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I'm not big on anti-obscenity crusades in general, but having just watched the nipple-free 2005 Super Bowl, it seems to me that if I were the parent of a young child I would be more troubled by my kids watching the Cialis ads ("erections lasting longer than four hours, while rare, require immediate medical attention") than by anything I've ever seen in actual prime time broadcast programming. "Daddy, what's erectile dysfunction?" There's a question I'd rather not answer. A nipple is just a nipple, everyone's got 'em. Just my two cents.

February 6, 2005 | Permalink


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» Yglesias is right about obscenity from Notes in Samsara
I was explaining to our dinner guests, immigrants that there once was a time when you could leave the TV turned on at dinner and not hear the words, "erections lasting longer than 4 hours, while rare, require immediate medical attention." [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 7, 2005 8:48:12 AM

» Quite right from coffee grounds
As was clear well before the actual broadcast, the nation's children were subjected to about five minutes worth of suggestive advertising for "erectile dysfunction." Last year if the children happened to be looking at the right moment, they saw about... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 7, 2005 1:58:51 PM


I'd love to hear the conversations that go on at the ad agency where they're working on the Viagra/Levitra/Cialis ads. It's an interesting set of questions -- what kinds of actors and actresses do you want? How over-the-top can you go? Is the "erections lasting more than four hours..." bit a selling point in disguise?

Posted by: Ethical Werewolf | Feb 6, 2005 11:27:25 PM

Like Paul McCartney, the endless discussion about "sex and the Super Bowl" is growing old and tiresome.

This mole hill-turned-mountain reflects something much more important, and in the long term, more interesting. That is, the belly-aching on the right highlights once again the tenuousness of the alliance between "social" conservatives and "economic" conservatives. The traditional religious Right sees a culture at risk; the laissez faire free marketeers want media markets, concentration and ownership unfettered by the heavy hand of the government. Unfortunately for them, they can't have it both ways...

For more, see "Markets, Morality and Football"

Posted by: Jon | Feb 6, 2005 11:38:12 PM

I agree, Matt. Luckily my son, who's just now getting to the age where understanding "erectile function" is pertinent, left the room when the Cialis ad revealed itself. I'd just as soon wait a bit before discussing "erectile dysfunction" with him, especially this 4 hour business.

I have, however, come up with a new version of the car keys wife swapping game (see "The Ice Storm"). In the post modern (post Viagra) version, one set of keys is chosen, and that man drops a Viagra and takes collective responsibility.

Posted by: David | Feb 7, 2005 12:00:54 AM

Super Bowl...? Is that a Tennis tournament?

Posted by: Leuf | Feb 7, 2005 12:08:45 AM

Why is Matt consistently anti-wood?

Posted by: jerry | Feb 7, 2005 12:23:18 AM

I think that the bizarre web domain commercial—the one with the boobie Hooter's waitress (or so it seemd) appearing before some sort of congressional oversight committee—was far more lewd than either Janet's nipple or Cialis. But the true obscenity was Donovan McNabb's time management in the last 2 minutes.

Posted by: Kriston Capps | Feb 7, 2005 12:29:45 AM

I was disappointed by the non-raunchy halftime show and by the dull, pole-up-your-ass commercials. I think I'll go to the website that "boobie Hooter's waitress" was advertising right now.

Posted by: Mark Golden | Feb 7, 2005 12:36:04 AM

You can tell him that erectile dysfunction is primarily a disorder of people who smoke cigarettes. Smoking affects the blood vessels ability to constrict so after a couple of decades most smokers have trouble getting it up.

Posted by: bakho | Feb 7, 2005 12:47:51 AM

prude ;)

Posted by: Texan | Feb 7, 2005 12:52:29 AM

But the true obscenity was Donovan McNabb's time management in the last 2 minutes.

Truer words were rarely said, although I'd give Andy Reid a little blame as well, and I might expand it to the last 5 minutes.

Posted by: Linkmeister | Feb 7, 2005 12:53:11 AM

I was shocked that during the half time show they had a song that featured both marijuana use and cross dressing.

Posted by: Rob | Feb 7, 2005 1:26:47 AM

Satan is doing his poll today and he needs your help. I am but his mouthpiece so don't blame me for how this is phrased. You want to complain, you gotta talk to the big guy with the tail and the horns. You can't do that because he's having a pre-arrival check in with Clinton's people in the Cigar Room.

Work with me on this. A simple yes or no will do. You don't have to call on the phone to a number that's always busy, you don't have to pull on a lever, touch a screen, or hang out with Chad. Just think one way or the other. Yes or no. Satan will take it from there.

Satan wants to know, simple yes or no. The Jackson boob that popped out got all the attention. Did the other boob feel left out?

Okay, thanks. Thanks a lot. Now I've got to explain to the Prince of Darkness why dying is easy, it's comedy that's hard.

Read more here:


Posted by: The Heretik | Feb 7, 2005 1:30:10 AM

I cringe every time a Cialis ad comes on. My son is 8, and totally oblivous to sex. But I'd rather keep it that way for now.

Posted by: Eric | Feb 7, 2005 1:46:04 AM

a dick is just a dick, every other person has one.

the difference to the fundamentalists is that old people who need viagra are probably married, so the sex is (sorta) ok.

Posted by: yoyo | Feb 7, 2005 1:47:00 AM

Did anyone notice that when the pregame show Hip hop performers started gyrating,the cameras all zoomed in on their faces so as not to expose us to bumping and grinding?

However, the other act was not treated the same way. Gretchen Wilson's lyrics are hardly family friendly. I guess raunchy country/western is a FCC acceptable form of sexual proclivity, alcohol abuse and hard partying.

Posted by: def | Feb 7, 2005 2:04:24 AM

The idea that anyone needs to be spared the view of tits strikes me as offensive. Do any mothers avoid breast-feeding for fear of affending their infants' sensibilities?

California law specifically permits women to nurse in public. As manifestly sane as this may be for a mammalian species, the necessity of such a law implies a lurking insanity that might otherwise prohibit it.

Posted by: bad Jim | Feb 7, 2005 2:14:31 AM

The night's Simpsons episode was rather vicious towards religious conservatives. I wonder if execs angry at last year's hubbub and the FCC fine put them up to it.

Posted by: Matt | Feb 7, 2005 2:46:17 AM

My twenty-something nieces and nephews enjoyed Sir Paul's half-time show. They even sang along with "Hey Jude." I despair.

Posted by: bad Jim | Feb 7, 2005 4:11:12 AM

""erections lasting more than four hours..." bit a selling point in disguise?"

Only to people who want a rather unfortunate aquaintance with gangrene, which I suspect is a small market. Or nerve damage, which wouldn't be much more popular...

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Feb 7, 2005 5:45:33 AM

the difference to the fundamentalists is that old people who need viagra are probably married, so the sex is (sorta) ok.

The difference is also that the Republicans have a good realationship with the pharmaceutical industry, but their relationship with the entertainment industry is strained.

Plus, once Bob Dole did his pitch for the erectile dysfunction folks, it was mainstreamed on the right.

My view is that anybody who even watches the crap they put on at halftime during the Super Bowl, instead of getting something to eat and checking their email like a normal person, deserves whatever happens to them.

"Daddy, what's erectile dysfunction?" There's a question I'd rather not answer.

You can say that it's another problem whose nifty Republican solution is privatization! In the new Ownership Society, once people own their own erections, rather than sharing them with others, or depending for their occurrence on the stimulation of a mate, nobody will care about erectile dysfunction anymore.

Posted by: Dan Kervick | Feb 7, 2005 8:15:13 AM

But the true obscenity was Donovan McNabb's time management in the last 2 minutes.

As has already been said, Reid bears responisibility as well. Positively Martz-like at the end. But that's what happens when good teams play the Patriots.

Posted by: Miguel Sánchez | Feb 7, 2005 9:08:42 AM

Frankly, the time management issue goes beyond that. I haven't seen anyone bring this up yet, but at the tail end of the game, Philly's players were bent at the waist, gasping for breath. The entire fourth quarter, it looked as if they were worn out. The Pats, on the other hand, looked fresh.

Posted by: Raf Noboa | Feb 7, 2005 9:36:42 AM

I watched the game with my 12 and 14-year old sons, and I found the Cialis ads very offensive and intrusive. Adolescent boys and girls shouldn't be learning about sexual performance enhancement through drugs.

Posted by: jr | Feb 7, 2005 10:19:35 AM

It wasn't the nipple. It was the young mad ripping the clothing off the woman as though she were a piece of meat.

BTW, I would happily pay extra for cable that did not have any "woody" ads and no O.J., Scott Peterson, or Mikey Jackson. Its the ads disclaimers that are the worst.

Posted by: Abdul Abulbul Amir | Feb 7, 2005 10:50:21 AM

"But the true obscenity was Donovan McNabb's time management in the last 2 minutes."

*2* minutes? I thought that drive took most of the fourth quarter...

Posted by: Scott Lemieux | Feb 7, 2005 11:06:15 AM

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