideas of freedom and liberty against the enemy's ideas of fear and repression. America has put out a message of hope to the world - live free, have hope, and enjoy the fruits of a free and open democratic society. The Super Bowl half-time show poisoned that message. Given the opportunity to share the best of America with the world, the shows producers instead chose to showcase the vilest, narrowest, most hedonistic aspects of our culture - and it was broadcast to the biggest world-wide audience CBS will have all year.

You could have showcased the best of America. Instead, you glamorized the worst.

But what of free expression, one might ask? If showcasing free expression and the rights of political dissent were on the agenda, the Dixie Chicks would have performed at center stage, rather than Nellie holding his wiener and Janet flashing her pasty. CBS had the opportunity to positively portray the character of America to a world-wide audience of some 2 billion people. CBS squandered this perfect opportunity to take the moral high ground, and instead chose to titillate (pardon me) it's audience with a program whose entire content bordered on the edge of smut.

Well, CBS, I don't know what's worse; that you hurt the war effort by giving such obvious moral ammunition to the recruiters of Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban, or that you didn't even realize you'd done it. Perhaps that's the saddest observation on your half-baked half-time show. Your apologists still think it's about a boob. I think I can tell you, it's about much more than that. It's about America's image on the world stage.

Please hire some employees possessing the most basic understanding of manners, morals, and good taste. And take the time to consider the implications of your programming on your entire, world-wide audience. This really is important. Our soldier's lives may depend on it.


John Thurman
Worland, Wyoming

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