When it comes to the controversial Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake Super Bowl moment, the Rhythm Nation singer says fans need to move on from that event.
It featured a notorious Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction and much backlash afterward. It was among topics the singer discussed during her recent two-night documentary event on Lifetime.
Janet also opened up about her friendship with Justin Timberlake, whom she performed with during the NFL’s big game 18 years ago.
Janet Jackson discusses controversial Super Bowl moment
The Super Bowl halftime show has featured many memorable performers over the years, including Michael Jackson in 1993, Diana Ross in 1996, and Aerosmith in 2001.
However, it was a Super Bowl performance in February 2004 that created controversy and caused issues for singer Janet Jackson due to the backlash over her wardrobe malfunction.
Jackson appeared as one of several halftime performers for Super Bowl XXXVIII, and as a surprise performer, NSYNC’s Justin Timberlake joined her on stage. To close the show, Justin performed his song Rock Your Body.
As Justin’s performance ended, he sang the final line, “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song,” then pulled off part of Janet’s costume, which exposed her right breast on national TV.
Despite a camera attempt to pan away, it was too late as millions of viewers saw it happen. It made headlines for long after it occurred. The incident also became the most rewatched TIVO moment of all time.
It’s still something discussed to this day, and in her Janet Jackson documentary on Lifetime, Jackson spoke about the controversy again after all these years.
“Honestly, this whole thing was blown way out of proportion,” Jackson said in Part 2 of the documentary, adding, “And, of course, it was an accident that should not have happened, 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 very good friends.”
She mentioned she’d spoken with Justin “just a few days ago” before urging fans to get past that drama from 2004. Janet said that she and Justin “have moved on and it’s time for everyone else to do the same.”
Controversy brought backlash for Janet
Following that controversial Super Bowl moment in 2004, Janet issued a public apology for the incident. Timberlake also apologized for what he referred to as a “wardrobe malfunction,” although speculation arose that it was a planned publicity stunt.
“I am really sorry if I offended anyone. That was truly not my intention … MTV, CBS, the NFL had no knowledge of this whatsoever, and unfortunately, the whole thing went wrong in the end,” Jackson said in a statement she released to the media on video.
Despite Janet’s apology, there were repercussions for the incident. Per Rolling Stone, over 200,000 people contacted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to complain about Janet’s performance.
Janet and Justin were both set to appear at the 46th Grammy Awards a week after the Super Bowl halftime show incident. However, only Justin was allowed to attend while CBS forced Janet to withdraw as a presenter.
In addition to that, Janet released a new album in March called Damita Jo, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. However, the album may have done even better if that controversial moment hadn’t followed Janet.
Unfortunately, the album got blacklisted from many radio and music channels. Many critics’ reviews brought up the Super Bowl incident, which overshadowed the actual musical release.
Timberlake apologized to Jackson, Spears last year
Last year, Justin Timberlake shared an Instagram post in which he apologized for times he “fell short” in particular moments where his “actions contributed to the problem,” or he should have spoken up for what was right.
“I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed,” Timberlake said in his Instagram post.
Timberlake went on to say that the “industry is flawed” and “sets men, especially white men, up for success.”
“As a man in a privileged position I have to be vocal about this. Because of my ignorance, I didn’t recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again,” he said.
Interestingly, the infamous Super Bowl halftime controversy 18 years ago was part of a game featuring a much younger Tom Brady winning his second championship with the Patriots. However, the halftime incident seemed to overshadow the game and is still talked about when it comes to the performances people remember.
With a new group of performers set to take the stage this February, Janet Jackson has moved on from that drama and believes others need to do the same.