Stars shine despite censored dress code

“Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible ‘puffy’ bare skin exposure.”

And so read the memo sent by CBS executives to all performers and attendees of the 2013 Grammys that aired live Sunday. Over the years, the Grammys, known as the biggest night in music, has been a highlight in the awards season. Instead of stuffy interviews and classy designer gowns, pop stars, EDM DJs, rock singers and more decide to be just as outrageous as their music through their fashion.

After all, who can forget J. Lo’s epic Versace gown from 2000? All navel and barely fabric. Or what about Lady Gaga’s red carpet arrival in an egg? Yes, an egg, carried by several people.

The Grammys is not a night to be subtle. Musicians are some of the most eccentric, creative people on the planet and a night when they’re celebrated is a night for them to party. We can’t expect them to be anything other than their outrageous selves.

So the fact that some executives at CBS thought it would be a great idea to do send out this memo in the first place is laughable. Literally, laughable. I couldn’t help but burst into laughter picturing a bunch of old men in suits writing the words, “Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible ‘puffy’ bare skin exposure.”

Network censorship has always been an issue — since the advent of television. Hence, Lucy and Ricardo sleeping in separate beds, the lack of homosexual storylines on scripted shows well into the ’90s and family-friendly, all-wrapped-up-in-a-bow endings on episodic shows.

But now it’s 2013 and we can’t keep trying to censor people for simply being themselves. Organizations like the Parents Television Council can write their letters saying that gay kissing is corrupting our youth, but it’s not going to do anything. And one can write a letter telling people not to wear sheer dresses and it might work, but chances are people are just going to find a way around it.

Which they did. The 2013 Grammys were full of sheer gowns, and so-called “bare sides or under curvature of the breasts.” A simple memo didn’t do much to silence the crowd. These are the Grammys — if you want a wholesome show, turn to ABC Family. When you invite artists like Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Drake, Kimbra and more, expect a little craziness. Rihanna arrived in a beautiful sheer scarlet gown with criss-cross panels across her chest. At least her nipples were covered, right?

Red carpet queen of the Grammys Jennifer Lopez arrived in a one-shouldered black gown with her entire right leg sticking out up to her hip: When you can’t show what’s up top, show what’s down. Meanwhile, Perry’s green dress was supposed to be an ode to 1970’s Priscilla Presley but wound up looking more like an ode to her breasts.

Yes, certain things should be off-limits. Of course, no nudity should be allowed on network TV before a certain time in case some kid accidently stumbles upon it while flipping through channels. But while J. Lo’s dress wasn’t exactly the most demure frock, it was her choice to wear it. All of the necessary bits were covered so offended onlookers don’t have much to go on. It’s your choice to think that another person’s outfit is skanky or ugly or beautiful, but you can’t force them not to wear it because you don’t like it. I loved Rihanna’s gown; I thought it was sexy and classy, but I thought that Perry’s was on a train to tacky town.

Making music is an expression of an artist. And in today’s day and age, an artist’s style is part of the package. Style, in general, is a physical representation of the person underneath those clothes. Telling me that I can’t wear a certain something only stifles my creativity and forces me to wear something that is more part of the “system.”

Hopefully, executives begin to realize the ridiculousness of their wants and begin to understand that you can’t cage a person. We’re lucky enough to live in a country that prides itself on democracy and freedom, and if a pop star or two wants to show off their freedom to wear weird outfits, why not?


Sheridan Watson is a junior majoring in critical studies. Her column “A Stitch In Time” runs Tuesdays.