Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Shadows and Hog

How could any reasonable person look at this picture and see a penis?

That does not look like a man holding his penis. First of all, penises don't usually have pointy arrow-shaped heads like that. I mean, there's a slight tapering off at the end of the organ, but it's a genital, not a common piece of Bronze Age weaponry. Also, most nude men don't have peculiar curly protrusions extending from their shoulderblade to their crotch. It would make wearing conventional pants all but impossible.

No, if I had to look at that picture, I'd say, "It looks like a man holding a crazily-shaped guitar. Possibly Prince." Because I know he's into that sort of thing. And of course, I'd be 100% correct.

In the sensitive post-wardrobe malfunction world, some are questioning whether a guitar was just a guitar during Prince's Super Bowl halftime show.

Prince's acclaimed performance included a guitar solo during the "Purple Rain" segment of his medley in which his shadow was projected onto a large, flowing beige sheet. As the 48-year-old rock star let rip, the silhouette cast by his figure and his guitar (shaped like the singer's symbol) had phallic connotations for some.


I mean, a lot of things have potentially phallic connections. The Washington Monument has phallic connections. And that tower on the Stanford campus? From afar, it looks like the entire city of Palo Alto has a hard-on. (Cut them a break though...Half Moon Bay is totally hot and dresses like a skank.)

Frankly, I'm still not seeing it here. Perhaps this was intentional - he gripped the neck of his guitar in sihlouette to suggest rubbing one out or something. Prince is pretty much a total perv, so I wouldn't put it past him necessarily. But if you were watching that Super Bowl halftime show and saw this fleeting image and suddenly went, "Oh my God it totally looks like a cock!," then you have cocks on the brain, my friend. It's got nothing to do with His Purpleness.

A number of bloggers have decried "Malfunction!" — including Sam Anderson at New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer. Daily News television critic David Bianculli called it "a rude-looking shadow show" that "looked embarrassingly rude, crude and unfortunately placed."

Bianculli, I'm looking in your direction.

Seriously, the dude is a television critic, and he thinks Prince's Halftime Show was crude and rude? (How could he forget "lewd," by the way? Those three always go together.)

We're talking about a medium in which Charlie Sheen is widely hailed as a mainstay of the Family Hour. Each weeknight, television invites Simon Cowell, Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray and Tyra Banks into our homes, so that they might slowly poison our minds with corporate propaganda and shallow psychobabble, choking us to death on a flavorful yet highly toxic cocktail of narcissism, greed and passionate, deeply-felt anti-intellectualism. One of the classiest, most universally praised shows on television right now could be easily summarized as "Gilligan's Island only with invisible monsters." That's pretty much the state of the medium.

But the outline of a rock star holding a guitar? OH MY GOD THE HORROR OF IT! To think, it almost sort of possibly looked like he was holding a portion of his body in his hand behind a curtain! How will David explain this phallus-related incident to his possibly autistic and apparently anatomically incorrect children? "You see, Timmy and Bernice, Prince was simulating the act of masturbating via the clever use of an elaborately-designed musical instrument, spotlights, a satin sheet and several million spectators. Hey, stop watching those commercials and poking one another, I'm trying to explain something to you about Prince's cock!"

CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said Tuesday that the network has received "very few" complaints on Prince's performance. CBS last aired the Super Bowl in 2004 when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's "wardrobe malfunction" sparked criticism and a subsequent crackdown on broadcast decency from the Federal Communications Commission.

But this time, it was the NFL that produced the halftime show (MTV had in 2004). Spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has received no complaints.

"We respect other opinions, but it takes quite a leap of the imagination to make a controversy of his performance," Aiello said. "It's a guitar."

Shit, it's this thing again. Truly, that was the Nipple Slip Heard Round the World. What's funny is that men AND WOMEN all around this country visit sites like Egotastic, The Superficial and Gorilla Mask each and every day purposefully seeking out photos of celebrity nipple slips. It's one of those unpredictable Internet cottage industries, genres of websites that popped up from a genuine and previously-unknown demand. (Hot or Not?)

But show them one (singular!) nipple slip, even a non-accidental one that's largely covered by jewelry and cut away from quickly, and there's still outrage two years later! "In this post-wardrobe malfunction world, even the outline of a man holding an electric guitar is enough to send shockwaves throughout America! Will we ever feel clean again?!?"

I think the attempt by our government and our corporate media to terrify the American public has worked too well. They just wanted complacency, a willingness on our part to look the other way so they could loot the Treasury and ship off our young people to foreign oil fields, but instead they've created something truly scary. A far more menacing threat than 50 al-Qaedas. Millions of panicky, ignorant, hopeless Americans, most of them heavily armed.

We saw it just the other day with this nonsensical Aqua Teen Hunger Force bomb scare in Boston. A Lite Bright of Err the Mooninite, I'm sorry, looks absolutely nothing at all like a bomb you fucking morons! Oooh, it has wires in it! Look out, it's gonna blow! Too late, your head a-splode!

Aren't there a lot of universities in Boston? Couldn't someone with half a brain have spoken up at some point? "Umm...Everyone? The Mooninites just like smoking cigarettes while they flip people the bird. And possibly stealing DVDs. And they do have a Quad Laser but it doesn't work very well. They mean you no physical harm unless you are a sentient meatball. Please go back to your heavy drinking."

But everyone in this stupid country's in such a constant state of vigilant catlike readiness, it doesn't take a lot to set them off. You can't just tell people they're about to die at any moment for five, six years without having some kind of mass psychic impact. We're like a couple hundred million little ticking timebombs waiting to explode all over some new cause or scandal or sovereign nation at any moment. Next, it'll be Iran (I've been calling that one since CBI started, by the way...) But I can't see how it's ever going to stop at this point, if all it takes is Prince's theatrics to shock and disgrace the Heartland. Everyone will just keep pivoting to the next existential threat, and off we go.

Was Prince's pose phallic?

"The short answer is, of course it is," says Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor Gavin Edwards, who points out that on Prince's "Purple Rain" tour in the mid `80s, he performed with a guitar that would ejaculate, squirting water out of its end during the climax of "Let's Go Crazy."

"All that said, it didn't seem like a sniggering little puppet show," adds Edwards. "I think it was one of those things because a guitar at waist level does look like an enormous phallus."

But that's a crucial, crucial separation right there. Something that, in a vague way, could potentially resemble a phallus is not inherently dirty or inappropriate. I would think that, without the suggestion of actual nudity or sexuality, there's no possible way to be offended by a phallic shape. Otherwise, you'd walk around horrified and appalled all day long. Pens, pencils, gear shifts and emergency brakes on cars, scissors, pill bottles (small penises only), soda cans, paint cans, long wooden spoons, pipes, cigars, cigarettes, Slinkies, garden hoses, cardboard paper towel tubes...They're all somewhat penile if you think about it.

But our minds are able to recognize that something is in the same shape as a dick without thinking, "Oh my god, gross! A dick!" Right? RIGHT?

By enlarging his shadow, it's possible Prince intended to accentuate this aspect of his solo, but it's just as likely it was accidental. (You can find videos of the halftime show at YouTube.com.) A message left with Prince's publicist Tuesday wasn't returned.

It's just as likely? You don't think it's a little more likely? That maybe Prince just meant to have a shadow appear on a sheet to make his performance a bit more dramatic, and then some undersexed TV critics tried to make it sound provocative and controversial? I mean, yeah, maybe that's it...or maybe Prince simply practices that most subtle form of seduction...

Stagecraft!

1 comment:

steve c. said...

You've got a lot of growing up to do.