Did Prince perpetrate a 'guitar malfunction'?
In the sensitive post-wardrobe-malfunction world, some are questioning whether a guitar was just a guitar during Prince's Super Bowl halftime show.
Prince's acclaimed performance included a guitar solo during the "Purple Rain" segment of his medley in which his shadow was projected onto a large, flowing beige sheet. As the 48-year-old rock star let rip, the silhouette cast by his figure and his guitar (shaped like the singer's symbol) had phallic connotations for some.
A number of bloggers have cried "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."
Speaking for CBS, 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 did 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."
For decades, the electric guitar, by nature, has been considered phallic. From Jimi Hendrix's sensual 6-string swagger to Eddie Van Halen's suggestive 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, who points out that on Prince's "Purple Rain" tour in the mid-1980s, he performed with a guitar that would squirt water out of its end during the climax of "Let's Go Crazy."