Justin Timberlake Gets Second Chance at 'Super' Opportunity - NBC Chicago
Super Bowl LII

Super Bowl LII

Philadelphia Eagles 41, New England Patriots 33

Justin Timberlake Gets Second Chance at 'Super' Opportunity

The singer's Super Bowl LII halftime gig gives him a chance to make things right with Janet Jackson.

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 01: Recording artist Justin Timberlake speaks onstage at the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show Press Conference at Hilton Minneapolis on February 1, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

    Justin Timberlake is responsible for two of the three top catchphrases spawned from Super Bowl halftime mishaps: "wardrobe malfunction" and "Nipplegate" (he gets no blame, however, for Katy Perry's infamous "Left Shark" of 2015).

    The "SexyBack" singer returns to the halftime stage Sunday, some 14 years after he exposed Janet Jackson's breast – along with morality fault lines in a country that became unduly obsessed with what seemed more an accident than a stunt.

    Timberlake arrives at Super Bowl LII with a chance to reveal something about his character: It might – or might not – be too much to hope for a Jackson cameo. But Timberlake has an opportunity to pay tribute to the superstar he upstaged with his nasty boy antics all those year ago.

    The clothing rip seen around the world went viral about a year before YouTube's debut – becoming a peak for TiVo and a headache for CBS amid a flood of complaints to the FCC.

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    The hoopla seems almost quaint in era where pseudo-celebrities unworthy of citizenship in Jackson's Rhythm Nation launch careers with sex tapes and bawdy Instagram accounts.

    Still, the halftime controversy marked a line of demarcation of sorts for Jackson, whose influential career never matched its previous heights.

    Meanwhile, Timberlake flourished, becoming a credible actor (most notably in "The Social Network") and a reliably funny "Saturday Night Live" host, while pushing his music far beyond his *NSYNC days.

    It appears unlikely Joey Fatone and the gang will show up Sunday. But an appearance from Jackson or a classy callout to her, musically or otherwise, would fit the bill. 

    Timberlake has a chance to make things right. Even in an age where fame and infamy are too often indistinguishable, it's better to be best remembered for hits than notorious flops.

    Just ask the Left Shark.

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    Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.