In 2004, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed during the Super Bowl halftime show for Super Bowl 38. During the Super Bowl performance, Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction after Timberlake pulled part of her outfit.
The moment became a huge controversy. While both singers apologized, Jackson was not allowed to attend the 2004 Grammy Awards. Timberlake was allowed to attend the awards show that year and he was able to issue an additional apology at the event.
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed during the Super Bowl halftime show
The Super Bowl halftime show for Super Bowl 38 featured Jackson, Timberlake, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, and Jessica Simpson as performers. During the performance, Jackson performed “All for You” and “Rhythm Nation.”
Timberlake joined Jackson on stage to perform his song “Rock Your Body.” In the song, Timberlake sings “Cause I bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song.”
As he sang the lyric, he grabbed Jackson’s outfit and ripped it, exposing her breast. While the wardrobe malfunction was an accident, it sparked controversy with viewers, media, and TV executives.
Janet Jackson was banned from the Grammy Awards
After the wardrobe malfunction, Jackson issued a public apology.
“The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV was completely unaware of it,” she said in a statement according to MTV. “It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended — including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL.”
Despite her apology, Jackson’s invitation to the Grammy Awards was revoked. Timberlake was still allowed to attend the show, and while accepting the award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, he apologized for the Super Bowl performance.
“I know it’s been a rough week on everybody,” he said during the speech. “What occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable and I apologize if you guys are offended.”
Why Janet Jackson was punished for the Super Bowl performance
In 2018, Huffington Post published a report on why Jackson was punished so heavily for the accidental wardrobe malfunction. According to the report, Les Moonves, the then CEO of CBS, set out to ruin Jackson’s career because of the incident.
Moonves allegedly did not believe the wardrobe malfunction was an accident, and he banned both Jackson and Timberlake from the 2004 Grammy Awards.
“But Timberlake was allowed to perform after he tearfully apologized for the incident,” the Huffington Post reported. “The CBS chief executive, according to sources who spoke to me, was furious that Jackson didn’t make a similarly contrite apology to him.”
As a result of Jackson not taking sole responsibility for the incident, “Moonves ordered Viacom properties VH1 and MTV, and all Viacom-owned radio stations, to stop playing Jackson’s songs and music videos.”
While public opinion about Jackson and Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime performance has shifted, the fallout from the event drastically affected Jackson’s career.