This is just to say...
Shame on Entertainment Weekly for approving Margeaux Watson's review of Janet Jackson's Discipline, in which ageism (and probably sexism) supplants criticism. The offending paragraph reads:
If you thought the 41-year-old Jackson, not unlike Madonna and Prince, would drop the nympho shtick and embrace more age-appropriate songwriting and production instead of competing with the Beyoncés and Rihannas of today...you'd be wrong. Fans rejected the childish, soft-core dirty talk of 20 Y.O. ,but rather than see that as a signal to grow up, Jackson scuttles the maturing process and regresses even further to the creepy, X-rated lyrics that weighed down 2004's Damita Jo. ''I misbehaved/And my punishment should fit my crime/Tie me to something/Take off all my clothes/Daddy, I want u to take ur time,'' she coos on the title track, an S&M fantasy that borders on a repressed incest memory, set to an R&B slow jam co-written and produced by Ne-Yo.
The Puritanism runs thick: Janet's "childish," not yet grown up and even regressing for including a song (one! ONE!) about S&M. Watson packs in the qualifications, as though she's trying to divert us from what she's really saying: at 41, Janet shouldn't be talking about sex. I'll up the explicitness and say: bullshit. First of all, don't fetishes tend to develop as a result of extended sexual maturation? I know it's not always the case, but still: in any facet of life, it seems that it takes time to cultivate taste, explore interests and build experience to make experimenting worthwhile. Frankly, I don't want to hear anyone under 40 tackling S&M (I've never been really into The Velvet Rope, go figure) -- leave the advanced stuff to the grown-ups, thanks. Secondly, I guess by labeling this "shtick," the implication is that Janet's being insincere. Whatever. She's famous enough to make reclusiveness a smart choice. What else is she going to do in her downtime but have sex? Besides, when you're a superstar of that magnitude, you have little chance for normalcy when it comes to social interaction. It seems as far as life experiences go, sexual encounters and the personal pleasure derived from them are among the most plausible topics that Janet reports on.
On top of all of this, the fact that "Discipline" comes off as a repressed incest memory is exactly what's so fascinating about the song, anyway. Hello? She's a Jackson! She's endured obvious abuse! Furthermore, that family has made a practice of communicating about every aspect their lives in mixed signals and riddles. A song like this could be something of an S.O.S. Janet's sending from the guarded palace from which no Jackson escapes, no matter where he or she goes.
And just so you aren't confusing this for blind idolatry, I think it's perfectly reasonable to dislike this album. Maybe in ways other than sex, Janet isn't age-appropriate (although, again I say: Jackson = arrested development = fascinating). It's perfectly reasonable to critique Janet's public exploration of sex that's been happening for literally 15 years. Though I have no problem with Janet doing this (I think it actually becomes only bolder as she gets older), I also have no problem with people feeling like they've heard it all before and being over it. A request for new ideas to add to public discourse is a fair request, indeed. However, that's a matter of quantity. Making this about age is straight-up intolerant. Hateful, even. But at least that makes the sentiment transparent: as is always the case with hate, the problem doesn't come from the hated, but the hater.