The Super Bowl halftime show is a coveted gig because it gives musicians exposure to hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, but this may not have been the kind of exposure Janet Jackson had in mind. For one flashing moment during her performance at Sunday’s game, Janet’s brother was no longer the most scandalous Jackson. During a duet with Justin Timberlake on the latter’s ”Rock Your Body,” he grabbed at her leather bodice and ripped away a patch, exposing her right breast.
CBS quickly cut to a commercial, but the damage was done. CBS, which said it fielded ”several” irate calls from viewers, issued a formal apology, as did sister network MTV, which produced the halftime concert. So did Timberlake, who issued a statement saying: ”I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl. It was not intentional and is regrettable.” Nonetheless, the NFL was not amused. ”We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced halftime show,” Joe Browne, NFL executive vice president, said in a statement. ”They were totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show. It’s unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime.”
If the breakaway bodice moment was accidental, it may not have seemed so to viewers. After all, it occurred as Timberlake sang ”gotta get you naked by the end of this song.” And it was preceded by a Nelly performance marked by crotch-grabbing and stripping cheerleaders (and also a Kid Rock performance in which he wore an American flag as a poncho). In days leading up to the show, Jackson’s choreographer, Gil Duldulao, had promised MTV News there would be ”shocking moments,” and there had been word of a surprise guest. Who knew it would be Jackson’s right breast?