Fans flocked to social media on Sunday to question why Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine was able to purposely remove his shirt during the 2019 Super Bowl LIII Pepsi Halftime Show, while Janet Jackson was criticized for her infamous wardrobe malfunction during her 2004 Super Bowl set with Justin Timberlake.
During the Super Bowl Halftime show from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Levine, 39, removed his shirt while playing guitar. But people questioned Levine’s revealing performance, recalling how Jackson, 52, was “blackballed” after Timberlake went to remove her corset and accidentally tore off her bra too, exposing her bare breast.
Controversy ensued, Timberlake and Jackson issued apologies, and the Federal Communications Commission charged CBS, the network that broadcast the game that year, with a $550,000 indecency fine for the incident, dubbed “Nipplegate.” CBS is again broadcasting the big game this year.
According to Timberlake, who spoke ahead of his performance at the 2018 Super Bowl, both he and Jackson have made amends since then.
“I stumbled through it, to be quite honest,” Timberlake, now 38, told Beats 1‘s Zane Lowe last year of moving past the drama. “I had my wires crossed and it’s just something that you have to look back on and go like, ‘Okay, well you know, you can’t change what’s happened but you can move forward and learn from it.’”
Jackson, however, has not been invited back to perform at America’s most popular sporting event.
“So Adam Levine can perform shirtless but Janet Jackson can’t?” questioned one user on Twitter. “This is so very wrong haha.”
This sentiment was shared by many others.
Super Bowl halftime nipple rules feel inconsistent— Katie Nolan (@katienolan) February 4, 2019
now I have to explain to my children that adam levine has nipples— ziwe (@ziwe) February 4, 2019
Janet Jackson seeing Adam Levine shirtless and I know she somewhere furious right now— Tunde B (@callmereefer) February 4, 2019
Travis Scott and Big Boi also performed during the halftime show, along with local musicians Equinox Percussion and the Voice of Atlanta gospel choir. Maroon 5 played throwbacks from their early albums, such as “Harder to Breathe” and “This Love,” but it was during their performance of “Moves Like Jagger” that Levine removed his shirt.
This was Maroon 5’s first-ever Super Bowl performance. Last year’s featured Timberlake, while 2017 was Lady Gaga‘s time to shine. Other big names that have taken the stage in recent years include Beyoncé, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz.
“No one thought about it more than I did,” Levine said during an interview with Entertainment Tonight Thursday ahead of the big game. “No one put more thought and love into this than I did.”