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.
"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.