The reason so many social media users are talking about and recognizing Jackson is pretty straightforward. In 2004, Jackson performed during the Super Bowl halftime show alongside Justin Timberlake, in what ended up being one of the most memorable snafus in the history of broadcast television. During the performance, Timberlake exposed Jackson’s breast to millions upon millions of viewers, in what came to be known as the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” moment.
Jackson’s music was basically blacklisted from Viacom entities like MTV and VH1 after the incident, even though it was Timberlake who pulled off a piece of her costume and briefly flashed her breast to the crowd and the viewing audience. His music, however, was not similarly taboo or forbidden by Viacom, which is one of many reasons Jackson’s fans and supporters are angry over her treatment to this day.
— Justin Simien (@JSim07) February 4, 2018
Living for #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay. we love you Miss Jackson. It's all for you. When we think of you nothing else seems to matter. Get us all together again in this Rhythm Nation. https://t.co/jJkXqSch3c
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) February 4, 2018
— Linda Clark (@lyn_duhh) February 4, 2018
— So Nasty and So Rude (@Freexone_) February 4, 2018
In 1997 Janet released an anthem to a friend she lost to HIV/AIDS called Together Again. It’s a beautiful and empowering song, and the video she released with it is stunning. #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay pic.twitter.com/erZxhrPjZO
— Calvin (@calvinstowell) February 4, 2018
Janet Jackson ain’t checking for no damn Super Bowl pic.twitter.com/O26iNeqVZs
— Ira Madison III (@ira) February 4, 2018
EXEC: Justin, you can go 2 directions here. Either you use the Super Bowl to reconnect w/ Black people & invite Janet Jackson back OR we come up w/ such an epically bad idea that you drive them away forever.
JT: 2 words, Prince hologram.
EXEC (sigh): I'll call the Tupac guys.
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) February 4, 2018
— Legendary Haus of Choi (@topismyhomeboy) February 4, 2018
— Kingsley (@kingsleyyy) February 4, 2018
That’s the essential background to understand why so many people on Twitter are making today about Jackson, even though most of the celebratory tweets have nothing to do with the Super Bowl or with Timberlake. It’s a reminder of just how easily he seemed to brush off the entire situation vs. how heavy a price she paid.
It’s a way to highlight and condemn the sexism and double standards that unfolded following her 2004 performance, and it’s freshly relevant because Timberlake is actually getting to perform during the halftime show again this year. Apparently, he won’t be performing alongside a hologram of Prince, which means he’ll be avoiding at least one new halftime show-related controversy.