Hip-Hop Titillation or Accidental Exposure?

Yes, that’s right. Another hip-hop star has revealed certain, er, assets on stage and on camera nationwide. While performing on Good Morning America‘s Summer Concert Series (ABC) in Central Park, the outlandishly dressed Nicki Minaj revealed…a…nipple. The 5-second delay was insufficient to stop the “malfunction” from being aired (no pun intended) on the East Coast’s live feed. I guess that makes it an on-air, hip-hop nip-slip.

censored pic of Nicki Minage with nipple slipOf course, conservative watchdog groups are incensed and immediately denounced the indecent incident. Apparently, this sort of thing goes on more often than I was aware of. (Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004 is the last I remember.) The Parents Television Council calls network apologies “beyond hollow”, at this point, saying that the industry needs to better self-regulate and “implement meaningful solutions.” The PTC has a point. One would think that these gals could wear bras underneath or use some adhesive or, at the very least, big ol’ pasties to cover the most sensitive and titillating bits — just in case. Yet, at the same time, I can’t seem to get worked up over this particular incident. That’s right. I, Mr. Conservative, am not all up in arms over an exposed nipple. Here’s why:

1) Context. This is one factor that should make a big difference in whether or not we are offended by such things. For example, a National Geographic magazine or documentary that shows nude or half-nude adults & children from some tribe in Africa or Central/South America is generally considered acceptable viewing. (Though, I suppose some very conservative people might still “shelter” their kids from such things.) Taken in context, such exposure is not considered erotic, certainly not pornographic. While I think the hip-hop scene does get sexually suggestive at times — make that ‘often’ — and Nicki’s no exception, I doubt a performance on Good Morning America is going to get very raunchy. (I could be wrong.)

2) Intent. This is another hugely relevant factor. Did the one guilty of overexposure intend for it to happen, presumably for erotic effect? Was it supposed to be titillating or shocking? Was the anatomical area in question left exposed for more than a couple moments after s/he realized it? If any of these can reasonably be answered ‘yes’, then I think one has, um, reason to object and be offended. (Those of us with a conservative bent would probably think so, anyway.) I think Ms. Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” qualifies. (Though, as I recall, the exposure was fairly brief, and she was wearing a pastie. Not excusing it, but it’s not like she was dancing around topless. Still, it was intentional.) Ms. Minaj, however, does not appear to have intended for this to happen. Granted, her outfit was tight and her top rather low-cut. Not unusual in the biz, and she’s certainly not afraid to flaunt her, ah, voluptuous curves. But, according to People, she “seemed stunned when she caught the wardrobe malfunction, she pulled her top back up and continued her set.” I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that flashing her audience was likely not on the agenda.

woman in full burqa - green3) Teachable moment. Yes, for reasons of modesty, certain areas of the body should not be exposed in public. (Although, there is a range for what is acceptable in different areas of the world, based on cultural norms.) We need to explain this to our kids. But, if a child is watching when such an incident occurs, we can teach them about propriety without throwing a fit or making them think the human body is somehow evil or disgusting. We might even use humor. Overreacting, on the other hand, can have a negative effect on the child’s developing understanding of sex and sexuality. The brief sight of a naked boob (or part of one), for example, should not send a child (or adult, for that matter) crying for Mommy or screaming straight to a therapist.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree that there is entirely too much overt sexuality in the music business, and in Western culture in general, these days. But, it does no one any good to have a knee-jerk reaction to every little incident, regardless of details, always assuming the worst. I think the PTC, and my fellow conservatives, could stand to be a little more circumspect on the issue. Just sayin’…

Personally, I’ll be sending Ms. Minaj some double-stick tape to help avoid future slips.

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