When NFL planners billed the eccentric artist formerly known as Prince and more recently known by an unpronounceable and indecipherable symbol and presently known once again as Prince for the Superbowl halftime show, they thought they were in for clear sailing. Ever since Janet Jackson bared her breast, they've been looking for entertainment more family friendly, yet not so family friendly that viewers switch the channel to check out other offerings. Since Paul McCartney never gave Ed Sullivan any trouble, and the Rolling Stones only gave him a little, they were booked for two successive years, to general satisfaction. But with Prince.....well, how could they miss? He is electrifying, young but not so young as to turn off the old boy beer and chips base, and best of all.....no worries about anything inappropriate since he became one of Jehovah's Witnesses a few years back!
Well.....um....uh.....ahem....it didn't exactly turn out that way. I mean, the performance was riveting and all....easily besting the shows of those old guys mentioned above, but there was a controversy. Did he not, for one brief segment, use his electric guitar as a giant phallic symbol?! That's the charge that was made, with regard to a backlit scene in which his profile was projected onto a screen!
As expert in all things JW, people flooded me with requests for an opinion, or at least you never know when they may start. Did he or didn't he, Tom Sheepandgoats, hmm? So I diligently reviewed the tape, just like referees review close calls on the field.
Actually, I didn't review the tapes. I didn't have to. I haven't seen a Superbowl in years, but I did see this one. And I didn't see it just because our guy was playing. I didn't know he was playing until halftime. No, some friends had invited us over for the game. And.....trust me on this....they didn't know Prince was playing either. In fact, I'm a little surprised they knew the Superbowl was playing.
So I saw the performance live. And, uh.....hmm....well....it's like....that is....um, it did kinda look that way. But maybe I'm just a prurient pig with a gutter way of seeing things.
Because not everyone agreed. Even rock music potheads who would love it that way conceded it might have been accidental. There's a reason those 24 elders in Revelation chapter 5 are playing harps and not electric guitars! The way you strap on and hold an electric guitar always subjects you to the risk of seeming risqué, if viewed from a certain angle, especially via projected shadow.
"If people want to be hypersensitive, they can be hypersensitive," says Rolling Stone's Gavin Edwards. "Those trombones are phallic, too. What are you going to do?"
I didn't know that about trombones. I promptly threw mine in the trash.
Many blog comments mirrored that of Scott Cohen, a self-described religious guy (Jewish) who tours with a band, and who ranks Prince concerts among his top favorites, and who has a music degree from Syracuse, and who is fed up with the phallic accusation with all its prudish and holier-than-thou implications. "Prince dedicates every show to Jesus Christ and anyone who knows about his current beliefs knows that he will no longer swear or perform songs like "Darling Nikki"...etc.....I thought the Superbowl performance was terrific...and didn't notice any phallic nothing..." So there!
Among the tunes Prince morphed into his show was Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower in which he ignored the early verses to instead chime in with "all along the watchtower, Princes kept the view." Was he making a sly plug for his spiritual views in front of 90 million people, someone wanted to know?
The most vehement criticism came from that subset of religious folk who can't stand Jehovah's Witnesses! I mean, a lot of folks don't really care for them.....after all, we wake them when they're sleeping in late. I'm not talking about these people. I'm talking about the smaller bunch who positively loathe Jehovah's Witnesses, some of them ex-Witnesses themselves who went sour, guys like Barfendogs. Their comments took the form of "gotchas" and they gloatingly anticipated seeing Prince disfellowshipped [!] and if he wasn't.... well, that would just prove (to them) JW hypocrisy. But you can't pay these soreheads any attention. These are the same people who lambaste Witnesses for being mind control cultists who forbid personal expression.
Say what you want about Prince, with or without the phallic tempest. He certainly did express himself, didn't he?
Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise— why destroy yourself? Ecclesiastes 7:16 NIV