The Super Bowl Halftime Show Is A Big Deal

One halftime show changed culture.  

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will be the Super Bowl halftime entertainers but this time, unlike 16 years ago, the NFL will make sure there will be no wardrobe malfunction. The Super Bowl impacts society and sometimes leaves a legacy. Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson not only changed the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004 but TV and radio obscenity rules as well. Timberlake grabbed Jackson in a dance routine accidentally forcing her dress to open which revealed one of her breasts. That 9/16’s of a second left an impression.

Conservative politicians derided CBS and CBS’s MTV unit which produced the halftime show. Within 15 hours, politicians gathered on the steps of the Capitol in Washington pointing a finger at Jackson and CBS for promoting immorality.  Then the hammer came down on CBS. The Republican Federal Communications Commission majority got involved and fined Viacom/CBS $550,000 and changed indecency rules. Viacom/CBS fought the fines for seven years and won. But the FCC raised the amount stations and networks could be docked for what can be termed questionable images and dirty words. In 2004, television stations were scared off by the prospects of fines. Sixty-six ABC TV affiliates did not show the movie Saving Private Ryan because of foul language concerns. The TV stations didn’t want to risk a fine. Saving Private Ryan had won five Academy Awards following the film’s 1998 release. It had previously aired on ABC twice in 2001 and 2002. Military veterans’ groups were furious with the stations and Disney/ABC offered to pay the fines of the 66 stations if the FCC decided to dock them. The FCC ignored a foul language complaint about the movie in 2002. The Super Bowl matters. There was nothing that happening prior to the 2004 Super Bowl that should have ushered in a change. But the Timberlake and Jackson halftime performance changed that. 

Justin Timberlake