Embarrassing Celebrity Moment: Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe Malfunction at the Super Bowl

One could argue that the wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl in Houston, Texas, wasn’t an embarrassing celebrity moment for either celebrity, until the world demanded they be embarrassed about it. Technically, it wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction either, as Justin Timberlake purposefully ripped the covering away from Janet Jackson’s breast during the half-time show. The pair was performing a medley of Jackson’s “All for You” and “Rhythm Nation,” plus Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body.” When Timberlake reached the final lyric in the song, “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song,” he pulled off a piece of Jackson’s costume and revealed her right breast, which was partially covered by a nipple shield. It was on screen for less than a second, but resulted in, not only large FCC fines against CBS that to this day are still being appealed in the courts, but also a crackdown on “indecency” on TV.

Jackson received the brunt of the backlash and reviews of her first album after the incident, “Damita Jo,” focused more on the “wardrobe malfunction” than the music, and her videos did not get heavy rotation on MTV and VH1. The album was still a commercial success, though. Timberlake told MTV that he barely received 10% of the blame for the incident, adding, “America’s harsher on women” and “unfairly harsh on ethnic people.” He went on to win two Grammys immediately after the Super Bowl.

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