At the end of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake‘s performance of “Rock Your Body,” the now-solo ‘NSYNCer pulled off a section of Jackson’s dress, accidentally revealing her breast to roughly 140 million viewers.
The slip was paused, rewound and replayed endlessly over the following weeks, becoming fodder for every TV host and the source of outrage for thousands of moms. Even a decade later, the infamous halftime show is cited more than almost any other Super Bowl moment, but Nipplegate goes further than nostalgia.
This seemingly throwaway pop culture event has shaped entertainment guidelines, impacted careers and helped prompt the creation of YouTube. Simply put, Nipplegate changed the world and here’s how:
1. MTV was banned from ever taking part in another Super Bowl Halftime Show.
2. Nipplegate broke the record for most searched event over one day.
3. Janet Jackson became the most searched person and term of 2004.
4. In 2007, Jackson set the Guinness World Record for “most searched in Internet history” and “most searched news item.”
5. CBS was fined a record $550,000 for the incident. The fine was ultimately voided in 2011.
6. The FCC increased the fine per indecency violation from $27,500 to $325,000.
7. Profanity fines were increased across broadcasting.
8. YouTube creator Jawed Karim said the infamous halftime show inspired him to create the video-sharing site, since he had trouble finding the clip online.
9. The snippet broke the record for TiVo’s most watched, recorded and replayed TV moment.
10. The moment also led to 35,000 new subscribers for TiVo.
11. The split-second reveal helped to enforce the power of the GIF.
12. In a Nielson study of television’s most impactful moments, Nipplegate was the only Super Bowl event to make the list, ranking 26th.
13. Jewelry and piercing stores reported an increase in the number of people looking for silver, sunburst-shaped nipple rings.
14. Jackson’s slip created the term “wardrobe malfunction,” which entered the dictionary in 2008.
15. Sales of Timberlake’s album Justified spiked in the week following the halftime show
16. MTV, Clear Channel Communications and Infinity Broadcasting blacklisted Jackson as a result of the show, ignoring songs and music videos from her three following albums on their radio stations and TV channels.
17. Jackson’s three albums following the incident did not have the same success on the charts.
18. Viacom, the owner of MTV, paid out $3.5 million in settlements for indecency complaints related to the halftime show.
19. The FCC received 540,000 complaints about the incident.
20. Other artists with sexually suggestive songs were censored, such as JC Chasez, who was prohibited from performing in the Pro Bowl half-time show.
23. Television networks had their shows, including Howard Stern, play it safe with content for the rest of the year.
24. Victoria Secret canceled its 2004 televised fashion show.
25. A crackdown on the sex scenes in daytime soap operas followed the incident.
26. ABC scrapped a planned uncut airing of Saving Private Ryan for Veterans Day that year due to fears the language would offend viewers.
27. MTV’s 2004 hour-long documentary Making the Super Bowl Halftime Show was never aired.
28. Female performers were absent from Super Bowl halftime shows until the Black Eyed Peas, including singer Fergie, performed in 2011.
29. A Mickey Mouse statue wearing a Rhythm Nation T-shirt mounted at Disney World was taken down.
30. Jackson was forced to resign from a movie project with ABC, where she was to play singer Lena Horne
31. The incident and resulting fallout led to a distancing between Timberlake and Jackson, who had assisted Timberlake with his solo career.
32. Jackson was nixed from attending the 2004 Grammys, which occurred several days after the Super Bowl, even though she was scheduled as a presenter.
33. Timberlake received little punishment in response to Nipplegate and was allowed to perform at the 2004 Grammys.
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