You — yes, I am talking to you — are getting old. I might have pointed at my own face in the mirror and said that when Xwitter informed me that Thursday was the 20th anniversary of the infamous Nipplegate halftime show.
I have not thought much about that day since it happened. However, for those of you who weren’t alive, or too young to remember, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake caused quite a ruckus during Super Bowl XXVIII. I watched the game in my parent’s basement as a high school student. While I do not remember my thoughts when Adam Vinatieri kicked a second Super Bowl-winning field goal, I very much remember thinking at the end of the halftime show, “Is that a nipple ring?”
What happened afterward was a masterclass in slut shaming. Timberlake ripped off a portion of Jackson’s costume as a part of the act, but the bustier came off, too. Oh, America was aghast at a breast popping out during a broadcast television sporting event. It wasn’t as easy to laugh off back then because, you know, weed was still illegal recreationally. The country got all puritanical, which, of course, means that the woman was shamed in the middle of town square.
Timberlake was at the Grammy Awards the next week, while Jackson’s invite was rescinded and she was blacklisted in the industry for a time. Her spring 2004 release Damita Jo eventually went platinum, but with limited access to mainstream media for promotion, the album did not sell as well, nor as quickly as expected.
Jackson’s career eventually rebounded and Timberlake apologized for leaving her to take all the arrows for an accident in which he was also a participant. She is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and also received numerous Icon awards. Ms. Jackson is a legend and absolutely one of my all-time favorite artists.
I had literally not seen that halftime show since I watched it on my parent’s standard-def television in 2004. I watched it in HD on Thursday, and it’s like a Universal Studios ride through millennial pop culture. The baggy jerseys, spaghetti straps, black knit baseball cap, stars turned problematic, it was all there.
How the AOL Top Speed halftime show began was the most offensive part to me.
The show wanted the HBCU marching band sound, but Texas Southern had to share the stage with the University of Houston. Cultural appropriation at its finest. I guess it was progress they didn’t do like the 1960s and have a white group record a soulless record and not have the Black group that created it around at all.
Next, Jackson hit the stage and performed about 40 seconds of her 2001 hit “All for You.” She leaves and out comes Diddy wearing a coat with an enormous fur collar along with a Julius Peppers jersey. He briefly performs “Bad Boy for Life” and then a cheerleader-type chant rings out “Ooo Diddy you so fine, you so fine you blow my mind.” The chant is repeated, but Diddy’s name is replaced with Nelly right as the camera cuts to Murphy Lee driving the lead St. Lunatic to the stage in a golf cart with spinning rims.
It was at this point I wanted to ask my parents to ship me my old case of burned CDs, but I digress. Diddy and Nelly performed a verse from one of the five most important songs of the 2000s — “Hot in Herre” — and followed it up with a few seconds of “Mo Money Mo Problems.”
The next act to hit the stage was Kid Rock, wearing an American flag poncho and fedora. He performed a verse each of “Bawitdaba” and “Cowboy.” Jackson got in trouble for an accidental nipple, yet he yelled “for the shots of Jack and caps of Meth,” in a place where children could hear him.
Jackson would go on to finish the show on stage, performing “Rhythm Nation,” after which Timberlake joined her on stage to conclude the show with “Rock Yo’ Body.” Everyone knows what happens from that point, but I will say that the wardrobe malfunction looks quite a bit different in HD, when subconsciously waiting for it, than as a surprise on a Samsung TV from the late 1990s.
Part of my job is to enjoy television and video clips, so I am blessed in that way. However, reliving that halftime show might be my favorite 12 minutes of work of all time. It was a rush of music and faces that played a part in shaping me. Some of those faces I still have a lot of love for, and others I wish to never see again.
It was quite a moment in American history that I am glad to have experienced live, and also happy to have gone 20 years in between viewings. Because seeing Jessica Simpson in a top hat kicking off the show that led into all of what I just described made my day.
So those are my thoughts on the 20th anniversary of the Super Bowl XXVIII, AOL Top Speed Halftime Show after revisiting it two decades later. I encourage everyone to go search for it and get the same enjoyment I did. Also, from here on America, can we please be a little less offended by women’s breasts?
Original source here
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