When we began watching the Grammys last night, we had not gotten the memo – the email that CBS had sent out to participants advising them to adhere to the Network’s wardrobe policy:
Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible “puffy” bare skin exposure….OBSCENITY OR PARTIALLY SEEN OBSCENITY ON WARDROBE IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR BROADCAST.
We had no idea! As we watched the show, we began thinking: Wow, there’s something different about this Grammy’s show. It’s actually good. The music is amazing. The performances are compelling. Everyone looks so cool (except for Katy Perry, who looks like she was supposed to be at the AVN awards).
Once J. Lo made a reference to “the memo,” we finally figured it out. Now, we’re usually not ones for censorship, or curtailing freedom of expression. And we don’t love CBS’s politically conservative, anti-gay history. But we’re also not ones for the excessive objectification of women, the virtual requirement of almost all female celebrities to put their bodies and sexuality on display for the male gaze (and the female gaze, thank you women’s magazines). So here are the 4 big reasons why a break from that was a decidedly good thing:
1. Sex wasn’t where you didn’t want or expect it.
There is something to be said for the compartmentalization of displays of sexuality — to be able to find sexy and sex-related material when you want it (hello, EMandLO.com!), but not to be choked by it whenever you turn on the TV (or at least network TV), pass billboards, or check-out at the grocery store. Musicians can still have sex-filled videos and dress provocatively at provocative events, but it was nice to see the world through G-colored glasses when so often we’re forced to wear PG-13 glasses.
2. The stage was an equal playing field.
We’d like to think the “wardrobe advisory” actually, ironically, gave the female celebrities more freedom — in other words, the freedom not to be sex objects for a night. That didn’t mean anyone had to forgo glamour or style, it just meant both the men and women looked cool. They were musical equals you could take equally seriously. Because let’s be honest, nobody was taking Pink seriously when she imitated a live water birth 25 feet in the air while wearing that outfit from The Fifth Element during the 2010 Grammys.
3. The show was family-friendly.
It’s great to have a star-studded musical event be (mostly) appropriate for kids — and one that’s not, for lack of a better word, dumbed down for them. The more boys and girls see America’s equivalent of “heroes” in roles that aren’t automatically sexualized — and sexualized in such a narrow way (i.e. men = fully clothed sexual aggressors, women = semi-naked sexual objects) — the better chance they have of growing up with decent (i.e. respectful, self-respecful, egalitarian, feminist, fair) attitudes about sex.
4. The focus was on the music.
Sideboob, nip slips, ass crack, etc are totally distracting. You have an autonomic, Bugs-Bunny-esque, eye-popping (or other body-part-popping) reaction which consumes your attention. (For example, was Rihanna even singing during this performance at the 2011 Grammys? We couldn’t tell you!) Shows like these have come to trade in over-the-top performances that rely more on shock value than musical genius or ingenuity. But last night’s Grammy show let the music shine. Talent rather than tit was on full display.