It was the nip-slip seen around the world. As the headliner of the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime show, Janet Jackson had an infamous wardrobe malfunction literally at the hands of Justin Timberlake.
So 13 years later, why has Timberlake, the man who whether deliberately or not exposed Jackson’s breast, been officially named the headliner of the 2018 Super Bowl Halftime show? The double standard reeks of sexism and white privilege and is being pointed out on social media with the hashtag, #JusticeForJanet.
Back in 2004, Timberlake appeared as a surprise guest and the two sang Timberlake’s hit “Rock Your Body” while dancing playfully across the stage.
“Bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song,” the former ‘N Sync star sang as he tore off a piece of Jackson’s top, revealing her pierced nipple to nearly 90 million viewers.
After the performance, Miss Jackson (cause she was deemed nasty) was vilified in the media and court of public opinion and the incident garnered CBS a $500,000 fine from the FCC (which was later thrown out by The Supreme Court).
MTV, which produced the halftime show, placed the blame solely on Jackson. The multiple Grammy award-winner was also allegedly uninvited from that year’s Grammy awards and removed as a presenter of a tribute to an ailing Luther Vandross.
Her career never recovered. Jackson’s singles and music videos were reportedly blacklisted by Viacom, which then owned CBS and MTV among other entertainment channels. Timberlake, on the other hand, was still MTV’s golden boy and enjoyed continued success on the music charts.
“I personally thought that was really unfair,” Michael Powell, the former head of the FCC, told ESPN in 2014 of the heavy criticism Jackson received post-Nipplegate. “It all turned into being about her. In reality, if you slow the thing down, it’s Justin ripping off her breastplate.”
Both singers issued statements in the days following the broadcast.
“I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance at the Super Bowl,” Timberlake said. “It was not intentional and is regrettable.”
“The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals,” Jackson said in a written statement. “MTV was completely unaware of it. It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended — including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL.”
In a 2006 interview with MTV, Timberlake acknowledged that Jackson suffered more in wake of the controversy.
“If you consider it 50-50, then I probably got 10 percent of the blame,” Timberlake told MTV’s John Norris in a 2006 interview. “I think America is harsher on women. I think America is unfairly harsh on ethnic people.”
He added that he could have “handled [the aftermath] better.”
“I’m a part of a community that consider themselves artists,” Timberlake said. “And if there’s something that I could have done in her defense, that was more, that I could have realized, then I would have.”
To alleviate the white guilt he claimed to have over a decade ago, will Mr. “SexyBack” help lift Jackson’s lifetime Super Bowl ban and bring her out to perform with him in Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018?
Jackson is back in “Control” and in the midst of her “State of the World” tour. That would be a step towards #JusticeForJanet.