On Feb. 1, 2004 Houston had a big problem after Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake ended their set with what would be known the world over as “Nipplegate”. Two of the better dancers in the industry, Jackson and Timberlake were putting on a racy, but stellar show for the halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII when Justin’s hit “Rock Your Body” blared through the stadium. It was the conclusion of the song where the former N’Sync front man announces “bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song” before ripping away part of Jackson’s costume.
Talk about a reveal. If you didn’t blink you caught a look at Jackson’s bare right breast with only a silver star covering her unmentionable. CBS could not cut away fast enough. Men, women and adolescent boys everywhere did a double take. Once the cameras returned to the duo, frozen in their pose, Janet had her hand covering herself.
The controversial ending overshadowed what was a great game between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was bombarded with calls from outraged viewers. Justin, who didn’t look too apologetic days after the show, even joking about the finale, appeared at the Grammys days later very remorseful. Fairly or not, Justin remained in the spotlight while Janet was lambasted in the media. After issuing a public apology she laid low during the firestorm.
Two years later Janet Jackson told her side of the incident to Oprah Winfrey, saying that it was not planned and that it was a really “embarrassing moment.”
The incident brought the words “wardrobe malfunction” into the American lexicon and for the next seven years only “safe” (read: boring) acts performed at halftime. Mistake or not Janet’s nip slip will forever be a part of pop culture history.