There was this talent agent at a Superbowl party the other day. Sort of guy whose tone, body language and facial expression make it seem he's lying everytime he speaks. You're at dinner with him and he says, "Pass the salt," and you're thinking, "this man is lying."
Anyway, within maybe 1.5 seconds of Justin outing Janet's breast, this agent bellows: "Pre-planned P.R. stunt, and a fucking triumph!"
Him being him, everyone reacted as if he was just blowing smoke, trying to lay claim to insider knowledge. Turns out he wasn't.
Immediately, a guest decried the singers' action on grounds of indecency, then lamented a society in which such exploitation of women exists. This party being in Hollywood, that guest was asked to leave (they weren't, really, but they might as well have been).
Then it occurred to someone else, a music industry exec, that the timing for Janet's career couldn't have be better as she has an album coming out this Spring. "I disagree with that," the agent said. "It could have been better timed. Her album could be coming out today."
But was it a smart move? Will their reputations suffer? Although the religious right noisily proclaims otherwise, we are far from a chaste society. Viagra and the like were among the Superbowl's top advertisers. Look in the yellow pages of any phone book in the United States. What business takes up the most pages? Escort services. (And is it just me, or do more religious right leaders wind up caught in hotel rooms with escort servicers than members of any other occupation per capita?) I know of a plot decision in a current movie in development that was made with an eye toward the huge bondage demographic. People are far more scandalized by lip-synching. In any event, does Janet and Justin's target audience share the religious right's morality? Next question, please. Justin and Janet (or at least their businessees), will face a fine. Even if it's $50K, paying that, to them, is less of a hassle than having to write 50 times on a chalkboard: "I will not reveal a breast at the Superbowl again." Her record sale figures will climb by an exponentially higher amount.
Would I participate in a stunt like this? I wouldn't want to contribute to the exploitation of women. It's very likely Janet and Justin felt the same way. But, as the agent, speaking for Hollywood, said: "That's the reason not to do it, and there are 87 reasons in favor of doing it, all business-related. The bottom line's the bottom line. With the extra $15 million she makes, she can write checks to a bunch of women's advocacy charities and advance the cause way more than it would've been otherwise."
The same presentation fo the Pros and Cons has induced me to do plenty of things I would have preferred not to. Is it pragmatism, or is it dealing with the devil? I guess I won't know for sure until I wind up at a party with that talent agent in Hell.