Janet Jackson has already confirmed that she will not be performing at the Super Bowl alongside former collaborator Justin Timberlake. Some were surprised that Justin was invited back to the event, given the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" he caused at the 2004 Super Bowl. To call out the way people seem to have forgiven him more easily than Janet for "nipplegate," Black Twitter supported her on Super Bowl Sunday with the hashtag #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay.
The hashtag's users are celebrating Janet's many contributions to music throughout her multi-decade career. They've also been putting the Super Bowl and mainstream media on blast for the way they treated the icon following the incident.
Janet will not be performing today but she will be at @essencefest and all the OGs @AprilDRyan @rolandsmartin will be blocking the aisle dancing with her!! I'll bring the icy hot for everyone 😂🔥#JanetJacksonAppreciationDay— Loni Love (@LoniLove) February 4, 2018
#JanetJacksonAppreciationDay trending on Justin’s Super Bowl day is the type of petty black history month magic I Iive for. pic.twitter.com/N1bWPtnCwv— ㅤً (@The__Prototype) February 4, 2018
Today is Super Bowl Sunday and Justin Timberlake is performing, but for those of us with good taste in music, today is #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay! pic.twitter.com/lax3emimht— Teigan Reamsbottom (@teiganish) February 4, 2018
Janet Jackson has long been an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ folks, but my favorite factoid about her is that "Together Again" was written in memory of a friend who died of AIDS.#JanetJacksonAppreciationDay— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) February 4, 2018
PLEASE TAKE NOTE: A woman of color saved @jtimberlake’s ass & softened what would have been massive blowback for him. AGAIN. #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay pic.twitter.com/71pNR0JbF5— April (@ReignOfApril) February 4, 2018
Why does the guy who ripped a woman's top open get to keep his career while she loses hers? If you say, "It was an accident," well apparently it was only an accident for him. #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay https://t.co/K3M8Zlh9Sy— Vicki S Nemeth (@vickisnemeth) February 2, 2018
Crazy how Janet’s career was hurt but Justin’s career took off after their first infamous Super Bowl performance! Don’t worry Janet, we still love you! I’m just saying...no knock on Justin, but it’s funny how that worked out! Still a legend though! #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay pic.twitter.com/QXtvfXx5Zt— Rashan Reeves (@Babyblack1977) February 3, 2018
#JanetJacksonAppreciationDay on Sunday & 32nd Anniversary of The Control Album 💓💓 pic.twitter.com/9ukzDhfXIj— I WILL NOT. (@janetjacksonfam) February 3, 2018
"Nipplegate" sparked endless controversy on many fronts. Some critics felt that Justin inadequately apologized for his part in the catastrophe while leaving the music icon out to dry. On a deeper level, some suspect that the media punished Janet more heavily than Justin because of gender and race. Janet's music videos were reportedly blacklisted from several cable networks, and her Grammys performance was canceled, while Justin won a Grammy that year. As Janet was still reeling from the incident, Justin shrugged off the controversy by telling Access Hollywood, “Hey, man, we love giving you all something to talk about."
Two years later, he did attempt to do some damage control by offering a more thoughtful apology. “I could’ve handled it better,” he told MTV, noting, “I probably got 10 percent of the blame, and that says something about society. I think that America's harsher on women. And I think that America is, you know, unfairly harsh on ethnic people.”
Janet later sat down with Oprah and revealed that she felt unfairly treated. “I think they did put all the emphasis on me, as opposed to us.”
Even in Janet's absence, there is still an opportunity for Justin to pay homage to her in some way. If and how he'll do it remains to be seen.