The big news of the night involved a memorable halftime performance featuring Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. The pair performed “Rock Your Body,” and after Timberlake sang the final line, “Better have you naked by the end of this song,” he ripped off part of Jackson’s costume, exposing her right breast and starburst nipple covering to millions.
The Federal Communications Commission said at the time it received 540,000 complaints about Jackson’s exposed breast, and it later levied a $550,000 fine against CBS, the largest in history. The fine was later struck down by the Supreme Court.
The moment only lasted nine-sixteenths of a second, but things were never quite the same. Check out seven things that have changed, thanks to “Nipplegate.”
1. Different kind of halftime show: After the incident, then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue released a statement saying: “The show was offensive, inappropriate and embarrassing to us and our fans. We will change our policy, our people and our processes for managing the halftime entertainment in the future in order to deal far more effectively with the quality of this aspect of the Super Bowl.” The following year, Paul McCartney did the halftime show, leading many to wonder whether he was a safe choice, given the controversy.
2. Wardrobe malfunction: When it first happened, Jackson’s spokesperson Stephen Huvane told CNN that the controversy involved a “malfunction of the wardrobe.” Justin Timberlake later said, “I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance at the Super Bowl.” The word was later added to the Chambers Dictionary in 2008, and people still use the term “wardrobe malfunction” when we see stars like Eva Longoria and Jennifer Lawrence having to make quick adjustments to their clothes on the red carpet.
3. Five-second delay: Thanks to the halftime performance, networks had an itchy finger when it came to their broadcasts. ABC added a five-second delay to the Academy Awards that year, and CBS put a delay on the 47th annual Grammy Awards. But it wasn’t until two years later, when ABC decided to implement a five-second tape delay for the Super Bowl. In 2006, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones performed at halftime of Super Bowl XL. Only two lyrics were muted from their entire performance. And more importantly, we didn’t see any of Jagger’s “man-parts.”
4. Justin’s career skyrockets: A week later at the Grammys, Timberlake apologized for his role in Nipplegate, saying “What occurred was unintentional and completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended.” That night, Timberlake won two awards (Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance) and performed twice during the show. Today, Timberlake continues to churn out music, including 2013’s No. 1 album, “The 20/20 Experience.” Plus, Timberlake showed he can act on the big screen with roles in films such as “The Social Network,” and “Friends With Benefits” and the small screen with a number of hilarious “SNL” appearances.
5. Janet’s career plummets: A story on MTV.com posted the Wednesday before the 2004 Super Bowl had the headline, “Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl show promises “shocking moments.” While there are still questions about “who knew what” during the halftime show, Jackson had to make a public apology for her role in the scandal, saying “My decision to change the Super Bowl performance was made after the final rehearsal. MTV, CBS [and] the NFL had no knowledge of this whatsoever and unfortunately, the whole thing went wrong in the end. I am really sorry if I offended anyone. That was truly not my intention.” After the incident, Jackson became the most-searched term on the Internet. However, that popularity didn’t translate to her music. Her album, “Damita Joe,” released on March 22, 2004, was one of her lowest-selling albums. And, Jackson’s musical career was never the same.
6. The rise of TiVo: Did we just see what we thought we saw? Thousands of TiVo users used their digital video recorders to pause, rewind, play to make sure what they thought happened did indeed happen. According to TiVo at the time, it became the most-rewatched moment ever. TiVo enrolled an estimated 35,000 new customers after Nipplegate. Now, DVRs are commonplace in many households.
7. Are you a YouTube fan? You can thank Nipplegate: Who knew a breast-flashing incident would play such a major role in the creation of one of the world’s top video-sharing sites. There was no Twitter or Facebook (although Facebook launched three days later). No one was fast enough to whip out their smartphone and take a quick picture of what they saw. However, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, in a 2006 talk to students at the University of Illinois, said the fateful halftime show “only happened once and never again.” He went on to say “For anyone who wanted to see it after that, well, they had to find it online.” He said that moment, along with a 2004 showdown between Jon Stewart and Tucker Carlson on CNN’s Crossfire, was the inspiration to create YouTube a year later, with co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen.
By Kamal Wallace