(The incorrect one word spelling seems to be more common. We've spelled it both ways in the comments. It's easy to remember that the one word spelling is wrong: Just think about how it can be misread as "Superb Owl.")
My post, "About that silhouette," shows up on the first Google search page. So, I figure the mainstream media have caught up with Prince's phallic guitar shadow. Let's see if we're getting amusement at the blatant-yet-subtle imagery or if they're seeing it as in their interest to pretend to blow a gasket so they can manipulate readers into a frenzy like they did in the old days when Justin Timberlake popped Janet Jackson's armor-clad breast out of her costume.
If I go back to the older stories, I find things like the NYT's "A Noncontroversial Prince, Just the Way the N.F.L. Likes Him":
No doubt National Football League officials were pretty pleased... They know that the halftime show is still haunted by the specter of 2004, when Justin Timberlake enlivened an otherwise unmemorable show by baring Janet Jackson’s breast. Somehow, Timberlake’s role has been largely forgotten, but Jackson’s career has still not recovered. And compared with the controversial Jackson, Prince must seem like a pretty safe bet.I'm going to assume that -- unlike the headline writer -- the author of this piece, Kelefa Sanneh, knew that he did "get away" with something.
Would that last statement have made any sense at all 20 years ago? In 1987, Jackson was best known as Michael’s effervescent younger sister, and Prince was perhaps the most polarizing pop star in the country; the sexually frank lyrics of his “Darling Nikki” had helped spark a national debate about explicit lyrics.
Yesterday’s command performance was yet more proof that Prince has made that familiar journey from pariah to American treasure. He has a catalog of hits that everybody seems to love (even the players, who normally take little interest in the halftime show, were quoted praising Prince), and he sings and plays and moves as well as he ever did.
Best of all, he does not carry himself as a pop-star emeritus. Did you see his face during the first verse of “Purple Rain,” when he tossed his bandana into the crowd? He looked as if he were getting away with something.
(Political information not included in this article: It was specifically Al Gore's wife Tipper -- not some red state prude -- who flipped out at "Darling Nikki" and ignited that national debate about sexy song lyrics.)
Here's one of my TV photos to refresh your recollection of the subtlety/blatancy of the tiny genius's imagery:
This isn't just a chance image. The whole time the sheet was up, the shadow looked phallic and was moved about into various different phallic positions. I thought it was obvious that Prince had his eye on the silhouette and was playing a shadow game:
It looks like the main MSM story that threw a spotlight on Prince's japery was Jake Coyle's AP piece "Prince's Halftime Imagery Questioned":
A number of bloggers have decried [sic] "Malfunction!" - including Sam Anderson at New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer. Daily News television critic David Bianculli called it "a rude-looking shadow show" that "looked embarrassingly rude, crude and unfortunately placed."That was what was so brilliant about it. The kind of people who would get upset and complain couldn't see it or might perhaps think they see it but fear the embarrassment of being told that they are the one with the dirty mind.
CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said Tuesday that the network has received "very few" complaints on Prince's performance. CBS last aired the Super Bowl in 2004 when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's "wardrobe malfunction" sparked criticism and a subsequent crackdown on broadcast decency from the Federal Communications Commission.
But this time, it was the NFL that produced the halftime show (MTV had in 2004). Spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has received no complaints.
"We respect other opinions, but it takes quite a leap of the imagination to make a controversy of his performance," Aiello said. "It's a guitar."...I love all the additional amusement I'm getting out of reading things like this. It was completely clear, yet there's still the question: Did that even happen? It's this playfulness of creating ambiguity in the midst of utter clarity that will go down in pop culture history.
For decades, the electric guitar, by nature, has been considered phallic. From Jimi Hendrix's sensual 6-string swagger to Eddie Van Halen's masturbatory soloing, the guitar has often been thought an extension of a male player's sexuality.
Was Prince's pose phallic?
"The short answer is, of course it is," says Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor Gavin Edwards...And the long answer is: Wow!
"All that said, it didn't seem like a sniggering little puppet show," adds Edwards. "I think it was one of those things because a guitar at waist level does look like an enormous phallus."Oh, come on. Was Edwards watching? Give Prince credit for this creativity. This wasn't just the usual guitar-is-phallic business. This was art. It came from a mind. It wasn't "sniggering" and it (really) wasn't "little," but it actually was a puppet show. A quite clever one. The billowing sheet looked beautiful waving in the light. It fit the stadium space sublimely, and made the little man big -- which is what the Viagra-consuming football viewers are always hoping for. Give the artist the credit he deserves.
By enlarging his shadow, it's possible Prince intended to accentuate this aspect of his solo, but it's just as likely it was accidental....Now, I'm outraged at the denial of artistry. These critics think they are the perceptive ones and the dumb musicians only happen to flash imagery for the critics to choose to make real with their writing.
("All the critics love u in New York/Yes, we're certain of it, he's definitely masturbating.")
Stephen Colbert reacted with mock outrage on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" Monday night: "They knew that they were dealing with a lustful, pansexual rock 'n' roll deviant," said Colbert, who joked that the sheet hid (not enhanced) Prince's "demonic guitar phallus."...Actually, he said, "I don't care what you do with your demonic guitar phallus, any Hassid worth his [something Hassidic?] will tell you that as long as it's through a sheet it's kosher."
"If people want to be hypersensitive, they can be hypersensitive," says Rolling Stone's Edwards. "Those trombones are phallic, too. What are you going to do?"I am going to draw a distinction between artistic creativity and mere chance.