By Victoria Vidales | Staff Writer

The NFL is bringing “Sexyback” with Grammy-winning artist Justin Timberlake performing at Super Bowl LII’s halftime show. Thousands of football fans nationwide will watch as Timberlake takes the stage for the third time. However, some people are disappointed with the NFL’s decision because of Timberlake’s involvement in the infamous 2004 “nipplegate” performance with Janet Jackson. The scandal sparked national outrage of double standards based on gender grounds. Although some people continue to blame Timberlake for the incident, the bigger picture may be to focus on America’s view of who to blame for public indecency: a man or a woman.

Before Sunday night football on Oct. 22, it was announced that Timberlake would be the performer for the 52nd Super Bowl halftime show. Timberlake announced the news over Twitter, posting, “I do have the time. Half the time…” This announcement was met with excitement from Timberlake fans. This is a big deal for Timberlake because performing at a Super Bowl almost ensures that the musician will be pushed into the spotlight.

Timberlake is a great performer who captures his audiences with creativity and style. His recent hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from the animated movie “Trolls” was Oscar nominated, bringing him back into the field from a hiatus. His halftime show will draw a crowd of television viewers, and because he has past performers like Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Katy Perry to compete with, his performance will surely be memorable.

While this opportunity gives a new direction for Timberlake, some people have not forgotten his second Super Bowl halftime show, which became surrounded by controversy. It would not be a public event without some backlash, but it is unfortunate because it will undoubtedly overshadow Timberlake’s talented performance, which is what should be focused on.

In 2004, Timberlake performed at the Super Bowl XXXVIII alongside pop singer Janet Jackson. At the conclusion of the performance, Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson’s costume, exposing her right breast on live national television. This display quickly became known as the most famous “wardrobe malfunction” in music history, with thousands of people watching nationwide. Understandably, people were upset at the indecency displayed, blaming the NFL for exposing their families to public nudity. The Super Bowl is a classic American pastime where people of all ages can come together to express their love for football. The majority do not want to watch a vulgar performance, especially with their families present.

As a result, fingers were pointed in every direction, but ultimately Jackson was blamed for the incident. Her reputation plummeted, she was sued, along with CBS, for $550,000 by the Federal Communications Commission. The company, Viacom, banned her music from their productions, and her invitation to host at the 46th annual Grammys was revoked.

Although, Jackson’s performance was not in good taste for a family friendly television program, she did suffer mass consequences for her actions. In contrast, the exposure boosted Timberlake into icon territory, and he won two Grammys that year. His solo album two years later was a smashing success. Both artists participated in an inappropriate performance and should have held equal responsibility for the negative outcome. Although MTV argued that the finale piece was Jackson’s idea, Timberlake did not have to participate in the performance, yet he did. However, I believe the blame should be shifted to the company that produced the performance because they allowed the idea to take action. They were the ones who accepted the planned moment, yet no one seemed willing to hold them accountable.

With Timberlake’s announcement as the next Super Bowl performer, many Jackson fans have publicly expressed their anger with a petition to remove Timberlake and the hashtag #JusticeForJanet to express a desire to have Jackson perform again alongside Timberlake. Though Jackson fans have a right to be angry, their anger may be misdirected at Timberlake. Perhaps the real target should be the stereotypes people have for men and women in the public eye and what is acceptable for each gender role.

It would be nice to believe that everyone views men and women equally, but this fact is simply not true. There are still stereotypes surrounding men and women in the workforce and in the home. Women seemed to be blamed more than men for questionable decisions they make. For example, when Timberlake exposed Jackson he did not receive the same level of public scrutiny despite the fact that he was the one who pulled off the costume. It appears that it is acceptable for a man to be involved in indecency, but it’s not for a woman.

Now is the time for the stereotypes surrounding men and women to come down. Women cannot be continuously held responsible for actions that should be equally distributed to a man. Since the 2004 Super Bowl, the country has come so far in the quest for gender equality that this is not the time to stop the momentum. The Super Bowl LII halftime show can serve as a dual lesson for the American people to absorb: we can be entertained, but still discuss important issues.

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