Nipplegate revisited

Nipplegate_lI was a little surprised last week by how quickly my post in defense of Justin Timberlake’s musical oeuvre turned into a fierce comments-section debate over JT’s precise role in Janet Jackson’s notorious Super Bowl ’04 "wardrobe malfunction." I probably shouldn’t have been, given that EW named Nipplegate the No. 1 celeb scandal of the past quarter-century just last month, but still, I hadn’t quite realized that people still felt so strongly about that subject three years after the fact.

Turns out you’re not the only ones mulling over that particular debacle at the moment. CBS is in court this week re-appealing the $550,000 fine that the Federal Communications Commission slammed them with for broadcasting the notorious split-second slip. I’m rooting for the network all the way. That’s mostly because I’m never comfortable with moralistic Washington bureaucrats regulating pop culture, but the FCC’s arguments this time around are just laughable. "FCC lawyer Eric Miller argued that CBS was indifferent to the risk that ‘a highly sexualized performance’ might cross the line," the Associated Press reports. "Timberlake sang the lyrics, ‘Gonna have you naked by the end of this song,’ and that’s exactly what happened, Miller said." Well, gee, it’s a good thing that Timberlake hadn’t written his 2006 songs "Chop Me Up" or "LoveStoned" yet — just imagine the rampant on-air violence and drug use CBS would have been forced to anticipate with lyrical images like those in the mix!

The network’s lawyers, of course, say they did everything they could to prevent any on-air mishaps. Do you buy that argument? More importantly, have your feelings on Nipplegate changed at all over the past three years? I’m curious whether anyone’s outrage has cooled — or if there’s anyone who’s actually grown more offended by the incident with time. So how about it?

addCredit(“Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake: Elise Amendola/AP”)


Comments (65 total)
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  • Marci

    I didn’t care about it then; I care even less about it now.

  • Lauren

    I really thought that the reaction was over the top – so to speak – and was surprised that none of the other acts received notice (Nelly’s “It’s Hot in Here” was any more appropriate in terms of lyrical content?). I’d say that it’s time to re-evaluate what makes for appropriate halftime entertainment, but vilifying CBS in this fashion is not the ideal way towards resolution. The only item overwhich I have or had any concern, was the fact that Janet Jackson received the full blame for the incident (versus Jackson plus Justin Timberlake). Timberlake should have acted with honor and admitted that hey, he actually was the person who knowingly ripped off a part of her top, and that makes him partially responsible as well.

  • Stephanie T.

    I must say that I am not a Justin fan but the mixing for LoveStoned is awesome and I would have eliminated the interlude, it’s not neccessary.
    I still haven’t the faintest clue why “nipplegate” ever occured. Her nipple was covered in a hideous piercing and I barely saw anything. Besides Americans are far too conservative. A nipple is not a reproductive organ!

  • mike

    My only outrage was at the vigilante FCC. Michael Powell was the head of the FCC and overshot the groups power in a major way.

  • Agree with Lauren

    that the only concern was the double-standard vilification. Other than that, what’s the problem with a little boob?

  • wraith808

    I didn’t, and still don’t see what the uproar was about, other than the FCC response, which was over the top and a waste of tax dollars.

  • dizzle

    Funny thing is, in Europe, when their newscasts discussed this event and re-played the footage, they didn’t even cover up the “offensive” image. That’s how laughable this whole ordeal is across the world. Enough already! Get over it, you friggin puritans. It’s a NIPPLE, we all got one. We can show bullets penetrating heads on CSI, but God forbid a female nipple is seen by a child… who has probably been all through Dad’s porn collection by now anyway.

  • Valerie

    Much ado about nothing it was, and still is.

  • Stephen

    I take great offense that it’s still a topic of debate three years later. Janet came out smelling like roses to me and handled herself well. Let’s let this thing die.

  • Winona

    I remember thinking out loud, partway through the halftime show in question, that it was a little raunchy for something as “family-oriented” as the Super Bowl. And then we got the exclamation point, and a smattering of “Did I just see what I think I saw?” But then again, what do you expect from an MTV-produced halftime show?

  • BrandonK

    Still don’t care, and I’m sure in 15 years this will all seem about as exciting as Madonna rolling around on the stage in a wedding dress back in the ’80s does now.

  • Quentin-Alexandre

    This whole thing was and is still ridiculous. I hope the network gets its money back.
    Nipples are on french tv just about every second, and the kids are just fine.

  • Dio_K

    Aaaaggggghhhhhh! I just want this to go away. Enough!

  • RP (also agree’s with Lauren)

    The only things I have to add to what Lauren has already said are 1) I hate the way media outlets, including “real” news sources, described it as Janet taking off her clothes as though Justin wasn’t even there and 2) if anything was offensive it’s the idea that it’s OK for a guy to just rip a woman’s clothing off because he wants her naked.

  • wagonmaker

    I still can’t fall asleep at night because that horrific image is seared into my brain. I only pray that time will heal me.

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