Justin Timberlake performing at halftime during Super Bowl LII on Sunday was rebuffed by fans of Janet Jackson who chose to show their admiration for the superstar amid white male privilege and sexism.
#JanetJacksonAppreciationDay trended all day Sunday with tributes to Jackson, eventually reaching the no. 1 spot.
In 2004, Jackson was the headliner for the halftime show and Timberlake was her special guest. During the performance, Timberlake ripped off a piece of her costume, exposing her right breast. He later described it as an unintended “wardrobe malfunction.”
The NFL’s announcement in October that Timberlake would be returning to the Super Bowl triggered a backlash from those who felt Jackson took the heat for the incident, which almost ended her career.
CBS and MTV’s parent company Viacom “hits back at Jackson by essentially blacklisting her, keeping her music videos off their properties MTV, VH1, and radio stations under their umbrella,” Rolling Stone reported of the backlash in 2004.
As a Black woman, some argued that Jackson fell victim to a racist and sexist double standard than Timberlake, as a white man, did. Because Timberlake was invited to perform on Sunday’s show, they said he benefited from “white male privilege.”
Timberlake said in a news conference in Minneapolis on Thursday that Jackson would possibly join him on stage.
“To be honest I had a ton of grand ideas about special guests,” he said. “There’s a whole list. I think Vegas has a lot of odds on it. From ‘NSync to [Jay-Z] to Chris Stapleton to Janet.”
But Jackson put a stop to the rumor prior to Sunday’s performance.
“To put to rest any speculation or rumors as to whether I will be performing at the Super Bowl tomorrow; I will not,” she said in a statement on Saturday. “Thank you for your support and I do look forward to seeing you all very soon.”
Former NFL player turned filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry tweeted the idea for Janet Jackson Appreciation Day to his almost 90,000 Twitter followers on Friday.
“I just saw that there was a lot of speculation on whether or not Justin would invite her to perform,” Cherry told DiversityInc on Sunday. “ I just wanted to do something that regardless of what happened we celebrated her.”
Matthew A. Cherry’s upcoming animated short film, “Hair Love,” tells the story of an African American father learning to style his daughter’s hair.
Celebrities showed their appreciation for Jackson as well.
Chance The Rapper tweeted a photo of a young Jackson with her older brother and superstar, Michael:
Singer Jussie Smollett, who stars in the TV show “Empire,” tweeted that Jackson is the greatest living entertainer:
Missy Elliott posted a selfie of her with the pop star:
Jackson presented Elliott with the Visionary Award at the Essence 9th Annual Black Women in Music award show in New York City on Jan. 25.