Nudity. Perhaps that's NBC's strategy for maintaining high ratings if Katie Couric departs the network. The March 17 edition of Today featured a segment on a artist who seeks to "challenge the taboo issue of women’s bodies." The vehicle for such change? Why, topless women, of course. NBC was only too happy to oblige. The story, airing at 7:49AM EST, featured no less then 22 screen shots of pixilated nudity, including a seven second clip of a woman skating topless. Additionally, the photographer, Jordan Matter, is a well known liberal who stated on his website that the goal of his art project is:
Matter: "Challenging this inequity between the sexes is the purpose of my work. There has been a recent shift in America towards a socially conservative philosophy, so right after Janet Jackson's breast was exposed at the Super Bowl, I started asking women to appear topless in New York City."
You can read the quote in full by clicking here. (PLEASE NOTE: This is a link to his home page, which does NOT feature nudity. To read the above quote in full, click on photography and scroll down Be warned, that section does include some inappropriate material.) Matter is also part of a project called "Topfree Equal Rights Association." TERA works to encourage women to walk around topless. Today did not make any mention of Jordan Matter’s social liberalism. Ann Curry introduced the piece this way:
Curry: "Fair warning now, our next story deals with public nudity. So depending on your values, you may want to cover your eyes, send your kids out of the room or just move a little closer to the TV."
Other then Curry’s mild, disingenuous warning, at no time did Today address the appropriateness of showing such a story at a time when children might be getting ready for school. While titillation seemed an obvious aim, the segment also featured a heavy dose of condescension at those who would be offended at this excess of nudity. NBC interviewed only one person, a pedestrian, who expressed mild disapproval. Curry described the Janet Jackson incident at the Super Bowl as "that little clothing malfunction." Several New Yorkers who witnessed this "art display" were interviewed. One man dressed up in St. Patrick’s Day garb offered this quip in support of such nudity:
Man: "You're only passing through. We're only a number. She's got two lovely numbers!"
Is this the Today show or the Howard Stern show? Curry described how some spectators "lingered, admired the view." Another man stated, "I think it’s art. Good art." In total, there are five people who praise the event. NBC could apparently find only one person who disapproved. A pedestrian, who Today might consider to be a prude, stated, "I just don't agree with being a streaker."