Down With Janet And Up With People!
By Grainger David

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Let the rabble debate the particulars of the Janet-and-Justin Super Bowl scandal. On purpose, not on purpose, whatever. What FORTUNE wants to know is, What does it mean for Up With People?

You remember Up With People, right? They were the singers who performed during halftime at four Super Bowls, the last in 1986. The organization sent young folks around the world to do community service and then sing about it in clap-along numbers like "Heart's Still Beating," "What Color Is God's Skin?", and "Stop It," a street rap about gang wars. The lyrics to the group's title song say it all: "Up, up with people/You meet 'em wherever you go/Up, up with people/They're the best kind of folks we know." (Or maybe they don't say anything: What does that mean, exactly? Did Yogi Berra write that?)

Regardless, the whole thing was a little too Amway to last forever. The world wanted marching bands; it wanted Shania Twain in a diamond-laced bra and hot pants. In fact, when Up With People ceased operation in 2000, the Washington Post joked about the organization's desperate move toward "Janet Jackson--style choreography."

If it had only known. Now that half the world seems outraged by Janet-Justin, perhaps it's time to bring back the "Uppies," as they were called. In fact, Up With People is gearing up for a relaunch this August. The mission is still vague--COO Hiro Nishimura says it is to "encourage integrity and respect for people everywhere"--but the musical performance aspect has been "downsized" to a few daylong celebrations.

Hmm...Might one of those be at the Super Bowl?

"That is up to the NFL," says Nishimura. "It is something we cannot control."

Sounds like a yes to us. Besides, the NFL has said it's "unlikely" that MTV will be invited back. Who else is left? Everybody clap if you're Up With People! --Grainger David