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Janet, Justin Sued by Viewer

Tennessee woman takes legal action over halftime stunt

February 6, 2004 12:00 AM ET

The fallout over Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's racy Super Bowl halftime performance continues, as a Tennessee woman has filed suit against the pair as well as halftime show producer MTV, broadcaster CBS and parent company Viacom.

Knoxville native Terri Carlin filed a proposed class action lawsuit in a U.S. District Court on Wednesday, charging the accused with causing her and "millions of others" to "suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury." The suit reportedly seeks billions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.

The incident has caused ripples throughout the country. Congress is entertaining a bill that would increase the fine for airing "indecent" material during prime time from $27,500 to $270,000 (though if each CBS affiliate that aired the Super Bowl is hit with a fine, the $27,500 could turn to millions of dollars). Network television is also beginning to make preemptive changes with their upcoming programming. ABC will institute a five-second tape delay during its February 29th Academy Awards telecast, the first time the network has ever done so. And CBS will use a five-minute delay during this Sunday's Grammy Awards.

Jackson and Timberlake's stunt -- both claim that Jackson's breast wasn't supposed to be fully exposed -- was seen by more than 90 million viewers, prompting the widespread outrage. According to a report, the Federal Communications Commission fielded 240,000 complaints about "indecency" on television in 2003; in the days since the Super Bowl, more than 200,000 have been logged.

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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