Music Friday: Control

The first time I heard this song was at some sort of talent show early in my junior high school days. Some girl I don’t know the name of from one of the classes ahead of mine put on a performance that I still remember to this day. With all apologies to my readers who may have performed in various talent shows while we were in school together, it was the best junior high talent show performance I have ever seen. It was very disciplined: her movements were so precise, and nothing about them seemed to be flirtations with the audience the way so many of these sorts of things always go. In my memory, she was dressed very professionally, almost as if she was going to interview for a job at the library or the bank. In reality, she was probably just emulating Janet. And in hindsight, given the setting, the whole thing was probably a statement to her fellow classmates and possibly even teachers that she was going to do what she wanted and she was going to be excellent at it. As if maybe she had to be better than we were just to be accepted as an equal.
But when people think of Janet Jackson, especially at this time of year, it’s not likely that they are thinking about her last album as a teenager. No, what they think of is the only time in the past forty years that she got caught with her fly undone, so to speak. Somehow in America, if a white boy takes the clothes off of a black woman on live television, it’s going to be her fault. The Super Bowl debacle set records for Googling and Tivoing, so it’s not like people weren’t paying attention to what actually happened. In the wake of “Nipplegate”, Janet Jackson was blacklisted by major media corporations for many years, kind of a big deal if you are a pop artist. Justin Timberlake didn’t seem to suffer any repercussions, and was one of the biggest entertainers of 2013. Welcome to America.

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