Super Bowl 38 has become one of the most memorable broadcasts in NFL history, and it has nothing to do with the New England Patriots winning a victory over the USA Panthers. Caroline in the fourth quarter.

Instead, that’s what happened during the halftime show, when Justin Timberlake ripped part of Janet Jackson’s dress, exposing her chest, in what was quickly dubbed a ” wardrobe malfunction “.

The 2004 event shocked viewers, sparked an FCC crackdown, and left one of the performers to suffer major fallout in their career. That’s the topic of “Malfunction: Dressing Up Janet Jackson,” and according to documentary director Jodi Gomes, even now it’s “something you can’t ignore.”

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake from their infamous Super Bowl 38 performance. Wire picture

It only took nine sixteenths of a second before cameras cut the incident, seen by 144 million viewers, but the damage to Jackson’s career continued for years.

“I think it just turned into an explosive powder keg,” Gomes explained in an interview Wednesday on TODAY. “And in the middle of it was this woman who had pioneered her image, and she was punished for it.”

The focus on a successful woman in pop music paying an unfairly high price for living her life in the limelight links to another documentary released earlier this year – “The Framing of Britney Spears”. And that makes sense, because “Malfunction” comes from the same New York Times Documentaries production team that created this pivotal piece.

“So much has happened between (yesterday and now) culturally, politically and socially for us as America, that I thought we had to watch this movie from a different perspective,” Gomes said.

“Malfunction” takes viewers back to the days and weeks after the incident, when CBS director Les Moonves demanded an apology from both Timberlake and Jackson. After Timberlake’s public apology, he seemed instantly forgiven. Meanwhile, when the Grammys aired on CBS later that same year, it was only Jackson, who is 15 years older than Timberlake and had a much longer career, who was left out of the celebration altogether. musical.

“She apologized a couple of times,” Gomes noted. “You know, what happened back then was not right. Janet’s career has certainly gone down, while Justin’s career has gone up. And it’s just something you can’t ignore. I think that says a lot about our industry and how we deal with ageism. I think it has a lot to do with sexism, and I think it has a lot to do with racism. “

Timberlake recently issued a new apology – this time to Jackson (as well as to Spears) – after the halftime controversy was re-examined after the Spears documentary, in which he also starred. been highlighted for his role in the life of this singer.

“I understand that I have failed in these moments and in many others and that I have benefited from a system that tolerates misogyny and racism,” he wrote in a February post on Instagram. . “I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson individually because I care and respect these women and I know I have failed.”

Gomes said that when it comes to the two women, only they can tell if Timberlake’s words are “enough”.

“Because at some level a pound of flesh was taken from these two women,” she added.

“Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson” will be available to stream on Hulu and FX starting Friday night.


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