The incident didn’t generate the media coverage that Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” earned at the Super Bowl in 2004, but rapper M.I.A. flipping off the camera during Madonna’s Super Bowl performance Sunday night is another indication that the halftime show is hardly family friendly. M.I.A. stomped her foot on a pedestal before she sang “I don’t give a s—” and gave the middle finger to the camera. NBC attempted to blur the obscene gesture, but was a millisecond too late. M.I.A. reportedly could be fined if the FCC decides to punish the network, but that’s unlikely. CBS was fined $550,000 for Jackson’s bare breast incident, but the verdict was overturned by an appeals court. The Parents Television Council noted that NBC and the NFL shouldn’t have been surprised by the gesture after hiring a lineup “full of performers who have based their careers on shock, profanity and titillation.” Perhaps the host network each year needs to run a disclaimer warning viewers that the halftime show is for mature audiences.
The income tax plan in Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State address has drawn opposite reactions from the state’s two leading public policy think tanks. Michael Carnuccio, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, praised Fallin’s boldness. David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said the proposal “would bust a huge and permanent hole in the budget.” The details of the plan must still be worked out, and one think tank leader is optimistic as the other urges caution. “We can clearly see that when the dust settles, Oklahomans will keep more of their hard earned money next year,” said Carnuccio. Blatt wants the governor to get more input on the tax policies so they’ll be “fair to all Oklahomans and adequate to our state’s responsibilities.” We’re hopeful about tax reform this session and encourage the Legislature to take the next steps with a combination of courage and wisdom.
Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Although the Obama administration may be slow learners, we give them credit for listening to protests about proposed changes in laws for child farm laborers. The U.S. Department of Labor backtracked on a set of rules that would make many farming chores illegal for children younger than 16. The changes would have had a negative impact on America’s family farms and ranches. “The department’s proposals, though well intentioned, were far too encompassing and limiting to farming youth,” said Ed Luttrell, president of the National Grange, a rural advocacy group. Where common sense is called for, federal regulators usually offer dust in the wind. Thankfully these proposed farm rules were blown away by protests from farm groups.
TV ratings continue to shrink for the Republican presidential debates. Is that any surprise? Nineteen, count them 19, debates have been staged so far, not including informal candidate forums. How many more of these Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney verbal showdowns can viewers stand? After peaking at 7.6 million viewers for a debate Dec. 10 on ABC, audiences mostly have been on the decline. The Jan. 26 debate from Jacksonville, Fla., reached 5.4 million viewers on CNN. However, the network isn’t complaining. That’s well above its 735,000 daily average. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, is among those who want to see the debates end. He said they have turned into mud-wrestling contests and are driving up negative impressions of the party’s candidates. Fortunately, viewers will get a break this month. The next debate isn’t scheduled until Feb. 22 from Mesa, Ariz.
Budweiser’s Clydesdales, Coca-Cola’s polar bears and CareerBuilder.com’s chimpanzees have all achieved fame through Super Bowl commercials. If Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo were in charge of casting, however, the suit-and-tie-clad chimps would be in danger of losing their starring role. The zoo is campaigning to stop CareerBuilder from airing its scheduled commercial Sunday, claiming that the anthropomorphized portrayal of the endangered species will make viewers less concerned about wildlife conservation. The company has been featuring chimps in Super Bowl ads since 2005, but a new Duke University study has added fuel to the critics’ fire. The study’s leader, assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology Brian Hare, is especially worried that Africans will be misled and attempt to capture and sell the wild primates to Westerners as pets. We’ll go out on a limb and say that television viewers around the world are highly evolved enough to recognize the entertainment value of a commercial without going bananas, unlike the researchers.