Tears were shed, screams were heard and nails were bitten as the clock counted down to the close of 2018 Super Bowl, and that was just in my dorm room. My roommate is a huge football fan, but in all honesty I am not. I watch mainly for the commercials and the halftime show.
If the New England Patriots took a loss last night, then Justin Timberlake most definitely did. Even before he performed his third Super Bowl Performance Timberlake experienced backlash for his continued refusal to take responsibility for his role in the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show fiasco. The 2004 halftime show, for those who don’t know, saw Justin Timberlake accidentally flashing Janet Jackson’s breast to the world during their performance of “Rock Your Body.” This resulted in multiple fines for the all the broadcasting corporations involved, saw Jackson’s songs being banned worldwide from broadcast and had Jackson being forced to apologize and take full responsibility. Timberlake never apologized, a perfect example of misogyny in the music industry and how much the times have changed in 14 years. Fans of Jackson have certainly not forgotten this event, tweeting out #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay on Super Bowl Sunday. After all, if Tom Brady will never be able to hide from Deflategate then Justin Timberlake should not get a free pass on Nipplegate.
However, this was not the end of the pre-performance backlash Timberlake faced.
Rumors of Justin Timberlake including a hologram of Prince with his performance surfaced before Sunday, and the internet erupted with furor. In 1998, Prince reportedly said the prospect of digital duets with dead artists was “the most demonic thing imaginable” and “that’ll never happen to me." Timberlake also had a history of mocking Prince, dissing his height while accepting his 2007 Golden Globe and apparently in his verse of Timbaland’s “Give It To Me”. Timberlake either never intended to utilize a hologram of Prince or he tried to heed the internet’s warnings, but he did project an image of Prince during his performance of “I Would Die 4 U” as purple glowed around his and Minneapolis. Some fans found it touching and heartfelt but others still felt that this was going against Prince’s wishes.
14 years later, it looks like once again, the buzz about Timberlake’s performance will surround not his vocal cords, but rather backlash he brought upon himself.