• Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

8 takeaways from Janet Jackson’s documentary on the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction

ByJanice K. Merrill

Nov 19, 2021

This is the moment that left 150 million viewers in disbelief and brought the term “wardrobe dysfunction” into the lexicon.

A new documentary also argues that the infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime moment between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake also had a disproportionate effect on Jackson’s career after she took the lion’s share of the blame overnight. .

The latest installment in the New York Times documentary series on Hulu and FX, titled “Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson,” will be released Friday night and will examine the controversial halftime performance in which Timberlake tore up a piece of the Jackson’s outfit at the end to reveal his bare chest.

The 69-minute film takes a behind-the-scenes look at how the show was put together and the ensuing flashback that the documentary says fell disproportionately on Jackson.

“We should never forget what they did to Janet,” New York Times cultural writer Jenna Wortham says in the film. “We should never forget this outrage. What was the cost to this woman and was it worth it?”

Timberlake apologized in February to Jackson and Britney Spears, who appeared in another New York Times documentary, for his past sexist and misogynistic behavior.

Here are eight takeaways from looking back at the infamous Super Bowl moment.

Janet Jackson was the least of organizers worries ahead of Super Bowl halftime

With lineup that also included P. Diddy, Nelly, and Kid Rock, the offensive rap lyrics and Kid Rock’s wish to perform draped in an American flag were far more of a concern than anything Jackson had anticipated.

“I think of all the issues we potentially had regarding the talent for this halftime show, Janet Jackson was probably the least concern we had,” said Jim Steeg, NFL Director of Special Events, in the film.

There was enough concern that then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in the movie that he called CBS chief Les Moonves before the game to get assurances on the show. half-time.

The owner of the Houston Texans, who hosted the game, also sent a letter to Tagliabue expressing concerns about the lineup.

“So I spoke to Les from the car as I drove to Kennedy Airport, and he told me he was aware of the issues and that I didn’t have to worry about it, he s ‘would ensure that the presentation of the show at halftime would be first class and there would be no problem, “Tagliabue said.

Timberlake was ironically added to the lineup long after the original artists in order to help allay those concerns and potentially temper any controversy, according to Steeg.

On game day, he arrived in Houston on a plane from Europe just 20 minutes before the halftime show started and needed a police escort to arrive on time, according to the film.

Timberlake once had a cringe-worthy moment with Jackson

The documentary shows footage from the 2001 MTV Icon Award show honoring Jackson in which she is presented by members of boy band ‘N SYNC.

As Chris Kirkpatrick talks about Jackson’s talent and songs, Timberlake continues to step in with comments on his appearance.

“Yeah, like how to be alright,” said Timberlake after Kirkpatrick said they liked Jackson for a lot of reasons.

Kirkpatrick then talks about groove in Jackson’s video for “That’s the Way Love Goes”.

“Yeah, she’s doing great in the video too,” said Timberlake.

The original plan was for Timberlake to tear off a different piece of clothing from Jackson at the end of the performance.

They held a dress rehearsal on the Thursday before Super Bowl Sunday, according to Beth McCarthy-Miller, who ran the show.

The original plan was for Timberlake to rip off another piece of clothing when he got to the line from his song “Rock Your Body” that read “I’m gonna get you naked by the end of this song.” Jackson was going to wear a tear-off skirt that Timberlake would pull off to reveal with a loose jumpsuit underneath.

After the rehearsal, that idea was killed off after CBS and the NFL expressed their displeasure, former MTV executive Salli Frattini, who produced the halftime show, said in the film. Jackson said she was okay with the change, according to Frattini.

Jackson and Timberlake publicists did not comment on the documentary when contacted by the filmmakers.

Jackson was in tears after the moment and “fled” the building

The producer and director had no idea the controversial moment until they received angry phone calls and then spoke with the staff in the field.

“I asked my manager, I said, ‘What’s going on?’,” McCarthy-Miller says in the film. “She said, ‘I don’t know, but I had a blanket for Janet to wrap and she said,’ I put the blanket on her and she was crying. ‘”

Frattini said Jackson flew to Los Angeles before they could even speak to him.

“Janet ran away, we couldn’t get her on the phone or her manager,” says Frattini. “She never told us anything.”

No one knows exactly how it happened yet

The director and producer said they never received a clear answer as to whether it was a hit or not, and who the idea was ultimately to do it. Jackson’s team claimed they were supposed to reveal a red bra, not her breasts.

Frattini said Timberlake apologized that night.

“It was never meant to happen,” she said. “I was told you guys knew. He apologized very much. He mobilized. “

Timberlake also released a statement that night containing the soon to be famed term “wardrobe dysfunction”.

Jackson apologized the next day, then later a video apology at CBS’s request.

CBS asked for an apology onstage from Jackson and Timberlake if they were to appear at that year’s Grammy Awards

Moonves demanded that if either of the two stars were to appear on the Grammys show that year, she should publicly apologize, according to Ron Roecker, former vice president of communications for the Recording Academy.

The Recording Academy invited them both, but only Timberlake appeared at the Grammys. He won a Grammy and then apologized.

“Justin decided to go on the show and Janet decided not to do it,” Roecker said. “Is it because of the apologies, I don’t know. We can suppose. ”

There was reportedly no plot to blacklist Jackson after the incident, but it seriously damaged his career

Jackson’s next album released after the Super Bowl, “Damita Jo,” was his lowest-selling album since 1984, and his songs and videos received little coverage on radio and MTV stations.

A 2017 Story by Billboard says Clear Channel, which had 1,200 radio stations across the country at the time, blacklisted all of Jackson’s songs on its channels.

Clear Channel’s legal director denied this in the film, saying all programming decisions were made locally “so there couldn’t be a system-wide blacklist.”

Jackson ended up quitting his label, Virgin Records, and his acting offers were canceled following the controversy.

Timberlake, meanwhile, had a deal with McDonald’s that remained in place. He was also invited to perform at the Super Bowl halftime in 2018.

“The way Janet Jackson was abandoned by successful white companies was despicable,” Cathy Hughes, founder of the Radio One media company, said in the film.

Moonves asked if Jackson could be forced to pay the fines imposed on CBS by the FCC

Moonves reportedly got so angry that he asked executives at a meeting if they could get Jackson to pay their fines of more than half a million dollars, according to Abrams.

CBS ultimately appealed the fines to the Supreme Court and overturned them.

Moonves then resigned from the company in 2018 after allegations of sexual assault and harassment, which he denied. A representative for Moonves declined to comment on the film.


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