The Strange Myopia Dysfunction: Janet Jackson’s Dress-up

after a week The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears Justin Timberlake debuted on FX and Hulu, back in February, with what was supposed to be a response. He wrote, “I am deeply sorry for the times in my life when my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of the bend, or did not speak what was right.” “I understand that I fell short in these and many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.” Timberlake specifically apologized to Spears, who he had cast negatively on after the teen couple’s breakup in 2002, and Janet Jackson, who exposed her nipple on the infamous show at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime, which faced Jackson alone Because of him the brunt of the blame.
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Well, the Gray Lady heard him. After continuing framing With Take control of Britney Spears—Now that Spears’ memorizing nightmare is finally over — times The documentary series will return with Malfunction: Janet Jackson’s dress-up. Premieres November 19 on FX and Hulu, feature directed by Judy Gomez (The Jackson Family: A Family Dynasty) and showrunner Mary Robertson (who also worked on Spears’ Docs) revisited the so-called “wardrobe malfunction” that sparked months of controversy and left Jackson branded as a shameless model. While the hype is worth checking out, the Damage He delivers some powerful insights, and his detachment, limited access and myopia in exploring the political implications of the incident nicknamed “Nipplegate” prevent him from reaching the same heights that came before it.

Gomez begins with a bold thesis statement. “If culture wars can have the events of 9/11, that’s February 1, 2004.” If that’s a compelling claim, it’s also a bit of a subjective myth on the part of the chief speaker who utters it, Parents Television and Media Council President Tim Winter. The organization that began to stoke the anger of the awards show profanity and ElaineIts plot reached public awareness with a successful campaign to flood the FCC with complaints about the Super Bowl incident. It is useful for censorship reason to insist on the underlying importance of a split second of the exposed nipple. Even as she undoes the demonization of Jackson, Damage Never step outside this surprisingly conservative framework.

Like the Spears Docs, it traces a subject’s career path to childhood. Years before puberty, Jackson’s 10 youngest children would perform on TV with sequins and a feathered boa. “If you’re a Jackson, you know, you were born on stage,” says older brother Tito, one of the few Jacksons to have appeared on the feature. Acting career that started with happy times In the late 1970s, a pair of solo albums were produced in the first half of the 1980s, directed by ruthless patriarch Joe Jackson. viewers framing And Follow-up He’ll recognize Britney’s many similarities – from child stardom and a bloated dad to early sex, body shaming and media scrutiny.

As an adult, Jackson managed to escape her father’s grasp. The result was the most fertile period of her career, starting with the release monitoring in 1986 and extends through the remainder of the millennium. During that time, every single album she released became a multi-platinum classic. Music journalists and cultural critics including Torey, formerly painting Editor Daniel Smith and timesJenna Wortham does a solid job explaining the singer’s contributions to pop music and why she made some people (mostly white and conservative) nervous. A “sexually liberated person,” in the words of Wortham, Jackson was not only sexy or skimpy. In songs like “Nasty” and “What Have You Done For Me”, she celebrated her sexual supremacy.

In a culture that favors the embodiment of women — and which has a long and shameful history of exploiting the sexuality of black women in particular — this made her the target of brazen racist attacks long before her rise to the Super Bowl stage. Timberlake, whose boy band NSYNC got Jackson an early break, didn’t always show her the public respect she deserved. Damage It includes a particularly awkward moment of award show banter in the early 20th century in which he repeatedly responds to a recitation of her accomplishments by questioning how “beautiful” she was.

Add to this context the NFL’s obsession with “protecting the seal”; The additional presence, apparently of rappers such as Nelly and Kid Rock and artist then known as P. Diddy on the same halftime bill; And the heavy hand of the ever since disgraced CBS president, Les Moonves, whose network broadcast the game, and you’ve got a storm waiting for your teapot. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Gomez explained that when approaching the half-time show’s story, “The million-dollar question I’ve had this whole time was, like, what exactly happened?”

True, the details of the wardrobe malfunction have remained noticeably blurry in the public consciousness. How important was what happened on that stage? Was it completely wrong? Or was it a provocation on one or both sides of the performers? What did CBS and the staff know on the first-half show, and when did they know it? Gomez tracks down many of the key people who helped produce the scene, providing comprehensive reports on their experiences leading up to, during, and immediately after. But they can’t answer the central question about Jackson and Timberlake’s intentions, as they were apparently not present at the last minute meeting between the two stars and Jackson’s wardrobe designer, Wayne Scott Lucas. “Only three people know exactly what happened in that room,” Gomez said. Vanity Fair. “At the end of the day, I think three people are going to take that to their graves.”

Damage He suffers from this lack of access – especially Jackson’s decision not to participate in the film. (The singer is said to be working on her own autobiographical document.) Much of what follows the telecast game play is speculation as to why she disappeared from the public eye immediately after the performance and became a scapegoat overnight while Spears’ tutelage made it impossible to interview her about guardianship. mentioned, it’s hard to justify conveying this Super Bowl story without Jackson’s voice.

However, the documentary could have been saved with a tighter, purposeful structure and a broader understanding of the way Nipplegate speaks to the present. Gomez and many of the film’s experts cleverly navigate the issues of race, gender, and sexuality that are, of course, integral to understanding why Jackson has been so aggressively targeted (while Timberlake not only escaped the backlash, but also returned to the headline of the 2018 premiere ).

but Damage Also, oddly enough, it ignores the challenge of the assumption made by Winter and his ilk, that there is something clearly harmful about exposing a sports fan to the blink of your eye and missing out on loads of nipple. It is, after all, just a part of the body – the same thing mothers use to feed their children, sometimes in public, because the hunger of an infant awaits no woman. Could a Super Bowl viewer be harmed in any way by the sight of Janet Jackson’s bare breasts? Many global communities find this premium American brand of wisdom hilarious.

This reluctance to suggest that perhaps the entire scandal should have been forgotten by Monday morning seems egregious when you consider the social and political climate of the intervening years. While Gomez correctly points out that the movement for censorship of sexually explicit entertainment was once bipartisan (see: Tipper Gore Parents Music Resource Center), by the early 2000s, the issue was dominated by the religious right and conservatives in general” family values. Just over a decade later, the same crowd was ignoring Donald Trump’s “puss-free” talk and an alleged marital affair with adult movie star Stormy Daniels, among other stark examples of American moral decline. The turn of the heel revealed the shallowness of the crusade to the right.

Nipplegate was, in large part, about sexism and racism. But we must understand that it was also, in ways very relevant to our present predicament, about hypocrisy, political capital and — to use a term from Jackson’s lexicon — control.

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