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Soup of This Day #328: They Don’t Speak For Us

August 1, 2013

Botticelli's 'The Birth of Venus'
Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, completed in 1485. It’s probably a decent bit of art, but I can’t see it past the startling exposure of Venus’ left breast – Work: Sandro Botticelli, 1485. Sandro Botticelli is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

There’s a great routine in the late-60’s TV show, Get Smart. Maxwell Smart is seeing a CONTROL staff psychologist who shows him some inkblots and asks Smart to tell him what he sees. Agent 86 duly does – He sees a man and a woman hugging, another man and a woman hugging, and a man and a woman kissing, leading the shrink to observe:

‘Mr Smart, you seem to show a definite preoccupation with men and women hugging and kissing.’

An indignant Max fires back:

‘Me? Hah! You’re the 1 with the weird picture collection.’

This post is sort of like that blue collection of inkblots – It can look weird if that’s your bent but really it’s just some plain ol’ blobs of colour.

With nipples.

Yep, this is a Soup about breasts. If that gets you excited then stop reading because this Soup is not for you. Likewise, if breasts offend you then you’d be better off reading something which remains fully clothed in a completely formless way.

It’s inspired by something which is not at all sport related, instead taking its cues from the recent edition of the Glastonbury Music Festival. Among the acts featured was Amanda Palmer, a singer/songwriter who is 1 half of the Brechtian punk cabaret band, The Dresden Dolls.

That description is theirs. I had to look up Brecht just then.

Anyway, Amanda was doing a set at Glastonbury with her Grand Theft Orchestra band and it went… Actually I don’t know how it went because the only review I’ve seen was by Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper and that article focussed exclusively on Ms Palmer’s left breast.

As far as I can tell, that breast did not have a designated role to play in the gig. I imagine that it is difficult to play an instrument with a breast and you probably don’t get the quality of tone out of it that you might hear from Amanda Palmer’s vocal chords.

None of this mattered to the Daily Mail, who chose to write about how Amanda’s left breast ‘escaped her bra’ briefly during the show. This they suggested was:

‘… an embarrassing wardrobe mistake.’

That left me remembering 2004’s Superbowl XXXVIII, or more correctly, the half-time show from that event. For many that will be the only thing they remember from that day. This is because the football has been modestly covered over by the fig leaf recollection of a brief moment from the musical spectacular that entertained a lot of viewers while the players had a break and some sandwiches.

I wasn’t 1 of the viewers. I don’t watch half-time shows. I use that break to go to the toilet and to refuel. Sometimes I brush my teeth or feed the pets. I do pretty much anything except watch the singing and the dancing.

Yet I still have that show in my head.

Mostly because Janet Jackson exposed a breast. I think it was her right 1, which is ironic because most of the subsequent complaints seemed to be about how it was wrong. Technically Janet didn’t unmask her breast herself – It only came into view because fellow performer Justin Timberlake pulled open a flap of costume and there it was, peaking out though a gap like Agent 44 posted in a mailbox. With a nipple shield over his face.

44 was the CONTROL guy staged into tight places in Get Smart.

Maxwell Smart always seemed to feel sorry for 44 (And 13, who had a similar role), but I don’t feel sorry for Janet’s right breast. This is because, while it’s famously remembered as a ‘wardrobe malfunction’, the whole thing was choreographed.

For me – A wardrobe malfunction is what happens when I put both legs through the 1 opening in my underwear.

Anyway, people got all freaked out by the sight of a bare breast, even if the exposure was about as erotic as the Captain playing the recorder on Do That To Me One More Time.

Sorry Captain. Tennille – You’re still cool.

The upshot was that football from Super Bowl XXXVIII has been as overshadowed as an Amanda Palmer performance with a loose breast.

Superbowl XXXVIII was played in Houston at the Reliant Stadium. The game featured the New England Patriots (14 and 2) up against the Carolina Panthers (11 and 5), with the former going in as the favourite, having won Superbowl XXXVI just 2 years earlier. The Panthers meanwhile had no big game pedigree – This was their 1st trip to the Super Bowl.

For all that the 2 outfits were pretty evenly matched – They both sported tough defensive units and for most of the 1st half those set the tone. It was in fact just shy of 27 minutes in, and with Janet and Justin warming up for their show, before a score got registered.

It was a Pats touchdown – A 5-yard Tom Brady pass to Antoine Branch – and it proved to be just the opening dance of the ball. The Panthers replied immediately via a Jake Delhomme 39-yard pass and then the Pats countered with a 78-yard drive for the 3rd touchdown in 3 or so minutes. There was even time for 1 last score, a 50-yard field goal to Carolina, and so it was 14-10 to the Pats at the half.

And then it went quiet. Perhaps numbed by Janet’s right breast, neither team could score in the 3rd. Crucially though that stanza did end with the Pats driving for the end zone – Early in the 4th they capitalised on that setup and scored via an Antowain Smith 2-yard carry. The subsequent 21-10 scoreline should have broken the Panthers.


Carolina surged back – 1st off of a mazy 33-yard run from DeShaun Foster and then via an 85-yard missile from Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammad. That latter play was the longest from scrimmage in the history of the Super Bowl, and just like that, the Panthers led it 22-21.

If Carolina was tough though, then so was New England – Tom Brady had not lost a playoff game to that point and he set about ensuring that proud record remained intact – A 4-minute drive ended with the Pats star quarterback tossing a meagre 1 yard to Mike Vrabel for a touchdown and when the Pats had Kevin Faulk run in for a 2-point conversion they were out to a 29-22 lead.

Back came the Panthers – With a minute remaining Jake Delhomme fired a 12-yard pass to Ricky Proehl and scores were tied at 29 apiece.

At this point Janet should have called for her brother Michael, because this was officially a Thriller. And she’d fixed her wardrobe up.

Sadly, this big dance could only have 1 lead and with 4 seconds on the clock the Pats gave kicker Adam Vinatieri the chance to win it from 41 yards. This was no gimmee – He’d missed 2 gettable attempts in the 1st half.

He didn’t miss this 1 though. Vinatieri’s effort sailed through and the Patriots won 1 of the best Super Bowls I’ve witnessed.

This might even have made Amanda Palmer happy in a Brechtian kind of way – She’s a Boston native after all. Flash forward to her own alleged wardrobe malfunction and she wasn’t happy about the result of that though. She was in fact so annoyed that she penned a song about it and then invited audience members at 1 of her shows to film her performance for YouTube. Have a look:

Yeah, you got owned Daily Mail. By a woman and her kimono. And then just a woman.

It’s kind of fitting that Palmer relied on YouTube to get her message across – Jawed Karim, 1 of the inventers of YouTube, claimed that Janet’s wardrobe malfunction was 1 of the inspirations for the creation of what is now the Internet’s premier video sharing service.

1 last thought – Maxwell Smart 1st made the transition to feature films with a theatrical release in 1980. The plot of his cinematic debut involved the super-agent battling an evil genius intent on deploying a bomb that had the power to destroy only clothes, rendering everyone naked. The movie was called The Nude Bomb and I reckon a quick Brechtian exposure of it is perfectly unfitting for anyone fearful of breasts.

They Don’t Speak For Us

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