Closing The Books On Janet's 'Wardrobe Malfunction' : The Visible Man A federal appeals court's dismissal of a $550,000 indecency fine over Janet Jackson's Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" is good news for CBS and for exploitation fans everywhere, John Ridley says.
NPR logo Closing The Books On Janet's 'Wardrobe Malfunction'

Closing The Books On Janet's 'Wardrobe Malfunction'

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, before things went wrong at the Super Bowl, Feb. 1, 2004. Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

So, a Philly appeals court has tossed out the $550,000 indecency fine the FCC hit up CBS with after Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the halftime of the 2004 Super Bowl.


I never thought the affair was indecent as much as it was unfortunate.

Unfortunate as in: "Unfortunately I wasn't actually watching when Ms. Jackson flashed her headlights."

Honestly, I never quite understood the outrage. Mostly because there wasn't any actual outrage as much as there was some manufactured outrage from -- according to CBS -- "form letters generated by well-organized single-interest groups."

Seriously, in the middle of a bunch of homo-erotic male on male violence garnished with barely-clad cheerleaders and accessorized with ads to aid both erectile dysfunction and frequent urination, it's hard to get bent out of shape over a little flesh.

And Janet Jackson flesh no less.


But the way I see it, when a woman -- literally -- takes her sexuality in her hands, men tend to get offended by it. "How dare you exploit yourself! We were gonna do that!"

Personally, I don't care who does the exploiting as long as it gets done.

More importantly, this is a real victory for CBS. Yeah, they broadcast the halftime show, but they can't control what happens and shouldn't be punished when what happens doesn't happen according to script. If one of the ballplayers had gotten his pants ripped off in the middle of a play, is that CBS's fault? It should not have taken years for this matter to be resolved, but then the fine should not have been levied in the first place. The whole mess is one of the remaining fiascoes of the Michael Powell Chairmanship, which will go down, even among conservatives, as the worst in FCC history.

So, cheers CBS and Janet Jackson. Now that this is all behind us, let's do it again sometime.