11/18/2004: I don't watch Monday Night Football...
so I missed the controversial "Naked Nicollete Sheridan jumps into Terrell Owens's arms" intro to this week's MNF. At Salon, King Kaufman's readers jump on the factor that, to my puzzlement, none of the pundits were addressing: namely, Ms. Sheridan is white, and Mr. Owens is black.
Reader Steve Hicken writes that the Owens-Sheridan scene "embodied the two biggest threats to white male America that we know: Female sexuality (active female sexuality, as opposed to the passive sexuality of cheerleaders) aggressively directed at a black male. We can't have that now, can we?"
Not according to reader Edward Tarkington, who writes: "White America has carried on a love-hate relationship with black manhood ever since the days of blackface minstrelsy. We love to watch 'em perform, but just let 'em look at a white woman with desire, and we'll hang 'em from the nearest tree. Similarly, Nipplegate, while focused on Janet Jackson's bare boobie, was another example of suggested miscegenation.
"But it's not polite to talk about such things, so everyone just focuses on nipple-rings and dropped towels, while the rest of us reasonable people are left scratching our heads, wondering what the fuss is all about."
We don't really have to imagine what the reaction would be if such a sexualized scene were shown without the black man-white woman racial element. Such a scene was shown, repeatedly, in 2001.
"Am I the only person in the world who remembers the TV commercial that ran repeatedly during NFL games and elsewhere a few years ago," wonders John Wilheim, "in which Kim Cattrall of 'Sex and the City' was shown sneaking into an NFL locker room during a game, then soaking in the whirlpool? The team came in to find her in the tub, drinking soda. When she said, 'Anyone have a towel?' the players with towels all hastily hid them behind their backs."
You're not the only one, John, and why do my readers seem to feel so alone?
Cattrall was the star of a series of ads for Pepsi One that had a fairy tale theme. In the locker room ad, a Goldilocks riff, she tries a Coke and a Diet Coke -- "too many calories ... too diet-y" -- before finding the Pepsi One, which is, of course, "just right."
The NFL had a big problem with that ad. But not with the fact that by the end of the spot Cattrall had apparently slipped out of her slinky red dress to take a bubble bath naked in the metal whirlpool tub that one player referred to as "my hot tub." That player, by the way, was white, same as Cattrall, though the player who said, "Somebody's been drinking my Coke," and some others were black. There was no significant outrage on the part of the league or the public about the sexuality of the ad.
No, the NFL's issue was that the locker room was that of the "Bears" -- get it? Bears? -- and the team's uniforms looked a lot like those of the Chicago Bears. The NFL, which counts Coke as a sponsor, didn't like its trademarks being used in an ad for Pepsi. The cola company made some postproduction changes in the commercial to appease the league.
That's one color nobody around the NFL is reluctant to share their feelings about: green.
Len on 11.18.04 @ 08:49 PM CST