Adam Levine inadvertently brought back “nipplegate” to Superbowl LIII as his performance with Maroon 5 showed the frontman of the pop group removing more and more clothing as his set came to a close, leading some viewers to take to Twitter to compare the singer’s shirtless physique to a Superbowl scandal from years past.
People Magazine reported that fans took to social media in droves to question why Levine was allowed to perform shirtless during what is perhaps the most-watched television event of the year and Janet Jackson almost lost her career 15 years ago at the same event when during a performance with Justin Timberlake. The superstar singer had what was referred to as a “wardrobe malfunction” but was coined by the press as “nipplegate.”
The 2004 event involving Jackson and Timberlake took place on February 1, 2004, at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, during Superbowl XXXVIII. The incident occurred after Timberlake joined Jackson on stage for a duet of his hit tune “Rock Your Body.” Timberlake pulled off a piece of the top Jackson was wearing, exposing her breast for less than a second before the singer covered her chest and the half time show ended.
The fallout from the incident almost ruined Jackson’s career. She was banned from performing at the Grammy Awards that same year while Timberlake was allowed to perform.
The Hollywood Reporter reissued a statement from Jackson’s publicist in a story about the incident where it was explained that “Justin was supposed to pull away the rubber bustier to reveal a red lace bra. The garment collapsed and her breast was accidentally revealed.”
Jackson subsequently released a statement about the wardrobe malfunction, reported THR, which read, “[t]he decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my half-time show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV was completely unaware of it. It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended – including the audience, MTV, CBS, and the NFL.”
In fact, fans took to Twitter to question why Levine’s striptease was allowed at all, considering all the controversy surrounding Jackson’s exposed body part. Why, they questioned, was it okay for Levine to appear shirtless during the world’s biggest sporting event and for Jackson to commit career suicide for the same thing?
Super Bowl halftime nipple rules feel inconsistent
— Katie Nolan (@katienolan) February 4, 2019
Levine, who tore through Maroon 5’s hits including “This Love,” “Girls Like You,” “She Will Be Loved,” and “Sugar,” performed with Big Boi and Travis Scott in the hyped mini-concert.
— Alicia Barry Whitman (@aliciabwhitman) February 4, 2019
Janet Jackson seeing Adam Levine shirtless and I know she somewhere furious right now
— Tunde B (@callmereefer) February 4, 2019
— Trevor (@TRSDC) February 3, 2019
Years after “nipplegate” took over the public’s consciousness, Justin Timberlake was invited back to headline the halftime show in 2018. At the time, fans called for #justiceforjanet on Twitter, asking Timberlake to have the singer return to perform once again.
Jackson has yet to be invited back to perform at the event since the infamous incident.