Janet Jackson doc, part 2: The Super Bowl, Justin Timberlake, and the aftermath
Janet Jackson just wants everybody to move on. And according to her Lifetime documentary, she already has.
In the final hour of Janet Jackson, the four-part Lifetime doc that aired over two nights, the pop star revealed what happened following the day Justin Timberlake yanked her top off during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show seen globally on live television.
The date, Feb. 1, 2004, lives in pop culture infamy. That night in Houston, Texas — during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII — Justin Timberlake ripped off the top of one of the most celebrated women in entertainment as audiences collectively gasped. Jackson's decades-long, thriving career suddenly seemed to combust as the controversy took a toll, she revealed in the documentary Janet Jackson.
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Dubbed "Nipplegate" by both the media and general public, the former NSYNC singer apologized and called the incident a "wardrobe malfunction" in an apology. The news of the malfunction seemed to spread to all corners world. The incident became the inspiration for the video platform YouTube, according to co-founder Jawed Karim. It became embarrassingly endless fodder for late-night hosts — all men at the time, it should be noted — who seemed to delight in the downfall of the youngest scion of a scandal-plagued family. Jackson was additionally blacklisted from MTV, and a number of other Viacom-owned properties at the behest of a vengeful Les Moonves, then Viacom CEO.
Fans of the pop star have been very vocal, demanding Timberlake, the NFL, and the network apologize to the singer and rightfully correct the story, and stand up for Jackson. However, for Jackson, it was an overblown incident — even though it impacted her career profoundly.
"It was an accident that should not have happened," she says in the documentary. "But everyone is looking for someone to blame and that's gotta stop. Justin and I are very good friends and we will always be good friends."
A&E Janet Jackson in 'Janet'
The last time Jackson addressed the Super Bowl controversy was on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006. She vowed then that was to be the first, and last, time she would address the incident. Additionally, she made it clear she regretted apologizing about the incident because it was "an accident." The singer maintained that the malfunction was not intentional. However, Jackson soon realized that just because she stopped talking about it, it did not mean the conversation was going to stop.
The New York Times' Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson — one of the latest attempts to reckon with what happened that February night in Houston and its aftermath — served as the bookend to the newspaper's previous doc concurring the public dismantling of a female pop star, Framing Britney Spears last February. The release of the Spears doc prompted Timberlake to hang his head in apology to his former girlfriend — and rather disingenuously, to Jackson, who he just lumped in with a vague line, noting that "times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem."
Janet Jackson is now streaming on Lifetime.
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