Inside Minneapolis’s U.S. Bank Stadium this Sunday, Timberlake made it a point not to give audiences anything to talk about this time around at his Super Bowl halftime performance. But that couldn’t stop the social media from reeling from his 2004 performance alongside Janet Jackson when he “accidentally” ripped off a significant piece of her clothing in front of 90 million unsuspecting TV viewers.
Rumours stretched across America that Janet Jackson might join him on stage again, but on Saturday, Jackson silenced this theory in an Instagram post.
“To put to rest any speculation or rumours as to whether I will be performing at the Super Bowl tomorrow; I will not,” she wrote sparking the hashtag #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay from her supporters.
After the “Nipplegate” incident in 2004, FCC received more than 500,000 complaints. Refunds were issued to compensate for two seconds of partially exposed breast. In a wave of puritanical hysteria, CBS had Jackson release a written statement apologizing, taking full blame for the "accident". Jackson was banned from attending The Grammy’s the following week where Timberlake, on the other hand, attended and performed. Jackson’s singles and music videos were banned from many platforms including MTV and CBS.
Letterman, in an interview with Jackson, shortly following the 2004 Super Bowl performance, brought up the issue that JT’s actions were sending the wrong message to young boys.
“I’ll tell you what I think of it… I thought that sends a very bad message to young boys. You go up to a woman, even under the guise of a show business production and you pull her thing off. You’re not supposed to behave that way.”
It’s hard to fathom how Timberlake could think it’d be appropriate to sing “Rock Your Body” again at the same platform where the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” took place. When he finally arrived at the top-ripping cue, he shouted “Hold up, stop!” and moved on to “Sexy Back.”
With its eerily matching lyrics “Bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song,” revisiting this track at the Super Bowl felt less like an apology to Jackson and more like another deflection from sharing equal blame of a stunt-gone-wrong.
"I probably got 10% of the blame, and that says something about society. I think that America's harsher on women. And I think that America is, you know, unfairly harsh on ethnic people,” he said in a 2006 interview.
Even without taking into account the 2004 incident, JT’s Super Bowl performance was a letdown. Everyone’s clothes looked dreadfully mismatched, which made it hard to focus on Timberlake. His voice was hardly audible. The only “Wow” moment in the 14 minute performance was when Minneapolis lit up in purple lights during Timberlake’s “duet” with Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.”
The performance ended with “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” when Timberlake made his way into the stands and wheedled a child into taking a selfie with him, screaming “Super Bowl selfies!” Because after his savagely reviewed new album “Man of the Woods,” without these selfies, JT’s lacklustre Super Bowl comeback would soon drown in the abyss of memories.