What is this country coming to? Fox and the NFL cancelled the second showing of Go Daddy’s Super Bowl ad that featured the buxom woman at a congressional committee hearing whose “wardrobe malfunction” and sexy dance satirized Janet Jackson’s memorable 2004 halftime appearance.
I’m a happy GoDaddy.com customer, using them for domain registration and web site hosting. Their customer service is excellent and their sense of humor admirable (I love their logo). Bob Parsons, the Go Daddy CEO, tells the tale of the ad cancellation on his weblog. He’s getting virtually universal support from commenters on his post who, at the time I looked, were all male.
So what? The ad wasn’t sexist, but satirically sexual. When I told my resident female, Laurel, about the cancellation, she gave me the quote above: “What is this country coming to?” Sunday evening we watched a TV show that was billed as a battle between top-rated Super Bowl ads over the years and top-rated ads from other countries. Almost universally we found the non-U.S. ads to be funnier, sexier, edgier, and more compelling.
I don’t know how effective the Go Daddy ad was (it barely mentioned what Go Daddy does), but it definitely was entertaining, eye-catching, and provocative. Most likely any European TV network would have happily broadcast the ad as many times as GoDaddy had the (big) bucks to pay for it.
By itself, this act of censorship may not seem to be a big deal. But it reflects a disturbing trend in the United States away from freedom of expression and toward a tyranny by the easily-offended. This year we had to watch a quasi-geriatric Super Bowl halftime show with not a single female performer in sight—just an aging Beatle and his all-male band who sang familiar hits from decades past.
Yes, the fireworks were cool. Yet the hottest part of the Super Bowl, aside from the football action, was the Go Daddy ad, and it got frozen by timid Fox/NFL executives. They must have seen the ad ahead of time, for most of it was broadcast on the Sunday evening show that Laurel and I watched. So why pull it at the last minute?
My suspicion is that emails and phone calls flooded in after the first showing from the censorship-loving religious right. Whether or not this turns out to be true, the Go Daddy ad episode is evidence that it’s time for a serious discussion of whether this country is turning its back on the First Amendment.