My mama and aunties always said, “what doesn’t come out in the wash, will come out in the rinse.” Well, it looks like that may be true in the case of the 2004 controversy surrounding Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime show. Though there were two people on that stage, let’s just say one of those people fared worse than the other when it came to blame and shame.
If you recall correctly, the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show featured a notable performance featuring Jackson and Timberlake, in which Timberlake ripped off a piece of Jackson’s costume, revealing her breast. The incident subsequently introduced the term “wardrobe malfunction” to the pop culture lexicon—though Wayne Scot Lukas, the stylist who was in charge of Jackson’ costume for the show, contends the wardrobe maneuvered just as intended.
The moment was not only controversial for the network (who had to pay a hefty Federal Communications Commission fine), but its CEO and chairman at the time, Les Moonves, reportedly tried to sabotage Jackson’s career. To put the grotesque cherry on a misogynoir cake, Timberlake’s career basically went unscathed in the mainstream world (ask Black Twitter, though, and valid side-eyes abound). Anyway, in 2018, Moonves had to forfeit his CBS severance package after several sexual assault and cover-up allegations arose, so there’s that!
Well, according to Us Weekly, the producers behind Framing Britney Spears, Left/Right TV, are planning to make a documentary about the incident. If you watched the much-discussed Britney Spears doc, which chronicled her disturbing conservatorship and served as a stirring critique at the media’s treatment of the young pop star at the time, there is quite a reckoning to be had with this documentary. The very misogynistic narrative against Spears will be amplified in the intersection—given the fact that Jackson’s negative narrative was colored by her being a Black woman.
Following the Spears doc, Timberlake took to social media to apologize for his part in the media attack against both women, as the film certainly raised some eyebrows about him (unless of course, they already were, as was the case for Black Twitter).
“I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed,” he wrote back in February. “Because of my ignorance, I didn’t recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again.”
Jackson and Timberlake aren’t expected to participate in this upcoming documentary from Left/Right TV. However, Jackson is working on her own documentary chronicling her life and career, set to premiere in early 2022 on Lifetime and A&E.
The Root has reached out to Left/Right TV as well as representatives for Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake for comment on this matter.