Society & Culture

Just me, talking and rambling my way through all this social distancing. Listen, share and follow me on IG/Twitter @phillbranch and

February 5, 2021

On Janet: Race, Gender & Wardrobe Malfunctions

Hey!!! I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the release of Control, talking about Janet, her legacy and my new class - On Janet: Race, Gender & Wardrobe Malfunctions.
This podcast will have its own space, but I thought I'd share this first episode with my loyal Isolation listeners. Check next week to keep up with future episodes, the syllabus and other discussions.
I'll be posting the syllabus next week, when class officially starts. I also plan to do 10 episodes that coincide with the syllabus, so do your homework and join the discussion. Shout out to Goucher College for giving me space to explore this topic.
I am a one man band...with two other classes, two 5 year olds and insomnia. There will be glitches. I'm gonna let them rock. Ain't nobody got time for editing. 🤷🏾‍♂️
A brief description of the class and the first set of readings are below. Take a peek.
And by the way...what's your favorite cut from Control?
On Janet: Race, Gender and Wardrobe Malfunctions
Description and Goals:
We will use Janet Jackson’s career as a case study to examine how race, gender and politics play a role in how media content is created, marketed and consumed.
The Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004) Halftime Show which featured Janet Jackson as the headliner and resulted in what became coined as a “wardrobe malfunction,” was a turning point for the global pop icon and touchstone for discussions about race, gender and politics and popular culture. She is often cited as the trigger that helped propel YouTube’s success.
Despite her enormous success and her place among the most revered artists in pop music, she was blacklisted for the Super Bowl incident. Radio stations banned her music, MTV stopped promoting her videos, album sales dropped, etc. Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake, the featured performer during Janet’s Super Bowl performance, became one of the biggest stars in the world. His career did not suffer at all; despite his role in tearing off Janet’s bustier, revealing her breast.
This course will examine how pop music iconography is crafted and maintained under systemic structures that disempower women, Blacks and other marginalized groups. We will gain an understanding of power and how it functions in the media. We will look at the social/cultural implications of Janet being blacklisted, while Justin Timberlake’s career flourished. We will also examine Janet Jackson’s recent return to prominence as a respected legacy artist and how modern protest movements via social media helped revitalize her career and legacy.
In the end you will see that entertainment is about more than a song, a dance or an image. It is all about control and in order for the system to function, someone has to wield it and others yield.
Weekly Schedule ·
Week One
On Janet Jackson and Black Music Crossover Success
Sorry, Ms. Jackson: You’re Underrated. ‘Control’ at 30 -
A Pop and R&B Legend, Janet Jackson Is Still Somehow Underrated -
Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation redefined pop style 30 years ago -
Guiding Question: What makes Janet Jackson’s success significant given the era in which she began her music career?
Reach me at @phillbranch on IG/Twitter and at
Season 2 of Isolation be Like coming soon....
Recorded Feb. 4, 2021

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