Maroon 5 was engulfed in controversy before the band ever took the stage at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. Now, in an entirely different scandal, lead singer Adam Levine is under criticism for shedding his shirt in the midst of the performance.

Levine’s shirtless spectacle drew nowhere near the outrage of Janet Jackson’s infamous nipple-baring performance 15 years ago, yet the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveals the performance resulted in more than 50 complaints. Most of which demanded gender equality and expressed their frustration with the disparity in how male and female nudity is perceived by the U.S. agency and the public.

The FCC shared some of the letters with The Hollywood Reporter, with one reading that Levine’s shirtlessness “must be dealt with in a similar manner, or the double standard must be made public,” while another described witnessing Levine’s nipples as “repulsive.”


“Also the fact that there hasn’t been an immediate backlash like the Janet Jackson incident is disturbing and sexist,” a separate FCC complaint read.

The complaints are similar to the #JusticeForJanet comments that took over Twitter during this year’s big game. The tweets highlighted the gender inequality in allowing Levine to perform shirtless while Jackson was shamed for briefly exposing her breast during her 2004 Super Bowl halftime show with Justin Timberlake.

ESPN Host Katie Nolan, along with several other notable social media users, took to Twitter to express her confusion with the Super Bowl’s double standard.

In a letter to THR, Nancy Stevenson, FCC deputy chief for the consumer policy division, said that “the agency isn’t required to keep records of informal complaints for more than three years.” In other words, all records of consumer complaints about Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction have been discarded.

At the time, it was widely reported that more than half a million people complained to the FCC about Jackson’s nipple. The agency fined CBS $550,000, but it was eventually dismissed. Jackson’s career, however, took a hit and she was forced to apologize for the incident.

This stunt likely wouldn’t have been as big as a problem had it occurred on any other stage, but because of the Super Bowl’s history of nipple-related scandals, viewers were quick to criticize the male-female double standard.

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