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How The New York Times Presents Explored Janet Jackson’s Infamous Super Bowl Moment — And the Apologies Surrounding It

The producers of Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson take us behind-the-scenes in this exclusive interview

Janet Jackson Super Bowl
Janet Jackson, photo via NFL
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    Now that Britney’s free, what’s next? For The New York Times Presents, the answer is Janet Jackson.

    Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson, the newest installment of the FX and Hulu documentary series, seeks to bare the truth of those infamous 9/16ths of a second, a moment that had both global and deeply personal repercussions for everyone involved.

    According to showrunner Mary Robertson, the inspiration to look back at the events surrounding Janet Jackson’s 2004 Super Bowl performance came directly as a result of the feedback from Framing Britney Spears. “We essentially saw some folks saying, ‘How about Janet?’, and we thought that that was a good idea,” she tells Consequence.

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    The 70-minute documentary, directed by Jodi Gomes, doesn’t just dig into the events that resulted in Jackson’s breast being exposed in the final moments of the halftime show. Instead, it paints a portrait both of Jackson’s remarkable career prior to that moment, as well as the cultural forces which made one “wardrobe malfunction” into a lighting bolt of controversy.

    In this interview, which has been transcribed and edited for clarity, Robertson and Gomes explain how they approached the material and the importance of capturing not just what caused the malfunction, but the controversy surrounding it. They also discussed Justin Timberlake‘s involvement in these events, as well as the bigger issue: who was asked to apologize for what, and when.


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