Totally not 'Justified'

Justin Timberlake shouldn’t perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show without Janet Jackson


After 14 years, Justin Timberlake is making his return to the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

But I don’t think he deserves it yet.

He’s proven himself time and time again musically, except for his recent string of lackluster singles. But as a celebrity and public figure, Timberlake doesn’t deserve to grace the halftime show stage.

Unless he’s standing next to Janet Jackson again.

We all remember the last time he took the stage with Jackson in 2004. Timberlake pulled off her top, exposing Jackson’s nipple to millions. Viewers and media alike ran with the story and Jackson’s career suffered.

But Timberlake wasn’t under fire at all, even though he was equally –– if not more –– responsible for the incident.

Everyone pointed fingers at Jackson.

Jackson released a written apology the next day saying, “It was not my intention that go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended.”

As for Timberlake, the one who provoked the incident, the networks didn’t force him to release a statement. Instead, the singer spoke to Access Hollywood saying, “We love giving you all something to talk about.”

Timberlake didn’t release a formal apology until two years later, saying that he could’ve done more and that society was to blame for Jackson getting the worst publicity over “nipple-gate.”

Well, society was to blame, and Jackson’s career was put on hold because of it. She was a no-show at the Grammys that year, her album sold poorly and Viacom supposedly blacklisted her music from all of its television and radio stations. Jackson even had to say goodbye to movie deals and statues made in her honor. Jackson wasn’t just stripped of her clothing that night; she was stripped of so much opportunity and blacklisted all because of her boob.

JT, on the other hand, was thriving. His post-NSYNC career was just taking off and his 2006 album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds” sold 10 million copies worldwide.

The whole incident didn’t interfere with Timberlake’s future in any way. It helped him.

Here we are, 14 years later, and all eyes are on JT yet again.

On Oct. 22, Timberlake announced he’d be performing at the Super Bowl LII halftime show through a Twitter-released comedy skit featuring Jimmy Fallon.

It’s a nice laugh until you realize that Timberlake just received the biggest “guy pass” of all time.

Jackson was publicly humiliated on national television, forced to apologize and now a man who was just as much a part of it is getting his redemption. Not like him getting out of the situation without blood on his hands was good enough, right?

Musically, I love JT. And I can’t wait for his performance from a fan’s perspective.

I grew up on his music. I’ve followed most of his career and I’m the only 19-year-old dude who will openly admit to being a die-hard NSYNC fan.

As a fan, nothing would make me happier than watching JT sing a string of his hits, but the Super Bowl halftime show isn’t the time or place.

The only way I will feel totally comfortable with the pop star gracing the stage is if he invited Jackson to make an appearance. If they both made “peace,” as Timberlake mentioned in a recent Zane Lowe interview, then it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

But what concerns me is a mindset where viewers see the past incident and aren’t sure whether they can “trust Jackson again” with a platform like the Super Bowl.

The whole situation wasn’t her fault in the first place.

And if viewers are so concerned over it happening again, then why would you feel comfortable with Timberlake performing since he’s just as much to blame for the incident as Jackson?

An NFL spokesperson claimed that Jackson isn’t banned from the Super Bowl and honestly, the only way we’ll know if that’s true is by seeing Janet up there on Feb. 4. Otherwise, their word means nothing.

Timberlake can make things right. The NFL can make things right.

This performance is less about who Justin Timberlake is as a performer and more about who he is as a human being.

Jackson deserves to walk out on that stage, embrace who she is and show the world her talent is more buzzworthy than her chest.

And if she doesn’t, Justin Timberlake can “Cry Me a River.”

Brenton Blanchet is the senior arts editor and can be reached at


Brenton J. Blanchet is the 2019-20 editor-in-chief of The Spectrum. His work has appeared in Billboard, Clash Magazine, DJBooth, PopCrush, The Face and more. Ask him about Mariah Carey.