Janet Jackson Documentary Solidifies Legacy of LGBTQ Icon, Teases New Single ‘Luv I Luv’
Janet Jackson is both adored and dismissed because of the soft tone of her voice, but in "Janet Jackson," the two-night documentary recently aired on Lifetime/A&E, she roars.
Jackson, 55, has largely remained quiet throughout her career, relying on her artistry through four studio albums between 2004-2015 to address the truth about her life during a relentless campaign by media gatekeepers intent on destroying her legacy.
Now the fiercely private entertainer grants access to her life and legendary career in an unprecedented way. As she did in 1986, with the release of her third album, "Control," Jackson is reshaping the narrative that has attempted to reduce her to a footnote in pop history instead of the record-breaking, award-winning, multi-platinum, crossover success that defined a generation. While many of her musical contemporaries who have passed on have failed to take ownership of their stories while they were alive, resulting in a narrative of fact and fiction, Jackson is not making the same mistake.
This is a reckoning. And Jackson, along with her legions of LGBTQ+ fans, are coming with receipts.
In the age of streaming, TikTok, and viral videos, many young music consumers born at the start of the new millennium or in the years following have little to no concept of Jackson's catalog or her musical and cultural influence. It's as if her artistry ceased to exist in the years following the release of "All For You," Jackson's seventh studio album, released in April 2001, becoming her fifth consecutive number one album on the Billboard 200 with the highest opening week sales of her career.
Following Jackson's controversial 2004 Super Bowl XcXXVIII Halftime Show, an influential radio and television blackout at the bequest of disgraced former chairman and CEO of CBS Les Moonves silenced the megastar entertainer for years on all Viacom Media platforms. The targeted campaign against Jackson by Moonves and others caused irreparable damage to her career, rendering her invisible and inaccessible to a new generation of fans. Many of those fans later embraced superstar entertainers such as Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, and others, each influenced by, and who borrow heavily from, Jackson's blueprint as a Black female entertainer, yet she often goes uncredited. Until now.
"She's definitely had an incredible impact on my career. If there's no Janet, then there is no me," says singer Ciara, who is among a list of celebrities that include Missy Elliott, Mariah Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel Jackson, and more who provide commentary in the documentary.
"She paved the way. Janet has planted the seed that will continue to flourish and impact so many. That's what legacy is about. Janet Jackson is an icon," Ciara adds.
"She's literally done it all," said R&B singer Teyana Taylor, who, along with Ciara, is another of Jackson's musical daughters whose image and stage performances are heavily inspired by Jackson's artistry.
"I was watching some of her old concert footage, the way Janet went in with everything that she did, the girls don't go in like that these days," says Broadway dancer James Harkness ("Ain't Too Proud") and a lifelong Janet fan. "They think that they are. Janet went in hard, and she still does. She worked to get to where she is."
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