After receiving widespread scrutiny in the aftermath of her 2004 Super Bowl performance, Janet Jackson recalled leaning into her family and faith.
In a new interview with Allure, the five-time Grammy winner opened up about what helped pull her through the backlash that occurred after the halftime show. During the now-infamous performance, co-performer Justin Timberlake grabbed Jackson bustier in a planned move — which resulted in an unplanned, brief exposure of her right breast.
In the aftermath of the incident, Jackson faced an unprecedented amount of criticism, most recently explored in the 2021 New York Times documentary, “Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson,” and the FCC fined CBS $550,000. Not only was Jackson the main target of headlines poking fun at her expense, but her subsequent album release, “Damita Jo,” didn’t perform as well as expected, while Timberlake’s career soared. He was also invited back to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2018.
After being asked how she weathered that particular “storm,” Jackson recalled to the outlet, “What’s really important is going back to having that foundation. Not just family, but God. That’s what really pulled me through,” adding, “It’s tough for me to talk about that time.”
Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson’s Most Unfortunate Memories
And although public interest hasn’t waned more than 17 years after the live televised incident, it’s worth noting that Jackson has only addressed the occurrence a handful of times before her recent feature with Allure. The first time being back in 2004, when Jackson issued a public apology immediately following the incident; and with the second time taking place during a sit-down interview on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2006.
Calling the mishap a “very embarrassing moment,” Jackson told host Oprah Winfrey that she regretted issuing an apology at the time because, “It was an accident. And management I had at the time, they thought it was important that I did it…And I had said to them, ‘Why am I apologizing for an accident?'”
During her 2006 interview, Jackson–who will also reportedly open up about the mishap in her upcoming Lifetime documentary — noted the disparity between the public’s reaction to her and her counterpart, Timberlake, telling Winfrey in part, “All of the emphasis was put on me.”
In February 2021, Timberlake issued a public apology to Jackson.
Now, “whether I want to be part of that conversation or not, I am part of that conversation,” she told Allure. “I think it’s important. Not just for me, but for women. So, I think it’s important that conversation has been had. You know what I mean? And things have changed obviously for the better.”