It was the nipple seen round the world, for a split second. It was the moment that brought America a new catchphrase: wardrobe malfunction. While a nation munched on unhealthy snacks and drank beer at their Super Bowl XXXVIII parties, Justin Timberlake pulled on Janet Jackson's costume and exposed her bare breast to a TV audience numbering in the millions.
For those too young to remember, the moment passed without most people noticing. But more than enough did, and the internet was soon flooded with screen shots. Thirteen years later, it's safe to say that Janet Jackson's right breast is at least as famous as Katy Perry's Left Shark in Super Bowl lore.
The reaction was swift. Faced with enormous fines, CBS and just about every other media outlet went out of their way to clean up any language or fleeting nudity. While classic rock radio stations had always played The Who's unedited version of Who Are You? (with its f-bomb intact), they quickly edited out the offending language. ABC affiliates famously refused to show the important movie Saving Private Ryan because they were now worried about getting a big fine. It all but guaranteed that Schindler's List would never get another airing on broadcast TV, despite having aired uncut and uncensored previously. And the halftime show itself morphed into a parade of classic rock artists for six long years: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Stpringsteen and The Who.
So yeah, things changed after "Nipplegate." The wardrobe malfunction was the first thing I thought of when Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake hilariously announced that JT would be the headliner at Super Bowl LII's halftime show.
Social media remembered the controversy, as well, and a fair question surfaced: Why is Justin Timberlake allowed back on the Super Bowl broadcast and Janet Jackson isn't? After all, he's the one who pulled on her costume and exposed the breast. She just looked embarrassed and quickly covered up. We all remember it was Janet's breast, but how many remember that she wasn't the person who uncovered it?Even Justin Timberlake realizes he got off basically scot free, while Janet took most of the blame.
I can't really find any direct evidence that the NFL banned Janet Jackson from future NFL productions, as many people claim, but she was uninvited from the Grammy awards. MTV placed the blame squarely on her and kept her off the video service. (Then again, they don't really play music videos anymore anyway). And we haven't seen her on the Super Bowl since.
TMZ got straight to point, asking the NFL directly if Janet Jackson was banned from performing at a Super Bowl halftime show. The answer was also to the point: "There's no ban."
This is the time for everyone to make amends. There's no word on who JT's guests will be, if any, but it would be an act of goodwill if he invited Janet Jackson back to that big stage (and this time, don't tug at her clothes). Frankly, it seems like something he'd be crazy NOT to do. That's certainly what we'll all be watching for.
For the details on what happened and its aftermath, a very interesting piece from The Washington Post is worth a read.
[Photo: Getty Images]