Because the event was occurring during an election year, MTV decided that the show's theme would heavily focus on the network's "Choose or Lose" campaign, which encouraged younger viewers to be politically active and register to vote.

Super Bowl XXXVIII – which was broadcast live on February 1, 2004, from Houston, Texas, on the CBS television network in the United States – was noted for a controversial halftime show in which Janet Jackson's breast, adorned with a nipple shield, was exposed by Justin Timberlake for about half a second, in what was later referred to as a "wardrobe malfunction".

the incident was ridiculed both within the United States and abroad; some American commentators saw the incident as a sign of decreasing morality in the national culture, while others considered the incident harmless and felt that it received an undue amount of attention and backlash.

The halftime show that year was produced by MTV and was themed around the network's Choose or Lose campaign due to the event occurring during a presidential election year.

Following the wardrobe incident, the National Football League (NFL) announced that MTV, which also produced the halftime show for Super Bowl XXXV, would not be involved in any halftime shows in the future.

Following the incident, media conglomerates involved with the broadcast who were fined by the FCC, including Viacom and CBS, their co-owned subsidiaries MTV and Infinity Broadcasting, and Clear Channel Communications, enforced a blacklist of Jackson's singles and music videos on many radio formats and music channels worldwide.

In January 2014, former FCC chairman Michael Powell stated that the controversy, fines, and reaction to the incident were overblown, and also said Jackson did not deserve the harsh treatment and blacklisting she had received in the media.Powell also considered it "unfair" that Timberlake did not receive the same effect and backlash that Jackson had endured.In 2002, Entertainment Weekly reported that Jackson was the original choice to perform at the halftime show for Super Bowl XXXVI, however the NFL ultimately decided to select U2 to headline it after a group of NFL owners and officials attended the band's concert in New York City shortly after the September 11 attacks.Her name was the first that popped up in my head just because I love her voice. I mean, she sounds like an angel." During the halftime show, Jackson performed a medley of hits, beginning with "All for You", "Rhythm Nation" and a brief excerpt of "The Knowledge" before surprise guest Timberlake appeared to perform a duet version of Timberlake's song "Rock Your Body".The performance featured several suggestive dance moves by both singers, and as Timberlake reached his final line of "Rock Your Body", "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song", Timberlake pulled off a part of Jackson's costume, revealing her right breast, partially covered by a piece of nipple jewelry, for less than a second.In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the CBS broadcast cut to an aerial view of Reliant Stadium (the host venue for Super Bowl XXXVIII), but was unable to do so before the picture was sent to the television sets of an estimated 143 million viewers.