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Janet Jackson's Superbowl Shocker Impacts Fellow Artists, Future Broadcasts


During their half-time performance at the recent Super Bowl American football championship, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake shocked fans in the arena as well as television viewers. A piece of Janet's costume was torn away by Justin, exposing a bit too much of the R&B diva. VOA's Bernie Bernard explores how this event may have an affect on future radio and television broadcasts.

During their performance of Rock Your Body at the Super Bowl, Justin Timberlake says he and Janet Jackson had planned what they called a "costume reveal." Justin was allegedly going to rip away part of Janet's shirt and reveal another garment underneath. Justin claims that a "faulty costume" caused him to expose part of her naked upper torso to more than 80 million television viewers. The event has launched a full scale investigation, drawing charges of public indecency.

At first, Janet and Justin issued statements that it was an accident, but just before he tore her costume, Justin had been singing the lyrics, "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song." Several days after the Super Bowl, Janet issued a second statement taking full responsibility for the incident, adding that the television executive and the National Football League had no prior knowledge of the stunt.

The CBS television network aired the Super Bowl broadcast, but the performance segment was produced by popular cable music network MTV. Both CBS and MTV executives were at the football game, and immediately issued statements that they had no prior knowledge of Janet and Justin's stage antics. Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, FCC, has instructed the agency to open an investigation that he says will be "thorough and swift." The National Coalition for the Protection of Children has also issued a complaint, saying that children watching the Super Bowl should not have been subjected to Janet's partially-naked body. Even NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called the incident "offensive, inappropriate and embarrassing to us and our fans." The League also announced that it is highly unlikely that MTV will ever be allowed to produce another live entertainment segment for the NFL. Negative reaction to the performance by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake has already affected other artists. Justin's fellow 'N Sync member, J.C. Chasez was scheduled to perform at halftime during the NFL's Pro Bowl all-star football game in Hawaii. The League removed him from the show, claiming that his performance may be "inappropriate." J.C. countered with the statement, "The NFL's shallow effort to portray my music as sexually indecent brings to mind another era when innocent artists were smeared by insecure but powerful people. That's not the America that I love."

Other viewers and critics say that Janet's action was no worse than watching a music video or tolerating the sexual innuendoes of daytime dramas, or soap operas, seen daily on national television networks.

Justin and Janet were both invited to perform at the recent Grammy Awards telecast, with the understanding that they would apologize for their stunt. Justin appeared and made an apology, but Janet didn't attend. Producer Jermaine Dupri, romantically linked with Janet, has resigned his post as president of the Recording Academy's Atlanta chapter in protest. He says, "I don't want to be a part of something that's not treating people in the right light. I feel like what's going on with Janet is unfair." Janet has also received support from fellow performers, such as Alicia Keys, Beyoncé Knowles and Missy Elliott.

After Justin and Janet's mishap at the Super Bowl, television networks have been editing shows that may be considered indecent and have instituted a "delay" system for live broadcasts, where questionable words or actions could be deleted before they reach the viewing public.

Representatives of the NFL, MTV and CBS were been called to testify before Congress and the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC received more than 200,000 complaints about Justin and Janet's Super Bowl performance, and lawmakers are considering laws to strengthen rules concerning indecency on the airwaves and increase fines for indecent broadcasts to $275,000 per occurrence.

Janet Jackson is about to release her new album Damita Jo, which features a topless photo of the singer on the cover. Executives at Janet's record company are waiting to see if her Super Bowl incident will affect sales of the album.

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