Prince fans are in an uproar after the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
At Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, pop singer Justin Timberlake performed an ultimately lackluster halftime show performance. One of the noteworthy aspects of the performance was a projection of deceased pop singer Prince. The New Yorker reported that this was done after rumors emerged that Timberlake was going to duet alongside a hologram of Prince, causing a pre-Super Bowl controversy. Ultimately, the projection of Prince was still a disgrace to the singer’s memory.
Newsweek reported on the controversy. Years before Prince died in 2016, he was asked about the increasing use of technology to produce images of deceased performers. Newsweek stated that Prince said, “That whole virtual reality thing … it really is demonic. And I am not a demon.”
When TMZ reported in the days before the Super Bowl that Timberlake would be using a hologram of Prince, Prince fans erupted. Clearly, if Prince thought that images of the dead were ‘demonic,’ he would be opposed to the use of holograms. Newsweek stated that Prince’s confidant, Sheila E., asked Timberlake not to use a hologram because Prince would have opposed it. Timberlake allegedly claimed that he would not be using a hologram of Prince, which was, technically true.
However, a projection of Prince still created a virtual image of the performer. He would likely classify the image as being demonic despite the distinction. When it comes to the wishes of the dead, it is far better to err on the side of caution. And this isn’t the first time that Timberlake has dishonored Prince’s memory.
The New Yorker reported that Timberlake held a listening party for his album “Man of the Woods” at Prince’s Paisley Park homestead. At the performance, Timberlake served alcohol. Prince, who was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness during his lifetime, never allowed alcohol at Paisley Park.
So this incident isn’t just part of a pattern of disrespect for Prince, but also part of a pattern of disrespect by Timberlake at the Super Bowl.
The New York Post reported on Timberlake’s 2004 “Nipplegate” scandal. When he performed at the 2004 Super Bowl, Timberlake tugged on singer Janet Jackson’s clothes, causing a ‘nip slip’ in front of millions of viewers. This led to Federal Communications Commission fines and national outcry. Jackson apologized for the incident, but Timberlake never has and he performed the same song from “Nipplegate,” “Rock Your Body,” on Sunday’s performance.
With this pattern, it’s hard to assume that Timberlake had innocent intentions with his projection of Prince last night. Instead, he attempted to profit off of the legacy of a famous dead man to bring more success to his mediocre album. Timberlake wanted to call out to Prince’s incredible 2007 halftime performance, but failed completely.