There it was, glaring at the world in a small box in the middle of People magazine. "She's got double D's! You can't cover those suckers up!" A vulgar comment at bestÖuntil you hear the source. Itís Joe Simpson. Heís talking about his daughter, Jessica Simpsonís breasts. Thatís right. A father referrs to his daughterís breast size in an international magazine. And make no mistakeÖ heís bragging about them.
Undoubtedly Joe Simpson is a shrewd business man. He
turned Jessicaís newlywed years into a hit-reality show, then launched
his other daughterís fabricated career into another reality show cum
quasi singing career cum Saturday Night Live disaster. But in the process of selling his family to America, Joe Simpson sold his soul.
Before becoming a media mougal, Joe Simpson was a minister. (Is it an ultimate irony? Does one just lead to another?) Like
all ministers, his primary goal was to bring souls to God, to bring
sinners to repentance, to bring peace and understanding to the world.
Somewhere along the way, his daughterís now infamous
double Ds sprouted, her singing career became a small blip on the pop
radar, she got married and then daddy got inolved. Joe Simpson, with diamond-speckled, Gucci-tagged dollars signs in his eyes says "Goodbye God, Hello Hollywood." Riding Jessicaís double Ds through MTV onto the silver screen, counting his shekels the whole way.
But itís not just Joe Simpson. American culture as a whole has waived goodbye to its dignity.
I scroll through the 800 available cable channels we pay more than $50
per month to access, I see shows addressing topics that would never
have been on television 10 years ago. These days, we click past the
wholesome humor of the Cosby Show to cartoons full of scantily clad
characters making lewd innuendos and allusions. A month ago I watched a woman in her 60s host a talk show all about sex. Wearing
a calf-length polyester skirt and grey cardigan, the grandmother
answers phoned-in questions about sex that made me blush, and Iím no
You donít need cable to find Americans tossing their dignity out for a few dollars. Check out the syndicated Maury Povich Show. Four
days out of five, his show involves paternity test results (from women
who say their childís father could be one of thirteen men); lie
detector test results (some men are caught cheating up to 50 times);
they even test some of their guests with "sexy decoys" (and yes, the
guests always fall for the hot girl in the green room who wants their
number. Why?). The fifth day could be a stimulating topic like ďIs this hottie a man or a woman?Ē
news broadcasts describe violent crimes in graphic detail, showing
bloody murder scenes or broadcasting graphic testimony from rape trials. Civic news is pushed aside because itís not interesting. Listen for the line "we want to warn you, some viewers may find this video disturbing". News anchors use that line regularly. Don't be fooled into believing that line is any kind of a warning. It's a clue Ė what youíre about to see will be the most "interesting" thing we show on our news all night.
Our politicians are throwing their dignity out the window as fast as they possibly can. President Clinton's dignty left an impeaching stain on a young intern's dress. Gary Condit had an affair with a young intern who was later murdered. He became publicly linked to her killing and lost his dignity and ultimately left office in shame. The
Kennedy family has become as famous for their affairs as for their
tragedies, and in some cases, the affairs and tragedies combine.
To the world, it's as if we Americans are the awkward uncle at a family reunion who always takes the joke too far. Our sexually repressed grandparents gave birth to our sexually adventerous baby-boomer parents. Now, my generation, the children of those baby boomers knows no limits sexually. Anything can and does go. But we're still learning how much of that "anything goes" attitude belongs in the public domain. For example, I have one girlfriend who loves to tell me every last detail of a romantic night with her boyfriend. I have another girlfriend who is in a relationship in which she is a sexual submissive. She
talks openly about why she chooses to live this lifestyle, but never
once crosses the line by betraying private moments for the cheap thrill
of sharing them. Iíll let you judge which friend I think has lost their dignity. Hereís a hint. Sheís not the one who wears a collar.
Being open and honest about sexuality does not necessitate putting personal details on the world stage. Joe
Simpson, who made his daughters (both physically and professionally)
also made his family millions of dollars. But I bet Jessica Simpson
might trade a lot of her money if it would mean her own father didnít
discuss the size of her breasts to reporters for a national magazine.