Janet Jackson Reveals Where She Stands With Justin Timberlake Today
The singer was blacklisted from every major radio station and network for her part in the wardrobe malfunction. Yet her attitude about what went down is still something to learn from.
Janet Jackson is opening up about an infamous incident from her past.
The Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show was a scandal of epic proportions: it didn’t just go on to define the career trajectories of its central headliners, but it essentially transformed the end-to-end setup of live television. As soon as Justin Timberlake pulled off a piece of Janet’s costume, revealing her breast for approximately ⅝ of a second, the viewing experience was never going to be the same. The Super Bowl halftime performance, a grand American tradition representing majestic showmanship and crowd-pleasing extravagance, was thought to be sullied by what was described as a toe-curling act of vulgarity and exhibitionism.
Put simply, it was a disaster and exposed how our society truly values women. The fallout was immeasurable severe, with Janet Jackson receiving most, if not all, of the punishment. It was a precursor to what many today refer to as “cancel culture,” seeing how Janet was turned away from every mainstream platform for her role in the mishap. However, Justin Timberlake emerged from the controversy with his reputation intact, his future as bright and promising as ever.
Nearly eighteen years following the wardrobe malfunction, Janet is shedding light on what truly occurred on a cold Houston night in 2004 and where she stands with Justin.
Janet reveals what she told Justin following their Super Bowl halftime show
In Janet’s recent documentary, the singer discloses what transpired in the immediate aftermath of the wardrobe malfunction. “Honestly, this whole thing was blown way out of proportion,” she said.
The way in which the press and several broadcast authorities descended upon Janet with their pearl-clutching outrage was a travesty in hindsight: she was never the one to blame. And, even if the reveal had been planned in advance, it’s no reason to disparage a woman and drive her out of the entertainment business. By today’s standards, especially amid a breakneck news cycle obsessed with moving onto the next piece before examining the story at hand, it was a ghastly blunder on the public’s part — one Janet will never recover from.
Today, Janet urges the media to stop poring over the Super Bowl affair. “Of course, it was an accident that should not have happened, but everyone is looking for someone to blame, and that’s got to stop,” she said. Moreover, with changing ideas about Justin Timberlake’s culpability and the extent to which he should have sounded off about Janet’s persecution, it’s all too easy to hold him liable for the entire fiasco and run with this narrative. Yet, it isn’t as straightforward. Janet is the one who bore the calamitous consequences of their wardrobe malfunction; as such, her opinion should carry the most weight.
This whole thing has been blown out of proportion. Of course it was an accident that should not have happened but everyone is looking for someone to blame and that’s gotta stop.Janet Jackson via Entertainment Weekly
As per what Janet revealed, Justin had reached out to her in the wake of the Super Bowl debacle and asked if he could release a statement of support. Janet reportedly said no. “I said, ‘Listen, I don’t want any drama for you. They’re aiming all of this at me,’” she said. She had sensed how quickly the masses were rising against her, and she didn’t want a 23-year-old Justin Timberlake to experience the same humiliation. “So I said, ‘If I were you, I wouldn’t say anything,’” she stated in her documentary.
Janet still maintains a solid friendship with Justin, and wants everyone to “move on”
It’s clear a young Justin Timberlake clearly benefited from the blowback: he leveraged his involvement in the snafu to maximize his clout. He kept mum when Janet was facing the full extent of the backlash: getting disinvited from the Grammys, forced to resign from upcoming film projects, getting her music blacklisted from television and radio — it was a strategic and obnoxious dissolution that naturally took a “toll” on Janet’s mental health, as mentioned in the doc. Not that Justin Timberlake was responsible for approving any of these actions, but he did have the platform to speak out about the injustice.
At the same time, the press in recent years has manufactured hostility between Janet and Justin, portraying the former as the wronged, ill-fated victim who endured everything in silence and the latter as the malicious, mustache-twirling villain who had orchestrated the spectacle to advance his career.
In reality, they maintain a solid relationship to this date. There isn’t any enmity, they fully respect each other, and the friendship hasn’t been impacted, contrary to the rumor mill. “Justin and I are very good friends and we will always be very good friends,” she said. In fact, the friendship is still so genuine that Justin has asked Janet as recently as 2018 to return to the Super Bowl stage for yet another performance — which she seriously considered for a moment but eventually backed out of because she didn’t want to dredge up the past.
Justin and I are very good friends and we will always be very good friends. We spoke just a few days ago and he and I have moved on. And it’s time for everyone else to do the same.Janet Jackson via Entertainment Weekly
Her only wish for her supporters and the mainstream media is to simply move on. The Super Bowl halftime incident was an outrageous blemish in our pop culture history, no matter which side of the issue you fall under. The accident shouldn’t have happened, but neither should have any of the repercussions. People really should have taken note of what had happened and fixated their energies on something else; something more pressing. “Justin and I have moved on. And it’s time for everyone else to do the same,” said the 55-year-old.
While Janet’s plea doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should forgive Justin Timberlake — they should formulate their opinion of him as they see fit — it does speak volumes about Janet’s resolve and sense of strength. She didn’t have to be the bigger person; she could have easily held onto a grudge against Justin and let the press do what they do best: eat him alive. Yet, it takes a special kind of heart to encourage others to move on, especially when the tide is in your favor. Justin, for his part, did apologize to Janet on Instagram last year, when he said he didn’t “ speak up for what was right,” which in turn contributed to an environment of “misogyny and racism,” but a lot of people on the internet are still incredulous about his supposed remorse. At least, we can appreciate Janet for asserting her dignity and graciousness even she wasn’t expected to do so.
Be the bigger person
It takes real strength to forgive and forget when every bone in our body is begging for vengeance. Holding resentment is the default; therefore, Janet’s insistence at moving on from the Super Bowl disaster demonstrates her uniqueness as well as her inherent kindness. To be able to rise from the ashes of the train wreck that nearly devastated your livelihood is nothing short of extraordinary, and we need to follow her example in how we can heal and calm the chaos surrounding us. It isn’t always going to be so seamless, but being the bigger person and showing compassion when it isn’t required of you pays dividends at the end of the day.