According to the Lycos 50, which tracks internet usage, the unfortunate incident in the Super Bowl halftime (involving Janet Jackson and some very poor sartorial decisions) may have set a record for the most-searched event in internet history. Janet beat several other high-search events, garnering, for example, five times as many web searches as the Columbia explosion. Apparently the only possible contender for most-searched event is September 11. The calculation is tricky, but in the aggregate, the events appear to have generated about equivalent search traffic. Aaron Schatz writes on Lycos 50:

Prior to this week, the most-searched event in the history of the Lycos 50 over a one-day period was the September 11 attack on America. Although it is very difficult to compare searches for the two events, it looks like the Super Bowl halftime show was the equal of September 11 when it comes to Internet attention. That is, to put it bluntly, mind-blowing.”

Yes, it is.

11 comments for “Priorities

  1. February 4, 2004 at 9:31 pm

    I wouldn’t read too much into it. I think a lot of people weren’t sure if it actually happened. We were watching the game and everyone said, “was that what we thought it was?” Fortunately we have a TiVo built in and rewound it. Then we had the inevitable debate about the decline of western civilization, whether it was planned or accidental and so forth. I think the fact that it was from a distance and was hard to see and happened during the most watched show of the year made people more interested.

  2. Kristine
    February 4, 2004 at 9:41 pm

    Clark, I was about to say “well, thank goodness none of US were watching.” I’m agog ;>)

  3. February 4, 2004 at 10:56 pm

    I’m with Clark. My wife and I both looked at each other in astonishment and then looked it up later.

    The more annoying thing is that Janet has a new album coming out in the spring.

    As they say, no publicity is bad publicity.

    She could be fined $10 million (if that were even possible) and it would STILL probably be a good investment and a smart “business” move on her part.

    Welcome to America, where we are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of one uping each other in most shocking moment.

  4. Kaimi
    February 4, 2004 at 10:58 pm


    I’ve also read that it was the most Tivo-ed event ever. I guess you are part of that calculation. :)

  5. lyle
    February 4, 2004 at 11:09 pm

    $10 million fine? i don’t think so. the NYT (not that they are an authority) said 37k in fines for each individual or station.

  6. February 4, 2004 at 11:17 pm


    I don’t follow. Are you saying that $10 million is inaccurate because it’s too much or too little? 37k for each individual or station doesn’t mean much to me.

    My point was that Janet’s going to make a killing off her new album.

  7. A edwards
    February 5, 2004 at 3:00 am

    Madonna & Brittney must be peeved!

  8. Adam Greenwood
    February 5, 2004 at 11:52 am

    What was your conclusion in the debate about the decline of Western Civilization being planned or accidental?
    I’m holding out for planned, solely because it’s more interesting.

  9. February 5, 2004 at 2:22 pm

    I’m inclined to seeing it as a publicity stunt for her album. I’m not sure the N’Sync guy knew but I think Jackson did.

    On the other hand I don’t tend to see it as the end of the world. First it was rather hard to see. Secondly I rather doubt that CBS or even MTV knew about it. Further if you look at how media outlets are reacting, it clearly is something *not* tolerated. If anything the event shows that the average American was rather upset at it – leading me to think that the nation is doing quite well.

  10. Scott
    February 5, 2004 at 4:27 pm

    I’m skeptical of the claim that no one at CBS or MTV knew about it. At the dramatic closing of the act, the performers were shown, as Clark said, from a distance and so it was hard to see. Why? When shooting musical performances, it is customary (almost universal, actually) to finish a number with a close-up of the performer. Except when cutting away to show other elements (e.g., musicians, dancers, words spelled out on cards, etc.), the performances that night were mostly shot with typical angles that allowed the performers to fill the screen. Why–in the closing moment of the final number in the program–did they cut back to a Goodyear Blimp-eye view of the performers? I don’t know who was in charge of the cameras that night–CBS, NFL, or MTV. But, whoever it was, I suspect, knew what was coming.


  11. Kaimi
    February 5, 2004 at 4:49 pm

    The latest comments suggest that there was an original plan for him to pull off part of her top, and that she would have some lacy underwear below it. So maybe it really was a “wardrobe malfunction.”

    I like Dowd’s comment about it:

    “The Janet and Justin show was unbelievably tawdry, but also unbelievably banal — another rehearsed pseudoshock that the media, and now the government, gladly play along with.”


    (See )

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