In 2004, Janet Jackson's life was changed forever when her Super Bowl performance with Justin Timberlake sparked controversy. What really happened after that will change the way you think about her.
Most might associate her with Michael Jackson's younger sister, but Janet Jackson has built her own brilliant, remarkable and iconic career. She inspired a generation of pop singers, played a role in the birth of modern R&B, and has more awards than can be counted.
But an incident at the Superbowl halftime show became a big and unfortunate part of his legacy. Dubbed "Nipplegate", the incident is known as the most controversial incident to ever occur in the history of American broadcasting. A slew of memes, panels, lawsuits, bans, skits, debates, and apologies followed the halftime show, immediately, and years later.
The appearance of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson at the 2004 break may go down in history as something scandalous and unthinkable. But the impact on their careers tells a very different story. Over time, the public was able to reflect on the subject and draw their own conclusions.
But that doesn't change the fact that Janet has fought a deep and unfair battle over the years. but she hasesperanzain their struggle and there are lessons we can learn for ourselves.
An onstage wardrobe malfunction made Janet a public pariah.
Directing the Superbowl halftime show is every entertainer's dream. Janet also lived her dream that night. At the end of his performance, Justin Timberlake appeared onstage as a surprise guest. They sang Justin's single "Rock Your Body" and the dance moves got hotter by the minute. The two began to crawl, but the suggestive dance steps were part of the story.
At the end of the set, Justin removed a piece of Janet's costume, exposing her right breast with only a few nipple jewels left. The revelation only lasted a second, but it changed American television forever. According to reps for Janet and Justin, the plan was for Justin to remove the rubber bra but only reveal a red lace bra. But due to a wardrobe mishap, his entire chest was exposed to the cameras.
The backlash that followed the incident has never been equaled and never will be. Janet was forced to apologize and nearly half a million complaints were filed with the FCC. A class action lawsuit was filed against Janet and Justin. Everyone involved in the entire disaster had to pay hefty fines.
What's worse is that Janet's career was never the same. From himMusicand videos were pulled from radio and TV stations, she was forced to give up film roles, she was not invited to the Grammys, and she was blacklisted several times. About what happened, Janet said that she was embarrassed, but also did not understand the great emotion. Shetheseunited states today
There are much worse things in the world and I don't understand why this focus is so big. […] Everything that happened showed me the strength I really have. I always said I wanted my mother's beauty and strength, and now I realize I have them.
Justin escaped at the time, but regrets handling the crisis.
Double standards in the industry have been widely exposed. It took a long time for show business to recognize just how dirty Janet was. In the Me Too world, women have a bigger platform to speak their truths. But the same industry that today promotes women's empowerment was silent on the issue sixteen years ago.
Justin Timberland continues to have an exciting, successful and popular career. Shortly after the break, Justin told the media, "Hey, let's goamarso everyone has something to talk about.” He also hinted that the stunt was planned, although it clearly wasn't, as seen by Janet's immediate reaction onstage.
It took Justin two full years to publicly apologize for not standing up for Janet. Hecalled:
In my honest opinion, he could have handled it better now. […] I'm probably 10 percent guilty and that says something about society. I think America is harder on women. And I think America is unfairly hard on ethnic people.
In 2018, Justin revealed that he had made "my peace" with Janet in the years since. He admitted that he "stumbled" throughout the ordeal, but neither can he replay it over and over in his head. Hecalled:
It's just something to look back on and say, 'Okay, you can't change what happened, but you can move forward and learn from it.'
Janet Forgave Justin And Thinks He's 'Strong'
In the years following the controversy, Janet was reluctant to speak about the issue. In a 2006 interview withOprah, Janet stated that it would be her "first and last" time speaking about the Superbowl concert.
She said at the time that she thought it was unfair that the emphasis was placed on her in the first place and that it was weird dealing with her alone. Janet also apologized for apologizing for an accident that she was not responsible for.
Janet said Justin was still her friend and reached out to comfort her in her time of crisis. She said:
I consider him a friend. I am very loyal and friendship is very important to me.
Over the years, Janet has focused on her career, motherhood, and preserving her spiritual wealth. But the bullying did not stop. in a 2019Interview, Janet said the bullying and abuse is still "ongoing". She added that people might assume that people in her position wouldn't experience this type of bullying, but it happens to her routinely. She said she sometimes needs to approach the drama "head on", but that can make her uncomfortable.
Before the release of their latest albumblack diamond, Janet spoke about how she has grown over time and how that reflects on her album. She said of the album's title:
It is the hardest stone, the diamond, which can be polished. I immediately heard that it was difficult to hurt, to destroy. And in recent years, I've found that I'm incredibly strong. [...] I look like this rock, you know, with rough edges. And I just want to share some of my strengths and stories.
In times of crisis, never doubt your character
Janet should be applauded for putting her head down all these years and letting the speech take over. She didn't say anything, knowing full well that she hadn't done anything wrong. As perspectives in popular culture shifted, she was rightly hailed as someone brave and tough to handle controversy with such dignity. The public and media abandoned her when she needed it most, but eventually people came to her and apologized.
While most of us won't be hitting the Superbowl stage anytime soon, we must remember that similar controversies or crises will surround us too. It will be so easy to crumble under the pressure and endlessly apologize to be liked by everyone.
But in these dark times we must know our worth and never doubt our character. When we know in our hearts that we haven't done anything wrong, then we have nothing to apologize for. Avoiding judging ourselves and focusing on our sanity first and foremost is the way to go. If you've really done nothing wrong, people will recognize your sensitivity and eventually acknowledge their own wrongs.
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