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Janet Jackson's Super Bowl doc looks at the most infamous wardrobe malfunction of all

Christie D’Zurilla, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

The producer from MTV went through the show step by step with a standards-and-practices person from the network. As far as the production team knew, everything was locked down. The “shocking moment” that had been promised was Timberlake’s appearance as a surprise guest.

A small group brainstormed the move that backfired

There was only one night of rehearsal on the field, that Thursday, during which the decision was made to cut a move where Timberlake ripped away Jackson’s skirt to reveal a jumpsuit. What nobody knew was that a small group — most likely Timberlake, Jackson and her choreographer and stylist — got together afterward and worked out a replacement move. And voila, “nipple gate” was born.

Timberlake and Jackson were treated differently

Is this a surprise? Not really, just a fact. What is surprising is watching the post-gaffe treatment of Timberlake and Jackson contrasted as it played out across the media. Timberlake spoke out right away, apologized at the Grammys the next week, told CBS honcho Les Moonves in person that he was sorry, and went on his way. He got to laugh it off, telling reporters things like, “We love giving y’all something to talk about” and “Hey, man, it’s every man’s dream” to get nasty with Jackson.

Meanwhile, a mortified Jackson went incommunicado right after the performance. Her first apology didn’t come until the next day. Headlines like “Janet’s Super boob” didn’t help. She didn’t attend the Grammys the next week and refused to apologize in person to Moonves for what she considered an accident.

At 37, she was called “almost geriatric” by CNN. When she finally appeared on David Letterman’s show, he made fun of her breasts. (He also pressed her relentlessly for details about what had happened, even after she told him clearly, multiple times, that she didn’t want to talk about it. That part wasn’t in the doc.)

 

Jackson made the original apology video

Watching the singer’s plaintive apology video in the documentary, the blueprint she lays is clear: It’s the one followed by Morgan Wallen, Travis Scott and every celebrity in between who’s been caught in a bad situation. She was contrite and let her corporate cohorts off the hook. The only difference is that smartphones wouldn’t debut for another three years, so Jackson’s apology didn’t look 100% like a selfie.

Timberlake, meanwhile, coined the phrase “wardrobe malfunction” in his initial statement right after the football game, never knowing how ubiquitous it would prove in the years to come.

There’s a clear view of the offending moment

Yep, we’re going there. It may be tacky, but anyone who wants to see exactly what people were freaking out about back in the day will get the opportunity during this documentary. Again, it’s only for a moment, but it’s much easier to see in “Malfunction” than it was on Super Bowl Sunday in 2004.

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©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
 

 
Alright, let’s start this out by admitting something. Prior to National Fritters Day we had no idea that Fritters came in any other variety than Apple. A whole new world was opened up to us when we discovered that there were blueberry fritters, and banana fritters, pineapple fritters and even...

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Alright, let’s start this out by admitting something. Prior to National Fritters Day we had no idea that Fritters came in any other variety than Apple. A whole new world was opened up to us when we discovered that there were blueberry fritters, and banana fritters, pineapple fritters and even...