Nipper Would Be Ashamed

The Grammy Award Show was yesterday. Full disclosure: I didn’t watch any of it.

For the uninitiated, the Grammys are the music industry’s Super Bowl. Unlike the NFL, however, the powers behind the Grammys haven’t figured out how to squeeze in the maximum amount of annoyance to their customers. They’ve got the “no commoners” thing going. Even better than the NFL, even. At least Super Bowl tickets are available to the public, even if the average football fan can’t afford them; the Grammys, as is the case for most award shows, are invitation-only*. But in other respects, the music industry has a long way to go.

* You can, however, buy tickets to various after-show parties. A few years ago, for example, Diddy threw a benefit party with ticket prices ranging from $1,500 to $50,000. One “perk” at the high end: your own posse of booth babes–excuse me, “promotional models”. I’m not sure what you would do with fifteen decorative accessories, but I suppose if you could afford the ticket, you could afford to hire someone to come up with a plan.

The NFL not only screwed up traffic in San Francisco for more than a week and subjected random pedestrians who weren’t even going to Super Bowl-related events to pat-downs and metal detectors, but they convinced the city to pay for the security.

By contrast, the Grammys only interfered with traffic over a few blocks and a few hours, and the only security I’m aware of–paid for by the show–concentrated on the people at the venue.

Come on, guys. How will we know the music industry is successful if you don’t drive away thousands of potential customers?

Then there was the show itself.

The reviews are scathing. The best review I’ve seen suggested that the show occasionally reached adequacy.

Lady Gaga, fresh off wowing the Super Bowl audience with her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” reportedly underwhelmed Grammy viewers with her extended David Bowie medley. Several acts were spoiled by audio problems–remember, this is a show devoted to the best in music*. Shouldn’t the producers pay attention to the miking, mixing, and other technical matters first?

* Well, “best” according to those who run the show. Them what gots the gold makes the rules.

I hear Bonnie Raitt’s part of the B.B. King tribute was one of the rare high points. I imagine that’ll show up on YouTube–heck, it’s probably there already. My plan is to take a listen to that and ignore the remaining four hours of the show.

And there’s another way the Grammys fall short of the Super Bowl’s annoyance factor: by tomorrow, it will be possible to ignore the Grammys until next year. A week after the Super Bowl, the media is still blathering about it (yes, including me–sorry about that).

Look for the Grammys to step up their game next year. Until then, enjoy the peace and quiet. And go buy some music from an artist who wasn’t at the Grammys, just to say “thank you”.

Butt Wait

The Grammys have officially jumped the shark.

No, not as an award ceremony–by definition award ceremonies start out on the far side of the shark. I’m talking about its usefulness as a microcosm of society, a breeding ground for controversies that shed light on what we collectively think.

This year, there isn’t much. Ignoring the strictly musical controversies*–because they’re completely matters of taste and not subject to rational discussion–we’re left with one burning question: Is Madonna too old to be showing off her rear end?

* Sam Smith’s three wins and Kanye West’s opinion about the best album of the year, if you must know.

Really? That’s the best we can do for controversy? I despair of my fellow human beings.

Bottom line (sorry): No. Nobody is too old to flash whatever body parts they want to.

Exposing body parts is Madonna’s shtick. We would be more surprised if she didn’t flash something.

But if you read that article carefully, you’ll see that the complainers are not objecting to any specific deficiencies in Madonna’s buns. What they’re saying is that she’s too old to flash. In other words, it’s not an aesthetic debate over her appearance, it’s a strictly ageist statement that by definition a fifty-six-year-old body is offensive.

As the possessor of a body almost that old, I find the implications alarming. I have no intention of showing my butt on national television, but I doubt that anyone would be struck blind if I did. There have been no reports of a national epidemic of vision problems inspired by Madonna’s derriere.

Maybe you don’t want to look at her butt. I don’t either, honestly. But it’s got nothing to do with her age.

I’m not trying to equate flashing or public nudity to free speech–though there’s certainly an argument for that. But if Madonna is within the bounds of local law in exposing herself to the stare of the camera and the glare of the press, her age has no relevance to the question of whether she should. And the same applies to everyone else.

So please: the next time you run into Natasha Koifman, Karen Salkin, Dani Stahl, or Jeanette Settembre, strike a blow against ageism and flash your ass.