Two years after Justin Timberlake upended Janet Jackson’s career by exposing her breast during their 2004 Super Bowl performance, Jackson pledged never to discuss the incident again. This year, she’s changed her tune—first in a broader discussion with Allure, and now head-on while promoting her new Lifetime and A&E documentary series. And while the narrative has reversed in recent years, Jackson has not joined those who’ve criticized Timberlake for arguably making her take the fall. In fact, in her most recent comments, Jackson only had positive things to say about the 40-year-old singer—and she understandably would like for us all to move on.
“Honestly, this whole thing was blown way out of proportion,” Jackson said. “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.” She herself has certainly put the so-called “wardrobe malfunction” in the past. “Justin and I are very good friends, and we will always be very good friends,” she added. “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 also revealed that things played out much differently than the public perceived behind the scenes. “We talked once and [Timberlake] said, ‘I don’t know if I should come out and make a statement,’” Jackson recalled. “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.’” (Though when discussing the incident for what she then said was for the first and last time in 2006, Jackson told Oprah Winfrey that she felt “all the emphasis was put on me as opposed to us,” and he left her hanging “to a certain degree.”)
Many doubted Timberlake’s sincerity when he apologized for the incident crudely known as “Nipplegate”: After all, the mea culpa was a condition upon which CBS allowed him to attend the Grammy Awards. (Jackson, on the other hand, says she was disinvited to the ceremony.) He has yet to join Jackson in revisiting the incident, though he did make brief reference to it around this time last year. And by brief, we mean brief: Timberlake lumped it into one big vague apology about “the problem”—presumably meaning misogynistic behavior—after the release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears prompted a reexamination of his relationship with the pop star.
Jackson also shared that Timberlake invited her to join him at the Super Bowl in 2018. (She declined, not wanting to revive the conversation.)