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‘Wake up, FCC’ — Who’s to blame for the lurid dancing at the Grammys?

A Wisconsin congressman and his constituents didn’t like Cardi B’s performance at the recent awards show

Rapper Cardi B attends the the Road to “Fast & Furious 9” Concert at Maurice A. Ferré Park on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in Miami, Fla.
Scott Roth/Invision via Associated Press

A Wisconsin congressman says that rapper Cardi B’s performance at the Grammy Awards was “inconsistent with basic decency,” but he’s equally upset with a government agency.

GOP Rep. Glenn Grothman said in a short speech Thursday on the House floor that people have been calling his office to complain about the March 14 performance, which featured the performer, singer Megan Thee Stallion and other women doing sexually suggestive dances to a song that infuriated conservatives last year.

The song was toned down from its original lyrics — a writer for The New York Times said it had been downgraded from R-rated to PG — but many of the dance moves were not family-friendly, and you don’t have to take Grothman’s word for it. The Grammy website said the performers “showcased their most provocative dance moves” with a “larger-than-life stripper heel” in the center of the stage.

In his speech, Grothman said people who called his office “wonder why we are paying the FCC if they feel that this should be in living rooms across the nation.”

He added, “Wake up, FCC, and begin to do your job. The moral decline of America is partly due to your utter complacency.”

The FCC regulates international and interstate communications, including radio, television and cable, and has the power to impose fines for indecent, obscene or profane content. “Broadcasting obscene content is prohibited by law at all times of the day. Indecent and profane content are prohibited on broadcast TV and radio between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience,” the agency’s website says.

Two previous fines have involved CBS, the network that aired the Grammys: Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl in 2004, which drew a $550,000 fine (later rescinded when the exposure of Jackson’s breast was deemed an accident); and a 2004 episode of “Without a Trace” that depicted teens participating in an orgy.

Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Marlenis Almanzarhas, has been hawking Reebok sneakers on Twitter lately, but she took time out to ridicule Grothman in obscenity-laced tweets. One said: “This gets me so mad ya don’t even know! I think we all been on the edge this week since we seen police brutality back to back including watching one of the biggest case in history go down DUE to police brutality but wait ! This is what state representative decide to talk about.”

The FTC received more than 1,000 complaints about the performance, which some people called pornographic, Rolling Stone reported.

But concern about the song at the heart of the performance, called “WAP,” was dismissed as “conservative pearl clutching” by one reporter and the latest controversy a “performative fight” by another writer who questioned the breadth of outrage. A Twitter account for fans of Cardi B published excerpts of some of the complaints to mock them, saying that the rapper is “iconic.”

The nonprofit National Center on Sexual Exploitation, however, also took CBS to task for the performance in a statement that said the broadcast glamorized prostitution and stripping.

“CBS has contributed to furthering the sexual exploitation of women and contributed to the ‘normalization’ of porn culture,” the statement said.

The criticism is unlikely to result in any changes in Cardi B’s style or lyrics. She has said that criticism from “insane conservatives” helps her career.