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Janet Jackson’s Famous Superbowl “Wardrobe Malfunction” Revisited

Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction



Where: Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas
When: February 1, 2004
Live Attendance: 71,525
CBS Television Audience: Estimated 130 million viewers in the United States and as many as one billion worldwide
Final Score: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29

For the ten to twelve people that didn’t see the infamous Superbowl XXXVIII halftime fiasco (which also featured Kid Rock — who knows firsthand about such things — wearing an American flag as a shirt, and a streaker bearing all except the body-painted nicety, “SUPER BOWEL”), CNN summed it up:

“Performing together in a routine that had included a number of bump-and-grind moves, Timberlake reached across Jackson, flicking off the molded right cup of the bustier, leaving her breast bare except for a starburst-shaped decoration held in place by a nipple piercing.

“Timberlake issued his own apology. ‘I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance at the Super Bowl,” he said. “It was not intentional and is regrettable.'”

Maybe not intentional but the last line of the song they were performing, Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body,” is “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song.” Coincidence? Hmmmm.

And indeed, people were offended! Some 200,000 Americans complained to CBS, which aired the event.

More Fallout:

  • The NFL refunded AOL, the sponsor of the halftime show, $10 million and banned MTV (producer of the show) from involvement with future halftime shows.
  • It has been reported that, largely because of her Super Bowl “appearance,” “Janet Jackson” became the most looked-for term in 2004 for many search engines and that she still rules the web when it comes to searches for female pop singers.
  • CBS, and most TV and radio networks, now delay their broadcasts (if they didn’t already) to prevent obscene remarks and gestures from making the airwaves.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Viacom, which at the time owned both CBS and MTV, a record $550,000 and Viacom additionally paid out millions to settle other related lawsuits.
 While there has been a seemingly endless spawn of take-offs and spoofs of the famous “wardrobe malfunction,” (Did Bare Naked Ladies do one yet?), legendary British folk-rocker Richard Thompson summed it up most cleverly for us with his acoustic ditty, Dear Janet Jackson.”
You might say it’s the quintessential “titty ditty.” It just couldn’t have a more memorable hook: “If you must shove your titty in somebody’s face, shove it in a baby’s!” (He adds sardonically, “Kids are such a pleasure…just ask your brother!”)

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