After the world learned the phrase “wardrobe malfunction,” we tend to forget: it was really, really fast.
It clocks in at 9/16 of a second
At the end of a high-energy show headlined by Jackson and her crew of hardworking dancers, Jackson and surprise guest Justin Timberlake made the unimaginable happen, and 140 million viewers were briefly exposed to on-air nudity in what would soon be called "Nipplegate." The fallout was swift and vicious, as Jackson was targeted for the indecent exposure in a moral and legal crusade. Much of the rest of her performance's high notes—including shout-outs to the audience to reject bigotry, prejudice, and ignorance—have since been forgotten, overshadowed by the scandalous display.
(Imagine, by the way, if today’s piranha school of social media had been around to feast on the Super Bowl flash: Facebook would have exploded; the scene would have been memed, GIF-ed, and Photoshopped within seconds; and Janet Jackson’s nipple would have 5,000 fake Twitter accounts. The incident would have flared even faster, louder, and bigger, but it possible we might also have gorged ourselves on it sooner and moved on.)