Fresh off the heels of the wildly successful and eye-opening documentary Framing Britney Spears, the Hulu on FX series The New York Times Presents… has followed up with yet another pop culture-centric installment — this time, one which explores the events of the 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” that played out between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, 15 years on.
The moment occurred when Timberlake famously tore fabric off of Jackson’s outfit mid-performance — exposing her breast and igniting a wave of responses from viewers, event sponsors and more, in the process.
In the latest hour-long installment,The New York Times Presents: Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson, the series attempts to investigate some unanswered questions while looking at the controversial moment within today’s context — analyzing not only the contrasting reactions to both performers in the wake of the incident, but also considering the ways in which racism and sexism may have subsequently injured Jackson’s career in the long run, while preserving Timberlake’s.
New York Times Presents documentarian Jodi Gomes sought to understand the “how and the why” of the notorious incident through the special. And when asked by ET why they wanted to tackle the story now, Gomes cited a particular desire to approach the situation through today’s lens.
“I think because, you know, we wanted to frame the picture and look at everything through a new lens and look at it from today’s lens to find out exactly what happened,” Gomes explained. “It was a massive performance that touched a lot of people and it had a lot of unintended consequences, and we wanted to just look at it from today’s perspective and put it under a microscope and look at the how and the why. One person was treated differently than the other, and I just think it made a lot of sense for me at this time.”
Malfunction features never-before-seen interviews and footage of the people who were behind the scenes during the infamous moment, as well as glimpses of the coverage and political discourse that came out in the days following.
How to watch Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson: The documentary, which aired on FX as well, can be accessed by subscribing to Hulu. But if you’re not seeing it on your profile, make sure to search the full title, which many subscribers say they have had to do to find the film.