Thirteen years ago, the famous “wardrobe malfunction” happened.
At the end of the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, Justin Timberlake “accidentally” exposed Janet Jackson’s barely-covered breast during a racy routine. Outrage ensued.
Now Timberlake is returning for halftime festivities, and a lot of people aren’t happy about it.
Aside from the people who simply aren’t fans of the former boy-band’s music, a large segment blames Timberlake for the decline of Janet Jackson’s career.
Why? Because he didn’t use his “white privilege” to provide cover for her.
From The Root:
I’ve known, since first seeing him in NSYNC when I was in college, that Justin Timberlake was a white man. Despite his soul-ish music and obvious talents, he fit all of the physical and cultural markings of whiteness.
But just exactly how white he was/is—and what his whiteness meant—became apparent in the aftermath of nipple-gate, as Timberlake acted whitely by throwing Janet Jackson under the bus after briefly exposing Jackson’s nipple on camera in a “wardrobe malfunction” (initially claiming he had no idea that what was going to happen happened), and America regarded Timberlake and Jackson whitely.
She was virtually blackballed, while his career soared as he became arguably the biggest name in pop music.
To be fair, Timberlake’s star was already on the rise. He would have ascended without using the distance he created between himself and Jackson as a springboard. But where whiteness matters is that it didn’t matter. His role in what happened had no effect on his career. It wasn’t even a speed bump. It was a flashing yellow light.
And on Sunday, as a reminder of the value of whiteness and maleness as a currency, it was announced that he’d headline the Super Bowl halftime show—14 years after playing the innocent dude bro in distress.
This—being invited back to perform with open arms on the world’s biggest stage after being a vital part of one of the biggest Federal Communications Commission controversies ever—is something that could only happen with a person who happened to be white and happened to be a man.
And that it would happen the same year the NFL and the country are ensconced in maddeningly divisive discussions about racial injustice (and the best ways to draw attention to it) feels white as f***, too.
First, the assertion that Jackson, one of the biggest pop stars in history, was blackballed is outlandish. She released four albums after the incident, two of which went platinum.
Second, the music industry is known for being risqué. Jackson had hits such as “Nasty” since the mid-80s. And although “Nipple-gate” did cause quite a stir, the idea that it did irreparable harm is also outlandish.
Finally, it seems absurd and counterproductive to the leftist narrative that Jackson, a black woman who’s one of the biggest pop icons ever, needed a “white savior” to rescue her from the controversy.
Jackson can handle her own affairs, and she certainly hasn’t been blackballed professionally or socially.
Blaming Timberlake for her “plight” is just beyond ridiculous.