- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

There is more to life than the road-weary, ever-despairing form of Nicolette Sheridan as the lead-in to “Monday Night Football.”

There is the predictable shock and wailing following another joint production starring the corporate NFL and envelope-pushing Hollywood, which equates being over the top with high art.

There also is the right breast of Janet Jackson, busting out on national television before posing as the seminal moment in American history, politics and art.

It started there, with the right breast.

Or did it start with Lenny Bruce, a funnyman who was not really funny, just a drama queen who shot his veins up with heroin and died too young in that good career move way of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Jim Morrison?

Or did it start with the wheelchair-bound Larry Flynt clutching the First Amendment, as played by the dimwitted Woody Harrelson, who has the wannabe cleft lip?

Admit it. We love our village idiots in America.

That explains the reality show phenomenon. That and what appears to be Daniel Boone’s mythical coonskin hat on top of Donald Trump’s head.

Terrell Owens has tapped into this entertainment truism, as Dennis Rodman did before him and Jim Piersall before the both of them. At least Piersall was the genuine article, a victim of both the overbearing Karl Malden and the weak-armed Norman Bates.

Here is the thing: Jackson’s right breast embodies all of the competing cultural forces in America, as only a right breast can, and that includes the FCC, the late Walt Disney, Howard Stern, the simpletons in the red states, the enlightened intellectuals in the blue states and Scott Peterson.

As Jackson pointed out in the weeks leading up to the presidential election: “I truly feel in my heart that the president wanted to take the focus off himself at that time, and I was the perfect vehicle to do so at that moment.”

We promise to monitor the situation the next time President Bush is up against the political fire.

Bush to White House operator: “Quick. Get me Janet Jackson’s right breast.”

Look at it this way, too.

What is, without doubt, the No.1 observation of the year?

It is no contest. It is: “wardrobe malfunction.”

Sharon Stone, of panty-less fame, was not even close with her precious insight, although not for lack of effort after being denied the captivating lips of Halle Berry.

Stone, like Jackson, mixed politics with art, saying, “Halle’s so beautiful and I wanted to kiss her. I said, ‘How can you have us in the movie and not have us kiss? That’s such a waste.’ That’s what you get for having George Bush as president.”

Seriously, the picture of the disrobed Sheridan, sad to say for her, is cause anew to dance with the right breast of Jackson and note the inner vapidity of the Hollywood sect. President Martin Sheen and the like read someone else’s lines by day and bone up on foreign and domestic policy position papers by night, touting at least a ninth-grade education, lines of cocaine and assorted STDs.

Sheridan, a vague somebody no longer up to the challenge of winning parts from the director’s couch, is no outrage in this context. This is borne out in 24/7 fashion, perhaps in Baghdad with the beady eyes and pompadour of Sean Penn or in the National Press Club filled with the “chill wind” of Tim Robbins.

Good taste fought bad taste, and bad taste won in a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph. The perpetually writhing Madonna, trite to a fault, behind highway breast cones or not, fits in there somewhere.

Memo to Stone: Madonna is forever locking lips with Britney Spears, President Bush be darned, and Madonna is old enough to be the blonde tart’s grandmother in sexpot years.

The NFL sells mayhem, sex and beer, America’s three principal food groups. And let’s not forget the selling of Ray Lewis, equipped as he is with a microphone. Repeat after the eyes-bulging, spray-spewing, ear-hurting Lewis: “NOT IN MY HOUSE!”

But back to the right breast, because it always goes back to the right breast, as the Owens-Sheridan skit shows.

Here is how the huffing and puffing has evolved this week: A quick mention of the Owens-Sheridan spoof, followed by an existential study of Jackson’s right breast, plus the usual expressions of surprise and disgust.

It is all too practiced, this drill, for if you dance with the nincompoops of Hollywood, you hardly should be taken aback if the dance is dirty.

And that’s entertainment.

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