Janet Jackson caused a fire storm of controversy in 2004 while she and Justin Timberlake were performing during the Super Bowl half time show. The duo were rocking the crowd as Timberlake sang “Gonna have you naked by the end of this song”. In a seemingly deliberate move, he tore away part of Jackson’s costume, revealing her breast.
Jackson, in what she believed to be a career limiting backlash, apologized for the situation, though she never admitted to planning the stunt. The FCC promptly levied a $550,000 fine against CBS. The network decided to fight the stiff and unprecedented sanction.
Four years later, the matter has finally hit the bench of a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Federal Court of Appeals. The group has ruled that:
“The Federal Communications Commission acted arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing the fine for the fleeting image of nudity. Like any agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second guessing but it cannot change a well-established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure.”
Interestingly, Jackson told Oprah Winfrey, more than two and a half years after the incident, that she regrets apologizing for the accident because it made her look guilty in the eyes of the 100 million people who witnessed the wardrobe malfunction.
In case you missed it or want to refresh your memory, check out the video below.