The Super Bowl is a special time in the hearts of Americans. It's a time when sports fans and non-sports fans come together. It's a night of parties, whether with your family or just a few friends. The halftime show is always an important part of the event. Will it be good enough to keep the viewers watching or will they run off to the kitchen for more dip?
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will be co-headlining the Super Bowl halftime show this year. Even though they're both huge icons in their own right, you might see someone else's name trending on Twitter during Super Bowl Sunday. It's the name of someone Lopez briefly worked for before she made it big. That person, of course, is Janet Jackson.
It was announced in the fall of 2017 that Justin Timberlake would be the halftime entertainment at Super Bowl LII. Many of his fans reacted with glee, while others reacted with disgust. Some were still upset about what happened back in 2004 and didn't feel he deserved a return to the stage. Others felt like he was getting away with something while his former co-star was still paying for it.
This led many Janet Jackson fans to get #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay trending on Twitter that year. Ever since then, every Super Bowl Sunday has been known as #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay in some corners of social media. It's like a boycott, of sorts, directed at the NFL and the Super Bowl itself.
Obviously, everyone knows what happened back in 2004 when Janet Jackson headlined the Super Bowl halftime show. When Justin Timberlake tore off a piece of Jackson's costume, exposing her breast, it ignited a firestorm of backlash. Jackson apologized the next day, explaining that the move was her idea. She also claimed the decision was made after the final rehearsal while MTV, CBS, and the NFL had no knowledge of it.
Both Jackson and Timberlake claimed that a red bra was supposed to remain in place during the reveal. Instead, they claim the bra came off with the piece Justin was meant to tear off.
The only problem with this explanation is that the pictures seem to tell a very different story. If you look at a close-up shot of the piece Timberlake tore off, it looks like the red lace part is attached to the costume itself. It doesn't seem to be a separate piece of lingerie, it looks purposefully made to appear that way. Janet may not have been wearing a bra underneath her costume.
Jackson may have meant to expose her breast. If true, it's hard to understand why she immediately reacted with embarrassment by covering herself up. Perhaps it was a planned publicity stunt. Perhaps Justin was in on it and perhaps he wasn't. These are things that might never be fully explained. Jackson has always maintained the incident was an accident.
What followed was a blacklist that pulled Jackson's videos from rotation on MTV. It was denied by MTV at the time, but Janet had just released a new album and the videos weren't played once. It was recently reported that Les Moonves, Viacom CEO, ordered that Jackson's songs and videos be pulled from all of its properties, including CBS, MTV, and Infinity Broadcasting, a radio station group.
Another major moment was the 2004 Grammy Awards. Jackson was scheduled to present an award. Timberlake was nominated and invited to the show as well. Janet's invitation was withheld while Justin was able to attend. Many who see this example as unfair don't know the whole story.
Both Jackson and Timberlake were told they could only attend the show as long as they apologized on stage. Justin agreed to apologize while Janet refused, having already done so. It's important to note that Timberlake also previously issued an apology. They were both held to the same standard and Timberlake got past it, because he knew how to play the game.
Many feel that Jackson's career suffered without recovery while Justin's went along just fine. A lot of people don't seem to take into consideration that Jackson and Timberlake were at completely different places in their careers. Justin was just starting to emerge as a solo artist, having been promoting his debut album. Janet, on the other hand, already established herself as an icon and influential figure for younger artists.
Some even believe this is the result of racism and sexism due to the fact that Jackson is a Black woman and Timberlake is a white man. I'm not in a position to know if that was the case. However, it was Janet's halftime show. She was the headliner and she took responsibility by claiming it was her idea.
Again, I don't know if racism was a motive behind Les Moonves' reported actions. However, I have a hard time believing that a group of white male corporate heads can destroy a Black female pop star. If that were true, there would be no Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, or Beyoncé.
Don't get me wrong, I think it was unfair for Jackson to be blacklisted. What she did (accident or not) wasn't enough to justify a blacklist of that level. Some say the halftime show wasn't something children should've been exposed to. I feel there are worse things that a child could be exposed to than a nipple for a brief second on prime time television.
However, I don't think the blacklist is the reason Jackson's career never recovered. In 2008, Jackson was allowed back on MTV and the blacklist was seemingly over. "Discipline" was her new album and it was heavily promoted during its release. Jackson had a real chance at a comeback, but the album quickly fell off the radar. The initial success of the single "Feedback" was all the album had going for it.
I believe a larger reason Jackson's career never recovered is because she wasn't releasing albums with strong enough material. I personally enjoyed "Damita Jo," released just one month after the Super Bowl. However, it wasn't a commercial album by any means.
The two albums that followed, "20 Y.O." and "Discipline," were just plain bad. It didn't help that Janet recruited then-boyfriend Jermaine Dupri to co-produce. Their collaboration proved that two people might have personal chemistry, but that doesn't mean they have professional chemistry.
The end of the blacklist could have given "Discipline" a chance at being a hit. MTV even devoted an entire episode of TRL to Janet, interviewing her and letting her perform the single, "Feedback." However, even the most devoted Janet fan couldn't deny these albums were nowhere near as strong as "Rhythm Nation" or "The Velvet Rope."
People who hate Justin Timberlake for the backlash Janet Jackson received are ignoring a lot. Bette Midler even claimed Justin should apologize to Janet, but how does she know he didn't do so privately? This kind of mentality seems to be more common now and Timberlake isn't the only target. Just look at the outrage that ensued after Ed Sheeran won a Grammy award over Lady Gaga, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, and Kesha. In 2006, Justin expressed remorse over how Janet received the majority of the blame. Janet also said Justin reached out to speak with her following the Super Bowl.
I think those sending hate Justin Timberlake's way need to check themselves. He's got a lot of hits and a lot of talent. I think he was very deserving to play the halftime show in 2018 and I thought he did a great job.
Believe it or not, I'm a huge Janet Jackson fan. I've been a fan of her music ever since I first heard "That's The Way Love Goes" when I was three years old. However, I don't like the way many fans try to raise their idols up by making them into victims. That seems to be the main motive behind #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay and it doesn't sit right with me. Janet Jackson is not a victim and she should be appreciated more than just one day a year.