On February 1, 2004, the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII shocked the Nation during a duet performed when Janet Jackson’s chest was mistakenly revealed. The wardrobe malfunction occurred during the live airing, seen by an estimated 143.6 million people. [i]
What happened with Justin Timberlake and Janet?
During the halftime show, Janet Jackson performed a duet with Justin Timberlake. Everything was going according to plan until the end of the pair’s performance. As Justin Timberlake sings the song's last words, he aggressively rips at Jackson’s top, exposing Jackson. The camera pans away, but not before Jackson is exposed. [ii]
Watch a replay of the incident below.
The aftermath of the accidental exposure
Following the incident, Malfunction, a documentary, revealed that Jackson left the performance in tears, immediately fleeing the arena. Janet Jackson was blamed at the height of the world’s response to the incident. Then CEO of CBS, Les Moonves attempted to have Jackson pay the $550,000 FCC fines that resulted from the incident on live television. [iii]
It would not be until eight years later that the Supreme Court ruled in the case in which CBS was fighting against paying the $550,000 fine slapped on them by the FCC. Ultimately, the court found the FCC’s claims flimsy, especially since other, more expletive content had made its way onto live television during the same period. [iv]
Despite fans’ excitement surrounding the release of her documentary, many were disappointed to find that there was minimal new reporting surrounding the incident. Many others argued that the script tried too hard to push the agenda that racism and sexism played a role in how Jackson was treated. [v]
For more about the documentary, watch the video below.
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[i] Mike, Janet Jackson Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show (Dec. 19, 2019)
[iii] John Russel, What ‘Malfunction’ clarifies about Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s infamous Super Bowl halftime show (2021)
[iv] Gabe Zaldivar, Supreme Court Rules on Janet Jackson Super Bowl Wardrobe Malfunction (Jun. 29, 2012)
[v] IMDb, The New York Times Presents - Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson - User Reviews (2021)
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