Since everyone has seen that 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show image enough times to have seared itself into human memory forever, I thought I’d remind you what the rest of Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl Halftime Show performance looked like, and wow did I ever forget that the opening number was A Clockwork Dance Crew themed. The reason I probably forgot was because that whole Halftime Show was eclipsed by the surprise removal of Janet’s snap-on nipple cover by one grabby former ramen-haired boy bander, Justin Timberlake. Since that grab, and the subsequent exposed nipple, we’ve seen Justin’s career skyrocket while Janet appeared to experience a much quieter time, career-wise. And in later years, a whole lot of people have come to realize that Janet was done absolutely filthy. And so, much like they have previously done to help expose the truth about Britney Spears, The New York Times has decided to vindicate Miss Jackson’s professional reputation with a documentary all about the media’s role after that Halftime Show.
The New York Times Presents began with Framing Britney Spears, and was all about Britney’s relationship with the media in and around her 2008 mental health situation and subsequent conservatorship. The next documentary under the New York Times Presents banner will be Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson. It airs on FX and Hulu on November 19th. Where Framing Britney Spears was able to examine the events surrounding Britney against the backdrop of general mid-2000s sexism, it sounds like the vibe of Malfunction will be mid-2000s sexism and racism. Deadline:
The film will tell the story of the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, which saw Justin Timberlake briefly expose Jackson’s breast to millions of viewers. Jackson’s career never recovered but Timberlake went from strength-to-strength. The doc will examine the racial and cultural currents that collided on the Super Bowl stage, and explores how the incident impacted one of the most successful pop musicians in history.
It will feature rare footage and interviews with several people who were at the controls that night in Houston, including NFL and MTV executives, to reconstruct an incident that shook the country and explain how it shaped culture in the decades to follow. With new reporting by The Times, as well as insights from music industry insiders, cultural critics and members of the Jackson family, the film illuminates the fallout, and CBS boss Les Moonves’s role in it.
In the years that followed Janet’s Super Bowl performance, many people wondered why Janet seemed to get the finger-pointing punishment from that surprise titty, while Justin Timberlake seemed to skate away from the drama and become a celebrated artist. Three years ago, in the wake of Ronan Farrow’s exposé that exposed Les Moonves as another gross old dude misusing his power and allegedly sexually harassing his staff, it was alleged that Les was so furious about the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show, that he swore to kill Janet’s career. CBS and MTV (who put on the Halftime Show) were both fined $550,000 by the FCC for the visual nipple. Les was head of CBS at the time, and he reportedly refused to believe it was an accident, and also allegedly refused to believe that Janet was sorry for what happened (he allegedly bought Justin’s lil’ teary apology, how convenient).
And most recently, a stylist came forward to claim that Justin was the one who was pushing hard for the wardrobe malfunction because he was Hell-bent on upstaging Britney Spears, who got a mountain of attention for kissing Madonna at the MTV VMAs only six months earlier.
So something tells me that Les Moonves will probably be the villain of this documentary, and Justin Timberlake will be one of the villains in a minor role. Oh, so kind of like his role in the Britney Spears documentary? Hmmm, I wonder if he’ll release a new statement after Malfunction airs, apologizing for letting Janet take the fall, or if he’ll just recycle his apology-style statement that he released after Framing Britney Spears aired. You know what, he should just play it safe and reuse the first vaguely-sincere sounding one. He doesn’t have much luck when he tries to branch out.