How Janet Jackson’s nipple changed the internet forever

February 1, 2004. It’s 8pm in Houston, Texas. Janet Jackson is looking forward to the Super Bowl break in the Reliant Stadium lobbies. The pop star is one of the headliners of this show and ends with a long-awaited duet with Justin Timberlake. Just before he goes on stage, he doesn’t know that his whole life will change, but also that of television, the Internet and, in fact, all of pop as a whole. It is the domino effect.

The Super Bowl is the biggest pop event of the year seen by over 200 million people worldwide. And the half-time concert is the holy grail for artists around the world. Janet Jackson was ready to lead Super Bowl 36 in 2002, 10 years after her iconic brother Michael Jackson. Needless to say, her hit “All For You” had broken all records in 2001. Janet was in the lead.

But the country and the whole world were devastated by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Just a few weeks after this tragic event, the group U2 had offered a symbolic concert in the heart of New York. And he had even invited firefighters to the stage. The symbol was too strong, and Super Bowl organizers resented the symbol. So they decide to replace Janet at the last minute with U2, with the good old Bono. And firefighters.

The long-awaited consecration

Impatiently, Janet waits for her moment, which comes more than two years later. February 1, 2004. This time, it’s over. In the hallways of Houston Stadium, Janet is nervous. A few minutes before the show’s release, he meets Justin Timberlake who is just getting ready. At the end of the concert in the form of a medley of Janet’s greatest hits, the two artists will perform together on “Rock Your Body”, Justin’s hit. Janet smiles at him, Justin winks at her.

They know each other well. Janet chose NSYNC, Justin Timberlake’s former band, to open her tour a few years ago. Somehow, it launched Justin’s career. And Justin is a big fan. He always cited Janet as one of his main influences. When he recorded his first album in 2002, justifiedinvites Janet to a song.

In short, Janet and Justin wink before going on stage because they have a surprise planned. Justin still has a glimpse of what happened at the MTV Awards a few months ago.

In fact, in August 2003, Madonna surprised the whole world with a languid kiss with Christina Aguilera and then Britney Spears during a show that has become legendary. And Britney is Justin’s ex. And Janet would love to do the same as Madonna.

It’s time. Janet goes on stage and launches “All For You.” Everything is going great. A few minutes later, Justin climbs the stairs and his rendition of “Rock Your Body” is perfect. But there, in the last sentence, the last note of the piece, Justin Timberlake tears off part of Janet’s bustier, which hid her right breast. For a second, Janet’s breast is visible in front of 200 million people with a jewel covering her nipple. This single second will completely change world pop.

Too late. The finding may focus on a broad plan of fireworks, 200 million people have seen Janet Jackson’s chest and a good percentage saturate call centers to say how outraged they are.

In short, Puritan America is shocked, wounded, and nothing will be the same. This is the beginning of the so-called Nipplegate scandal. The U.S. Censorship Board is seized and is demanding a $ 550,000 fine from CBS, which aired the Super Bowl. The channel will then systematically set a slight delay in its live events to counteract this type of problem.

Chain reactions in the world of live television

As a result, all other American channels will use the same process, starting with ABC for the Oscars a few days later, setting a five-minute delay to avoid any overflow. Janet Jackson’s chest thus helped set up a deferred technique that will be used around the world for this type of live. And still so far!

And this “Nipplegate” also launches a series of censors. All suggestive songs are banned from sporting events. Just one week after the Super Bowl, the rest of the NSYNC group is canceled from the Pro Bowl, the All Star Game of American football. It is replaced by traditional Hawaiian songs.

A few days later, on the rise, Beyoncé was refused to play “Naughty Girl” in the All Star Game, the real one this time, basketball. She replaces the song with “Crazy in Love”. Less dangerous. And it is also in the series where censorship is installed. On February 5, 2004, NBC removed a scene from its flagship series Emergency room. We saw the breast of an 80-year-old patient in full operation. Nothing really sexy. But panic, hop, let’s cut it!

But it is especially Janet Jackson who will be hugely censored after this “Nipplegate”. Boycotted by a huge CBS-linked radio station, the artist was canceled at the Grammy Awards on February 8, 2004. Damita Jo it comes out a few months later and is a big failure.

The invention of the term “cabinet malfunction”

Janet and Justin can apologize and talk about a “closet malfunction,” which can be translated as “dress failure,” the damage done. In addition, the phrase “closet malfunction” will become popular right now to cover up any issues on stage, but it will also quickly become a parody, a meme ahead of its time.

But this is not all. In addition to changing television and pop forever, “Nipplegate” also transformed the Internet. Between 2004 and 2005, “Janet” and “Jackson” were the most searched terms in all search engines, and it even helped them to grow and become more prominent in everyday life. On Yahoo, the best known of them at the time, one in five searches was for “Nipplegate” and Janet Jackson.

The whole world was looking to see the chest scene again. Because she was banned from watching television, everyone was looking for her on Tivo, the popular digital video recorder of the time. Tivo also had 35,000 new subscribers directly after the scandal. But those who did not have Tivo searched the Internet.

The biggest earthquake on the Internet

This is the case, for example, with Jawed Karim, a PayPal employee. Search for video and can’t find it. He told himself that it would be really deadly to have a video search engine with a mix of social media. With PayPal friends Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, Jawed talks about the idea at a dinner party in San Francisco. And Janet’s chest, too.

Less than a year later, in early 2005, the three friends registered a domain name: YouTube. A year later, Google bought them for $ 1.65 billion. Janet Jackson never came back into the spotlight, but her Super Bowl performance with Justin has been seen millions of times … on YouTube.

So in the end, no Janet Jackson wants to do better than Madonna, no sexy Super Bowl show, no sexy Super Bowl show, no dress flaws, no dress flaws, no breasts, no breasts, no breasts scandals, no scandals, no live. delay, therefore, no censorship, and no unsuccessful search on the Internet, and therefore, in the end, no YouTube. Or maybe in real life we’ll never know.

But in this reality, on February 1, 2004 at 8 pm, everything changed. Janet Jackson’s nipple created a domino effect.

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