Over the weekend, CBS announced that Justin Timberlake would be headlining next year’s Super Bowl Halftime show. Personally, I was surprised that they waited this long to invite him. But after seeing the response to the news, I can see why they wanted to let some time pass before Justin graced a Superbowl stage again. Unfortunately, though 14 years wasn’t enough time. Because when the news hit, social media, particularly Twitter erupted with dissension over the decision.
The outcry was a result of Justin and Janet’s 2004 halftime performance. If you were old enough at that time, you remember it well. As Justin sings, “Gotta have you naked by the end of this song,” he walked over to Janet and ripped the front of her costume, revealing her breast. Her nipple was covered by a pastie.
The FCC was sent into a tizzy behind the whole thing. Reportedly, the incident occurred within 9/16ths of a second, the image was broadcast all over the world. Outraged viewers, over 200,000 of them. (I imagine mostly White women), called in to complain to the FCC and Janet Jackson suffered.
According to Rolling Stone, CBS banned MTV from producing any future half-time shows. Upset by being ousted, they punished Jackson. Viacom, MTV’s parent company refused to show her videos on any of their properties: VH1, MTV and radio stations under the company as well.
That same year, Janet was set to present an award to Luther Vandross at the 2004 Grammys. She was uninvited. Timberlake came through though and won two awards. During his acceptance speech, he apologized for the “unintentional” incident.
Janet Jackson’s “Nipplegate” is said to be the impetus for YouTube, subscriptions to TiVo and DVR jump exponentially as consumers are looking for ways to rewind, record and freeze the notorious event.
Jackson’s eighth studio album Damita Jo, underperformed during its debut but still sells enough to be number 2 on the Billboard 200. It would eventually be certified platinum several times over.
After legal battles where CBS came out on top every time, the hoopla finally died down. And in 2014, former FCC chairman Michael Powell did a complete 180. He went from calling the incident “a new low for primetime television” to admitting that the the blame was unfairly placed on Jackson.
“I personally thought that was really unfair. It all turned into being about her. In reality, if you slow the thing down, it’s Justin ripping off her breastplate.”
I’ve always believed the two of them were in on it together. After all, bras don’t exactly rip that easily or just one cup at a time. But if America needs a villain and the choices are a White man and a Black woman, you know who’s going to suffer.
If they were going to “punish” these two, it should have been doled out equally. And that’s why people are outraged that Justin has been invited back to perform.