Court Finally Rules That All The Legal Hubbub Over Janet Jackson’s Nipple Was A Bit Much

Janet Jackson

By Zachary Swickey

It’s hard to believe that seven years later we’re still talking about “Nipplegate” – Janet Jackson’s controversial wardrobe malfunction from the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show – but a federal appeals court just ruled that the Federal Communications Commission might have been a bit hasty with their fine for Janet Jackson and CBS over the incident.

The Wrap reports that according to the Philadelphia 3rd District Court of Appeals, the FCC wrongly fined Jackson and the network $550,000 for her performance, which included Timberlake ripping off a scrap of her clothing and accidentally exposing the singers left breast (although if I recall, she covered it up with a tasteful sun-shaped jewel resembling Godsmack’s logo). Of course the government agency wasn’t thrilled with the outcome, but CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs viewed the ruling as the FCC being forced to adhere to the indecency policies they had in place before the incident occurred. As you can see from this handy dandy wiki chart (of course the incident has its own Wikipedia page), the fine-to-complaints ratio was rather askew.

The case has been in legal limbo for years now. In 2008, the 3rd Circuit Court ruled to void the fine, a ruling vacated by the Supreme Court in 2009. The case subsequently returned to the 3rd Circuit once again.

Some don’t realize just how much Jackson’s nipple rocked the media world. Following the incident, the FCC cracked down on daytime soaps that are known for their steamy sexual nature. Time delays (sometimes as long as ten minutes) became a new staple – practically eliminating any chance for another wardrobe malfunction to occur.

Halftime performers since the incident have been of the legendary but less sexy variety: The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and Paul McCartney – none of whom seem likely to expose anything. The Black Eyed Peas, Slash and Usher performed last year, but reviews of the admittedly unique show were rather harsh. However, rumor has it that Madonna (while also an older legend) will spice things up again at next year’s Super Bowl with a performance of her new single, “Give Me All Your Love,” which features Nicki Minaj and the controversial M.I.A.

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