Nearly 14 years after the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” that derailed Janet Jackson’s career for years, Justin Timberlake is once again going to perform at Super Bowl halftime show — and people are not really happy about it.
The “Can’t Stop the Feeling” singer announced he will be headlining the halftime show at the biggest sports event of the year and reminded everyone how we still live in the world where being a man and having a fair skin tone can basically get you out of anything, no matter how significant or not.
In 2004, Jackson was performing at the Super Bowl and Timberlake was her surprise guest. The two had planned an onstage stunt during a duet of his song “Rock Your Body,” which went terribly wrong when he accidentally ripped off the front part of her costume, exposing her in front of the audience and nearly 90 million viewers watching the show in their homes.
Although the two apologized for the unfortunate stunt, dubbed as “wardrobe malfunction,” the incident got Jackson banned from performing at the Grammy Awards that year. Moreover, her music and videos were pulled from MTV, VH1 and other radio stations.
Meanwhile, Timberlake’s career thrived. Not only did he attend the Grammys that year, he did not receive nearly the same scrutiny and backlash that Jackson did, which was outrageous given that he was the one who had ripped off her dress.
“Justin was supposed to pull away the rubber bustier to reveal a red lace bra,” a representative for Jackson had said at the time. “The garment collapsed and her breast was accidentally revealed.”
Jackson’s career never quite bounced back from the controversy, whereas Timberlake remained unaffected — making him the epitome of male white privilege in Hollywood.
Had Jackson not been a person of color or a woman, the outcome may have been different. However, since racism and sexism are still the norm, she was the one who bore the brunt.
Following the announcement Timberlake sat down with NBC Sports' Mike Tirico, who mockingly inquired if there was going to be another “wardrobe thing” at the event. After an awkward (read: cringe-worthy) pause, the singer replied with, “That’s not going to happen.”
Timberlake is currently drawing lot of ire from social media users. The news of his performance has even sparked the hashtag #JusticeForJanet, with several people demanding Timberlake either apologizes to Jackson during his performance or better yet, invites her on stage.
Justin Timberlake being welcomed back to the Super Bowl with open arms is the definition of white privilege. #JusticeforJanet— Katy Clark (@AllEyesOnKaty) October 23, 2017
if Justin Timberlake can be allowed to come back to the Super Bowl then so should Ms. Jackson #JusticeForJanet— ?? (@kiingweirdo) October 24, 2017
the only way justin timberlake can do this half time show w/ any class is to have janet jackson up there too & let her be the queen she is.— matt nathanson (@mattnathanson) October 23, 2017
Unless Justin Timberlake starts his set by introducing Janet Jackson with an apology and then continues watching quietly while she does 12 minutes of her catalog solo, the Super Bowl can keep this halftime show.— Crystal Methanny (@RafiDAngelo) October 23, 2017
If Janet Jackson can’t ever perform at the Super Bowl again then Justin Timberlake shouldn’t be able to either ???????— A Definite Maybe (@Pic_Nikk) October 23, 2017
Alright if Justin Timberlake gets to come back and get a second chance at the Super Bowl so should Janet Jackson.— Alyssa Fisher (@alyssabfisher) October 23, 2017
Justin Timberlake exposes Janet Jackson: “Boys will be boys. Come on back.”— Out Rae Geous (@_TheOpinion) October 23, 2017
Janet Jackson gets exposed: “Have some respect. BANNED.” pic.twitter.com/SoW87pAEOe
Meanwhile, in an apparent attempt to diffuse some tension, the NFL told Entertainment Weekly in a statement there is no ban on a possible Jackson appearance.
“We are not going to comment on any speculation regarding potential guests,” the league said. “There may be no guests.”
NFL does not have a great track record when it comes to sexism or racism. However, the real question is, would Jackson even want to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show after everything she was put through?
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuter, Mario Anzuoni