It was the nipple seen ’round the world — and the birth of the now-overused term “wardrobe malfunction.”
Nine years ago this month, on Feb. 1, 2004, Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s right breast during their performance of “Rock Your Body” at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. Makes Beyoncé’s racy leather Super Bowl outfit seem tame by comparison, doesn’t it?
In the now-infamous reach-for-the-chicken-wings-and-you-missed-it moment, Timberlake tore open Jackson’s top, exposing Jackson’s right breast and some kind of nipple jewelry. Both Jackson and Timberlake insisted that the incident was a mistake — with Timberlake famously referring to it as a “wardrobe malfunction.” But FCC watchdogs were skeptical, and rightfully so: Timberlake grabbed Jackson’s bustier and caused the “malfunction” while singing the lyric “Gonna have you naked by the end of this song.” Coincidence? We don’t really think so.
The FCC didn’t think so either, and sought to levy a $550,000 fine against Super Bowl broadcaster CBS. However, after an eight-year legal battle, the fine was dropped last June after the Supreme Court refused to consider the case. Yes, folks . . . this case (almost) made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
In 2004 the incident was the most replayed moment in TiVo history, and it continues to have repercussions today: Why do you think CBS warned performers to make sure female breasts were “adequately covered” at the Grammy Awards? And at this year’s Super Bowl, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco used the term, “F------ awesome” at the end of the live broadcast, leading the Parents Television Council to call on the FCC to fine CBS yet again.
“Nine years after the infamous Janet Jackson incident, the broadcast networks continue to have ‘malfunctions’ during the most watched television event of the year, and enough is enough,” PTC president Tim Winter said in a statement.
You have to hand it to Janet and Justin: Nine years later, people are still talking about their halftime performance. And, for better or worse, Timberlake certainly lived up to his promise, “Gonna have you naked by the end of this song.”
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