“If the culture wars could have a 9/11, it’s February 1, 2004.” These are the first words featured in the newly released trailer for The New York Times Presents: Malfunction: The Undressing of Janet Jackson. Like a bomb going off, a split-second moment — 9/16th of a second to be exact — created an aftermath that lasted a lifetime. The tenth installment of the FX, Hulu, and New York Times collaboration, The New York Times Presents, will cover the controversy surrounding the infamous Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake Super Bowl Performance.
Set to premiere on November 19, the documentary episode is framed around how the moment irrevocably changed Jackson’s high-profile career. Most notably in the trailer, there is a discussion of the inequality of punishment and judgment that Jackson experienced versus Timberlake’s ability to move forward from the incident mostly unscathed, if not even more popular.
Much like The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears, this episode will be turning the original narrative of the iconic pop culture moment on its head by discussing the implications of a white man exposing a Black woman’s breast on national television. While there are contradicting stories about what really happened that day, as Timberlake has gone on record claiming he believed Jackson’s breast would be covered with red lace, one commentator in the trailer hints that “someone” thought the wardrobe malfunction would be a good idea and it backfired.
This highly-anticipated episode of The New York Times Presents will be available on November 19 on Hulu and FX and will feature rare footage and interviews with several people who were at the controls that night in Houston, including N.F.L. and MTV executives. The episode is directed by Jodi Gomes and produced by The New York Times and Left/Right.