VIBE Rewind: The 10-Year Anniversary of Janet Jackson’s “Nipplegate”

Movies & TV

Remember that time 143.6 million people caught a glimpse of Janet Jackson’s boob?

Tonight’s Super Bowl XLVIII marks the ten-year anniversary of one of this generation’s most controversial moments in pop culture: Jackson’s halftime performance at 2004’s Super Bowl XXXVIII. Alongside special surprise guest Justin Timberlake, the two’s performance of the then newly-solo frontman of *NSYNC’s “Rock Your Body” ended in the revealing of Jackson’s pasty-covered breast. The scandal, conveniently named “Nipplegate” became the first time that a live performance broke the Internet, making Janet Jackson the most searched of all-time, and the supposed inspiration behind the launch of YouTube.

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Repercussions surfaced for everyone involved. MTV, producers of the show, was banned from ever organizing another Super Bowl performance (they really haven’t again), and CBS was fined $550,000 in FCC violations. Jackson was temporarily blacklisted by the industry (included uninvited to the Grammys), and Justin Timberlake became the villain who barely got a slap on the wrist.

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“I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance at the Super Bowl,” he apologized.

Now, a decade later, the then-FCC chairman Michael Powell admits that the whole situation may have been blown out of proportion (ya think?).

“I personally thought that was really unfair. It all turned into being about her,” he said in a recent interview with ESPN Magazine. “In reality, if you slow the thing down, it’s Justin ripping off her breastplace.”

In any case, history was made. Watch the most talked-about Super Bowl performance (ever) here.