Time really does heal old wounds. In “Part 4” of her self-titled Lifetime documentary series, Janet Jackson opens up about the status of her relationship with Justin Timberlake since their infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, saying that she and Timberlake are now “good friends.”
That may surprise those who remember the wardrobe malfunction in which Timberlake exposed Jackson’s breast for 9/16 of a second. After the show, Jackson’s music was pulled from airwaves and she was uninvited from the Grammys. Meanwhile, Timberlake’s career flourished; he won multiple Grammys mere weeks after Jackson was effectively blacklisted. In the series, though, Jackson maintains that their checkered past is all water under the bridge.
“Honestly, this whole thing was blown way out of proportion,” Jackson says in Janet Jackson. “And of course it was an accident that should not have happened, but everyone is looking for someone to blame. And that’s got to stop.”
“Justin and I are very good friends, and we will always be very good friends,” she continues. “We spoke just a few days ago. He and I have moved on, and it’s time for everyone else to do the same.”
Jackson further takes some of the heat off of Timberlake by revealing that she advised him not to comment about the incident to the press. “We talked once,” Jackson told her brother Randy in the doc. “And he said, ‘I don’t know if I should come out and make a statement.’… And I said, ‘Listen… I don’t want any drama for you. They’re aiming all of this at me.’ So I said, ‘If I were you, I wouldn’t say anything.’” Timberlake did not take her advice. He reportedly apologized to disgraced former CBS president Les Moonves for the incident, and also referenced the incident in one of his Grammy speeches.
Timberlake has since apologized to Jackson. “I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what is right,” he wrote in a 2021 Instagram post. “I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many other benefitted from a system that condones misogyny and racism.” In 2018, Timberlake also invited Jackson to perform with him when he headlined the Super Bowl Halftime show, but she declined to participate.
Janet Jackson is the second documentary to take a look at the events of that Super Bowl, following Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson presented by The New York Times—which casts some doubt as to whether the wardrobe malfunction was premeditated. “The million-dollar question that I had the whole time was, like, What exactly happened?” Malfunction director Jodi Gomes said in an interview with V.F.
Janet Jackson, however, insists that the incident was not pre-planned. In the Lifetime doc, Jackson’s sister Rebbie recalls Jackson crying immediately after her set was finished. Her brother Tito also maintains that the incident was not premeditated. “She didn’t do that. That wasn’t something done on purpose. Janet is not like that.”
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