It’s shocking to think a whole ten years have passed since Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake‘s ‘Super Bowl ’04’ showing changed the face of the music industry forever.
Even more surprising, though, is the fact that the split-second that came to be known as “nipplegate” would alter the course of Jackson’s otherwise iconic career, while bizarrely (and unfairly) enhancing Timberlake’s.
Indeed, while industry big wigs ensured the ‘Suit & Tie’ crooner star soared to dizzying heights, it was the Queen of Pop who was left to bear the brunt of the backlash, one that carried very real ramifications – both personally and commercially.
Beyond being branded all but a Jezebel by the media, the singer was blamed by many as the sole cause of the $550,000 fine the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) handed to Super Bowl broadcaster CBS – figure that was a record at the time.
The FCC then increased the fine per indecency violation from $27,500 to $325,000 shortly after the event.
Adding salt to the controversial wound, the NFL announced that MTV (who produced the showing) would never be involved in another halftime show again.
However, in a major development ten years later, Michael Powell - who served as the FCC chairman at the time of the performance – admits that both his reaction and that of the masses were completely overblown.
“I think we’ve been removed from this long enough for me to tell you that I had to put my best version of outrage on that I could put on.
Part of it was surreal, right? Look, I think it was dumb to happen, and they knew the rules and were flirting with them, and my job is to enforce the rules, but, you know, really? This is what we’re gonna do?’
Powell also said the treatment of Jackson and Timberlake – who were lambasted for causing ‘an outrageous stunt’ – was unfair.
‘I personally thought that was really unfair,’ he said.
‘It all turned into being about her. In reality, if you slow the thing down, it’s Justin ripping off her breastplate.”
Anyone who’s followed That Grape Juice long enough knows how strongly we feel about the issue.
It was an entire farce; and by “it” we mean the mass media hoopla that ensued afterwards. For us, there exists very real and unhidden evidence that the whole episode was soaked in racism, sexism, and preferentialism.
As such, it’s great to see Janet finally receiving a shred of reparation for the unfair handling of the matter. Yes, it may have come a decade after it should have, yet given the damage it did to her brand, it’s as necessary today as it was back then.
On a lighter note, can we please have a moment of silence for the epicness that was the performance as a whole? Janet slayed and displaced that stage with a brand of bad chickery that many of today’s divas could only dream to posses.
We’ve been salivating for new Ms. Jackson material for what feels like forever. Yet, no time feels more apt than the present for her to comeback and blaze the scene. Despite the best efforts of her detractors, her stock has not been derailed. She remains an icon and one whose potential to dominate is still ripe.
Janet, the stage is set. Come back and blaze it!