On Sunday, Justin Timberlake was confirmed as the 2018 Super Bowl LII halftime show headliner. And while a lot of people and every woman who was a teenager in the late 90s/early 2000s is probably thrilled, it wouldn’t be an NFL announcement without controversy.
Unless you live under a rock or weren’t born yet, you remember the wardrobe malfunction that sent the nation into an uproar. In 2004, the former *NSYNC band member was performing his hit song “Rock Your Body” at the Super Bowl with Jackson when he said he unintentionally pulled off Jackson’s nipple guard, briefly exposing her right breast. Justin went on largely unscathed and never apologized to Janet for the Incident.
Jackson didn’t receive the same treatment. Her spokesman called the incident “a malfunction of the wardrobe,” saying “it was not intentional” and Timberlake “was supposed to pull away the bustier and leave the red-lace bra.” That was followed by MTV, which said the tearing of Jackson’s costume “was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance.” Jackson was effectively disinvited from the Grammys, which were held the following weekend, while Justin not only got to attend the show, but won the two awards. Jackson was also blacklisted from by Viacom (which kept her music off MTV, VH1, and radio stations around the country). Timberlake has apologized further in the years since, telling MTV in 2006 that he “probably got 10% of the blame,” and that America is “unfairly harsh on ethnic people.” (USA Today).
Speculation has since surfaced that Janet Jackson was banned from the Super Bowl by the NFL. It seems sort of backwards that Justin rips off part of Janet’s top and is invited back, but Janet is banned for life. Janet’s fans on Twitter were NOT happy, imploring the haghtag #JusticeforJanet after the announcement:
The NFL has since released a statement denying that Jackson is banned from performing:
“There’s no ban. We are not going to comment on any speculation regarding potential guests. There may be no guests. Along with Pepsi, we’re excited to have Justin Timberlake. Like the elite NFL players who can run, catch, and block, Justin can do it all — sing, dance, act and entertain. He’s the ultimate global superstar who we know will put on an entertaining and unifying show that will appeal to the massive worldwide audience.”
Justin Timberlake is a monster performer of this generation. It’s a smart move by the NFL to get him back on the stage no question. Unfortunately, Jackson’s career still bares visible scars from this incident. Will Justin bring Janet out as a special guest? We’ll see. Should he? Absolutely.
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