Maroon 5’s Super Bowl halftime performance was met with backlash from the start. But frontman Adam Levine sparked unexpected controversy Sunday when he took his shirt off mid-song. Twitter was abuzz with snarky comments pointing out a double standard that goes all the way back to 2004.
The performance seemed to serve as one extended striptease, as the Voice coach removed a blazer, zip-up jacket, and tank top over the course of 12 or so minutes. During “Moves Like Jagger,” Adam had nothing but his tattoos to cover him. As many viewers wondered, why is it cool for Adam Levine to show his nipples during the Super Bowl, when Janet Jackson’s career took a hit for the same thing 15 years ago?
What Twitter Had To Say
Tweets ranged from lighthearted to just plain mad, as viewers were reminded of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during Super Bowl XXXVIII. As you may remember, Justin Timberlake pulled the singer’s costume open during their performance, revealing one of her nipples. Janet then faced the brunt of the controversy.
now I have to explain to my children that adam levine has nipples
— ziwe (@ziwe) February 4, 2019
Super Bowl halftime nipple rules feel inconsistent
— Katie Nolan (@katienolan) February 4, 2019
Why is it okay to see Adam Levine’a boobs and not Janet Jackson’s?
Asking for a friend.
— Aisha Tyler (@aishatyler) February 4, 2019
wow. so brave of adam levine to honor janet jackson’s legacy by showing us both his nipples.
— vicky mochama (@vmochama) February 4, 2019
WHY CAN ADAM SHOW HIS NIPS BUT JANET CANT #superbowl
— Kaitlyn Bristowe (@kaitlynbristowe) February 4, 2019
Oh but we can see Adam Levine’s nipples @FCC
— Ira (@ira) February 4, 2019
YOU’RE TELLING ME JAMET JACKSON CANT SHOW ONE NIPPLE BUT ADAM LEVINE CAN BE SHIRTLESS?
— Ashly Perez (@itsashlyperez) February 4, 2019
This country should have a serious chat about why Adam Levine’s nipples are, uh, apparently “acceptable” on TV but Janet Jackson was shamed and blacklisted for something she didn’t even do.#SuperBowl
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) February 4, 2019
It’s Not The Only Controversy
Interestingly, this is the second Super Bowl halftime performance in a row to piss off Janet Jackson fans in particular. Last year, a lot of people took issue with Justin Timberlake’s appearance at the game. They were especially bothered by his choice to perform “Rock Your Body,” the song he and Janet were performing when the infamous wardrobe malfunction occurred.
It also wasn’t the only reason people had to disapprove of Maroon 5’s performance. As of this writing, the official NFL YouTube video of the halftime show has 168,000 thumbs down compared to only 22,000 thumbs up. Some people just don’t like Maroon 5 as a rule, and have turned their supposed suckiness into a punch line. Others were bothered by the show’s teasing of a SpongeBob SquarePants tribute that never came to be.
But the most serious issue people had was with the band’s choice to accept an offer from the NFL — the very league that has worked to keep players like Colin Kaepernick from kneeling during the national anthem.
View this post on Instagram
When we accepted the responsibility to perform at the SBHTS, I took out my pen and just wrote. Some of the words that came to me in that moment eventually made their way onto the incredible lanterns that flew high and low tonight. We thank the universe for this historic opportunity to play on the world’s biggest stage. We thank our fans for making our dreams possible. And we thank our critics for always pushing us to do better. One Love. ❤️ And the list of words is… Forgive Laugh Cry Smile Share Live Endure Embrace Remember Enlighten Preserve Inspire Sweat Fight Express Give Receive Elevate Climb Unify Fortify Soften Dance Scream Dream Educate Provide Inhale Exhale Persevere Stand Kneel Overcome Love Listen
What Adam Levine Had To Say
The singer told Entertainment Tonight before the performance, “No one thought about it more than I did. No one put more thought and love into this than I did. … I spoke to many people, most importantly though, I silenced all the noise and listened to myself, and made my decision about how I felt.”
He also posted on Instagram after the performance, writing that he and the band “thank our critics for always pushing us to do better.” He added several words that apparently appeared on lanterns during the show. They included, interestingly, the words “Stand” and “Kneel.”
If you managed to avoid the halftime show and want to see what all the fuss was about, check it out right here: