Not Past It - TV's Hail Mary Pass

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Hey, not past it listeners.

We’re back with another historical, domino effect.

That’s where we travel through time and see how one moment in history, topples over a string of events, bringing us to unexpected places.

And in today’s episode, we’re hitting the field.


And the stage.

Revisiting a halftime show that revealed a lot more than it bargained for.

Oh my God, oh my God, the audacity From gimlet media.


This is not past it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind.

I’m Simone plannin on February 1st. 2004, 19 years ago this week Americans witnessed live on television, a Super Bowl mishap, that would impact our culture and our media consumption to this day.


So put on your jersey grabbed, some nachos and gather around the TV dominoes are all lined up.

We will tackle the first one after the break.

All right.


I am very excited to introduce you to today’s guest.

A podcast Legend.

He currently hosts into it a culture podcast from vulture and co-hosts Vibe.

Check a podcast from Stitcher it is the one and only Sam Sanders.

Welcome Sam hi it is so good to be here and can I start by saying the episode you did?


Oh my gosh about the iconic.

Patti LaBelle one of my favorite pieces of audio of all time.

Wow Wow.

Thank you for the public service work you do on this show.

I’m a very big fan.

Thank you.

Yeah, very kind.

Now today we’re going to talk a little bit about the Super Bowl just because you know, it’s coming up.


I’m curious.

Do you do anything for the Super Bowls?

This, you know, something that you celebrate and your life.

I’ve never too much cared about the game, but I’ll watch every halftime show and have notes.

And right now, I’m in that moment where I’m just like really Scared about the Rihanna halftime show, I love Rihanna, I love everything she does, but she hasn’t made music or dance on a stage and several years.


I’ve been hearing rumors that she’s like, showing up to halftime show rehearsal, either late or not at all.

And I’m like, Riri, you better get this show together, you better learn those steps, because it’s a big stage.

Well, you know, there’s a lot of interesting history associated with the Super Bowl that we will get Get into today.


All right.

But our Domino journey is going to start at a time.

Pre-super Bowl when Sundays were just Sundays, if you can imagine such a thing, so it’s 1939, we’re coming out of the Great Depression, and people are looking for the promise of something more, and that brings us to Queens, New York Post of the 1939 World’s Fair.


And there’s like, you know, a ton of fanfare, there’s bands, marching down the streets.

There’s Dancing people selling ice cream and that year the fair’s theme was the world of tomorrow.

So you could visit exhibits showing off emerging Technologies, like air conditioning.


You could dial a free long distance.

Phone call.

Very exciting.

Yeah, but there was one new technology that people were really going wild for.

Do you have any guesses as to what that was a technology in 1939?


Hmm, give me a hint has to do with entertainment.

As a tactic and we already have films with Sound by that point color.


Will they doing things in color for the first time?

I’m going to give you the answer, sorry.

I feel like you’re secure sterile again on it, but it was the television.

Oh, that was that early?

Yeah, pretty early.

Oh wow.

And it is that early television that will bring us to Domino.


Number one.

We’re starting our Domino journey in the Hall of televisions at the World’s Fair in 1939.

And that year, the radio Corporation of America or RCA, they were showing off their new television sets and among them was the first line of TVs available for sale to the public.


And there are see a president, David Sarnoff was you know, selling audiences on the future of the moving image and we actually have a clip of that.

That okay.

It is an art which shines like a torch of Hope in a troubled world it is a creative Force which we must learn to utilize for the benefit of all mankind.


Not calling television a torch of Hope.

Yeah, watch reality TV.

Have you watched the reality TV?

That’s funny LOL.

Yeah, big cell at the top of the invention, big sell ya, big sell.



Um, so you know, he had this very Grand Vision for what TV could do and I want to show you what some of those early models looked like.

But before I do, I’m curious.

Do you remember what your Family television looked like kind of I remember.


Yes there was a ginormous Magnavox big screen TV.

That was probably like two or three feet deep and I remember my brother and I playing Sega Genesis on that thing for hours at a time to where the TV would get so hot would have to like stop for a second.


Probably was like 100 pounds at least is massive.

Yeah well if you think that was less than An ideal.

This was a model that RCA was selling at the time.

Can you describe what you’re looking at?

Why is this green?


The smallest part.

It looks like a big old record player.

Like a big old phonograph that sits on like a kitchen table or something.

And what seems to be the screen part of it is maybe less than a quarter of the actual device.



Why is it so small?

That’s big chunky box with these dials and then the tiny screen, huh?

The screen size, by the way, Like just around 5 inches so lightweight basically like a smartphone screen, this is.

Wow, that’s wild.


Yeah, and I don’t know if you can see there but the sound is also comes from a separate device.

So you had like these two devices.

Yeah, ridiculous.

That’s like a separate radio for sound, huh?

So, you know, in the Hall of televisions RCA is trying to sell this new medium to the public.


But the big question I was, you know, we have this new technology, but what do we put on this teeny tiny little screen that people would be excited to watch.

Now, I’m curious.

What would you put on TV?

If you were tasked with, like trying to figure this out, I would just do a bunch of variety shows.


Get cute.

Famous people who can sing and dance, singing and dancing.

What else do I want?

Were they doing that?

Please send their love that.

That sounds way better than what they want with my opinion.

What they go with Nate.

Went with good old football baby.

Oh, you know, I guess I get it.


I get it.

Yeah, makes sense.

That track All-American.

I’m, you know, I’m more of a halftime show girly myself than the actual game.

You know, that’s just me.

So this was the first time pro football was broadcast live on TV.

It was the Philadelphia Eagles playing against the Brooklyn.


Dodgers, not to be confused with the baseball Dodgers and I would imagine it would have been pretty exciting to watch, you know, especially If you’ve never really seen images moving on screens, it’s remarkable.

It’s Magic, right?


However it became pretty clear pretty quickly that this broadcast machine wasn’t very well oiled yet.


Hmm, the cameras that they use to film The Game were so sensitive to light changes that when a cloud passed over the field TV screens at the World’s Fair would go dark.

Oh yeah.

So still working out a few Kinks, You know, obviously yeah but then after Or to the technology improved I got cheaper.


And in the 1950s TVs were quickly, becoming a common household fixture.

So the big three TV networks ABC, NBC and CBS.

They are like hey we can make a ton of money on this.

In 1958 a televised NFL championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants was watched by 45 million people on my God.



And you know when you get that kind of money rolling in it’s not long before more people try to start cashing in on it and that’s going to bring us to Domino number two, all right?

Enter a fella by the name of Lamar Hunt.


Okay, who is he?

He had been a football player in college.

He wasn’t quite Pro level, though, but the more important fact was that he was the son of a Texas oil tycoon and he was like, you know what, I can’t play football.

So why not own football?


Hey, so in 1959, 26 year old Lamar Hunt, approaches the National Football League, aka the NFL, the main Football league and he’s like, I want to start a team in Dallas, Texas.


The league executives are like hmm, no, you can’t do that.

So Lamar was like, you know what, I’ll do my own thing then.

So he gathers up a bunch of other sort of Rich franchise hopefuls and proposes that they start their own rival League called the American Football League or the AFL AFL, okay?


Yeah, those guys and I will say this, It’s the NFL was not happy about having this new competition.

They would get into these bidding wars with the AFL over recruiting the best college Talent.


So that caused player, salaries to Skyrocket a little football inflation if you will.


Hey, I see what you did.

I see what you did there and I like, what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna notice about thank you.

Thank you.

So, in the end though, the NFL and the AFL called a truce and in 1966, they announced their decision to merge.


Now, one of the main things that came out of this merger was that at the end of the season, one team from each league, would duke it out on the field, in the afl-nfl world championship game, aka the Super Bowl us to Domino, 03.


Now, the name the Super Bowl that actually came from none other than Lamar Hunt himself, good old the mark.

He knows what he’s doing sure.

Does, I would be shocked if you got this next question, right?

But what do you guess, why he named it?

The Super Bowl a bowl was involved in some capacity.


Pretty good.

Pretty good guys.

Gonna be either Super Bowl, right?


It was actually inspired by one of his kids toys this popular toy from the 60s.

All the super ball.

I’m looking this up.

Super Ball, toy 60s.


It’s just a ball.

It’s a bouncy ball.



Marketing is a crazy thing.

Sure is sure is now, Sam much like the Super Bowl.


This episode is divided into two halves, which means we have reached our halftime, but when we get back, we’re going to learn about About the birth of the Super Bowl halftime show and the ripple effect it had on pop culture and Beyond.


I love it.



All right, we’re back and ready for kickoff.

We’re here with host of the podcast and to it and co-host a Vibe.


Check Sam Sanders, hi, and Sam.

Maybe you could start us off with a little play by play of the first half.

Oh, we talked about the history and creation of modern television, which became a thing at the World’s Fair in Queens.


And 1939 at the World’s Fair, they’re showing In a TV broadcast, which is the like first ever broadcast of a professional football game.

After that, we see the television become ascendant and American culture and we see the Super Bowl come to be in the television Consciousness.


Zack, does that work?

That was so beautiful.

They nailed it.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Appreciate how much down if you will?



Yeah, so we left off in the middle of our third Domino with the birth of the first Super Bowl and by extension our first Super Bowl halftime show which if I recall correctly was like just like a marching band, right?


Oh sounds like you know a little bit about this for show marching bands will yes, make an appearance that is true.

So it’s January 1967 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles at the end of the first half.


Team is ahead.

One team is behind blah blah blah.

And the halftime show is about to begin.

Now you mentioned marching bands.

Yeah, we’re definitely featured but alongside the marching band.

They also released three hundred pigeons into the sky.


Jesus. 300!

That’s 300 pigeons.

Possibly crapping over the crowd at the game.

Don’t worry.

It wasn’t just marching bands and Pigeons, they also released ten thousand balloons cute.


But the highlight of the show were a pair of Rocket men, who soared above the field strapped, to jetpacks, how high up to they get in here.

I like, pretty high up.

I’d be really scared to be one of those Rocket Man.

Now, over the next several years, the NFL got more popular and evolved into the PowerHouse.


We know today.

And while the leak continue to grow in popularity, unfortunately, I Say the same thing about the halftime shows stayed pretty rinky-dink for a while.

Yeah, they would book like, you know, fading Stars Disney characters.


I had the Rockettes, they had an Elvis impersonator.

Wait, an impersonator, not a yeah, come on.



But there’s one show in particular, I want to dive into and that is the 1992 halftime show.


The theme was winter magic.

Who am I?

That sounds like a really bad prom theme from high school, winter magic.


I’m Googling this.

There were figure skaters on the field.


They had a big figure skaters skating around but on these like tiny little patches of ice that’s pulling up the clip.


This is some campy shit, dancers are dressed like snowflakes Yeah, I cannot wait to share this video with several of my group chat.

Oh my God, you blessed me.

You blessed me.

I’m glad you’re getting a lot of entertainment factor out of it.


Can’t say the same about the 1992, Super Bowl audience.



And I love this part of the story.

So, Fox saw this, this was before they were a partner to the NFL, when they were still, you know, an emerging Network and they saw an opportunity T to steal viewers.


And during that same time slot, Fox set up its own counter-programming, oh, JD which was a special Super Bowl themed episode of The Comedy sketch show In Living Color.

Oh, that’s so much better.

Yes, how do, I not know that that happened because it’s funny growing up.


My mother would not let my brother and I watch anything adult-themed but she was always like, no and Living Color is a big piece of Black Culture, y’all can watch.

So I was a little bitty kid watch.

That raunchy raunchy sketch, show, and loving it.

But I did not remember or recall that there was an In Living Color halftime show.


That’s kind of amazing.

Yeah, is it good?


I mean it was really successful and, you know, they really kind of leaned into the, you know, we’re stealing the audience thing.


Good for them, they do this.

Great thanks.

So you know, if you were a viewer and you were worried about missing the start of the second half, Fox had your back.


That’s where this comes in.

RC Super Bowl countdown clock.

It’ll be coming on later in the show to let you know.

When to switch back to the second half you won’t miss any of the senseless brutality is that Jim Carrey.

It sure is let’s say young Jim Carrey.

I love it.

Also we should just stop right now to say for those who don’t know go back and watch In Living Color that show and its prime was three times better than SNL and it gave us so many great Stars.


It gave us all of the weigh-ins.

It gave us Jim Carrey.

It gave us David Alan Grier it gave us Jamie Knocks it, everybody came through that show, it was like all the black Excellence you know?

And love right now came from that show.


A platform that launched a million stars anywho.


So the In Living Color special was a hit and the Super Bowl halftime show, reportedly lost.

Millions of viewers that year.

Oh, wow, so it worked it sure did yeah.


Um and the following year, the host Network NBC was Was determined not to make the same mistake, like we cannot lose millions of people at halftime.


Yeah, yeah, we need to put on a show that people won’t want to turn away from a show within a show.

So the following year in 1993, it’s Super Bowl, 27.

And the halftime show is about to begin.

On one end of the field, way above the Jumbotron Sparks Fly followed by a puff of smoke and then boom suddenly out of nowhere.


Our former pops up on top of the Jumbotron who is it.

But wait, who is it is that really them?

Because on the other end of the field on top of another giant screen, there’s more Sparks more smoke and boom.


Another person dressed in the exact same outfit pops up.

And then before you could wonder what the heck is going on from center stage in the middle of the field.

Yet another person is launched into the air and Dazzle of pyrotechnics.

Bill and confidently be planted on the stage Frozen and pose.


And The Crowd Goes Wild cheering for nearly two minutes straight.

Was it Michael Jackson?


Okay, I was gonna do all this build-up.

Yeah, you got.


It could do that.

Who could get like, two minutes of Applause in 93.

And it was Michael.

Okay, cool.

King of Pop himself.

Michael Jackson is a problem, we know this, but that man could move on a stage.

Wow, I mean yeah I would come on just man that man had the gift now at this point.


His career.

Michael had already won 12 Grammys.

He’d already redefined the music video with Thriller and he was in the midst of a world tour for his new album, dangerous and Michael’s performance.

Reportedly had more eyes on it than the game’s first half, listen, I believe that fully mhm, fully and completely.



So quite a dramatic change from winter magic from the year prior.

Totally, do you know if they paid Michael for that?

They did not pay him.


So his manager actually ask for a million dollars they were like we can’t do that but we will donate 100 thousand dollars to Michael’s foundation and so he took that deal, huh?


Okay, and after Michael, the NFL just really leaned into star power for it’s halftime shows in 1996 Diana.

Ross performed in 98, they had the Temptations and Queen Latifah.


What a pairing?

Yeah, honestly, though, like, I want that now.

Yeah, yeah.

And in 2001 in sync performed with Aerosmith and a little Rising pop star by the name of Britney Jean Spears.

I remember that and before long, the halftime show stage, would again, feature a show from a Jackson and an NSYNC member and that brings us to Domino.


Number four Now obviously it’s impossible to talk about historic halftime shows without mentioning one, in particular February 1st. 2004 19 years ago this week.


Oh, Janet Jackson.

See, I don’t like to focus on that one because it wasn’t Janet’s fault and yeah, it wasn’t her fault.

I blame Justin.

But yes, let’s talk about it.

The halftime show that broke the world at least for a few days.

It’s, yes.


So after performing her songs, all for you and Rhythm Nation.

For some reason, Janet Jackson is joined by Justin Timberlake on stage who didn’t need to be there.

I literally don’t get it but he was there.

Like listen, he was there performing his single rock, your body, which when we compare that to freaking Rhythm Nation, can’t even compare.


Why is he on the stage then?

Timed with his closing lyric better?

Have you naked by the end of this song Just in tears away a piece of Janet’s, bustier exposing.

Her breasts fireworks.

Go off on stage and the stadium lights Fade Out.


Now it’s estimated that around 100 million people, watched the performance on TV that day.

Did you catch it live?

To remember I remember watching the show and just not watching the news afterwards.

So I didn’t know that nipplegate was a thing until the next day, when everyone was talking about it in my experience with nipplegate was that like Like if we didn’t talk about it, we wouldn’t have known it was such a split second, it was such a flash.


What made the story?

A story was news media showing that split-second over and over and over again for days?

Yeah and truly.

It was a split second.

It was literally 9/16 of a second.

Oh my God.

Like wow, barely anything.


Yeah but like you said it’s the story spends an eternity and the News cycle which I was pissed me off and I was pissed me off.

There’s a lot to be pissed off about the situation.

Let’s take a listen to how some people reacted, at the time, elapsed.


During the halftime show that ended with pop singer Janet Jackson popping out of her costume.

I think that people were truly harmed by what she did, especially kids, the thing that stands out in all of this to me, is, I finally came to understand why Tebow has that quick backup button?


Oh my God.

Oh my God, the audacity T.

Yeah not the most lovely thing to listen to.

So the FCC actually they got like a record number of complaints complaints.

I remember that.



Like more than half a million complaints about indecency so America breaks because of Janet Jackson’s nipple.

I guess I don’t get it.

I really don’t get it.

Yeah, and you know, unfortunately Janet is the one who suffers Purrs.


You know the brunt of the backlash.

Her career just takes a huge hit.

She’s as we heard vilified in the media.

She’s disinvited from the Grammys, meanwhile Justin, didn’t he go to those Grammys?


He went to the Grammys, he went to awards that year.

And on top of that, after Janet accident, the Super Bowl does not see a female artist headline, the halftime show again for another seven years until 111.



And even then it was Fergie with the Black Eyed Peas.

So not even a solo performer.


Well, also fun, not fun.


Sad fact about this nipplegate really became the birth of YouTube.


Sam, you are one step ahead of me.

Oh sorry.

Sorry my God.

You’re funded.

You’re just too, you’re just too good.

Well, I guess we gotta go to Domino number five.


Then drumroll, please.

Now one person, who’d missed that halftime show was a guy named David Kareem he had left his computer science studies to work at a hot new startup called PayPal when suddenly one work day everybody was talking about Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl and if you were like Javed and missed it live unless you had a VCR or TiVo, you were kind of shit out of luck.


Interestingly Enough by itself.

Some counts Janet’s wardrobe.

Malfunction had become the all-time most searched topic online replacing 911.

Oh my God, America, where our priorities.



Do with that information, what you will and Javed and his Tech friends realized, you know, for events, like the wardrobe malfunction, you couldn’t really find video clips.

That would help you catch up on what was being talked about videos were sort of dispersed across the internet.


And when you did find them, they weren’t so many different video formats.

You know, you couldn’t just like click and play so they thought, hey, we should build a site that does that and on Valentine’s Day 2005, they registered a new domain, YouTube.


Yes, YouTube, the saint even in the darkest moment of her career.

Janet Jackson gave us one of the most dominant technological advancements of our time, which is YouTube, as far as I’m concerned, the YouTube people owe her a cut of all their profits.


That’s what I think.


I that’s what I think.

I would agree with that.

I mean, at least some shares, like, come on, come on, give her something.

Now, obviously, YouTube becomes this huge internet Behemoth and it’s very disconcerting to think, you know, this wildly successful platform was inspired by people looking for clips of a woman, who’d been unintentionally exposed.


Yeah, yeah.

And that kind of brings me back to that speech.

About the invention of Television that we heard all the way at the beginning of our journey from RCA president, David Sarnoff at the 1939.

World’s Fair.

It is a creative Force, which we must learn to utilize for the benefit of all mankind.



Now, considering the journey, we’ve just been on.

How is it hearing?

Sarnoff’s words now?

I mean, it’s like the story of alltech, right?

Like it starts out and we love it.

We think it’s going to change the world.

For the better.

And then once it’s been around long enough, it’s trays very far from the better angels of our nature and just becomes demon Leia’s, you know, like Facebook started out great, hope of technology and now it’s a cesspool saying with all this platform.


So of course, TV with follow the same trajectory, hmm.

Also, there are no better morale, angels of our nature.

When it comes to TV, we don’t want to watch The Good Ship, we want to watch the bad shit and that’s what we do.

That’s the story of Television.

The biggest show was always the Super Bowl a game where we watch people kill each other.


And the biggest moment in television, history was the indecent and unplanned exposure of a black woman’s breast, we like the betcha.

Wow, like to make it real dark.

I mean, I think about this right?


Like We have these high hopes for these new technologies, but as they get adopted by humans, are they just?

I don’t know, is it just a reflection of who we are and we just like, have a hard time confronting that?

Yeah, it’s who we are.

That’s like, well, of course, Nothing Gold Can Stay Baby.


Like, it’s just gonna become a reflection of who we are, as a culture, which is generally depraved.

Sorry, totally depraved.


Love that for Humanity.

Now, you know, part of the tragedy of Janet’s story is Not only was she punished for her performance at the Super Bowl.


But so many people profited from her pain, including YouTube this massive company and I just I wonder like how do we contend with that?

I don’t contend with it.

I kind of just like acknowledge that this is a long pattern of American History when you even think about how you were talking about.


How Michael Jackson himself was a person who made the celebrity halftime show a thing.

You also noted that he wasn’t paid for it and then when you think about Janet Jackson, giving birth to the biggest video platform of our time and not getting a dime for it, this is part and parcel of American History, American popular culture, take some black people and doesn’t pay them for it and then that becomes the dominant culture, This is the story of like all of history, you know.


Yeah, listen, it’s hard to talk about American history without talking about.

This is what was so crazy about the nipplegate thing is that everyone thought that we had the right to just keep looking at her breasts, that’s not cool.

She obviously didn’t want us to see it.

It’s her breasts, right?


But we felt as if we had ownership over that moment ownership over that video to the extent that like these Tech Bros.

Made a whole company built on the back of that.

Like we have really Warped.

Notions of autonomy.

When it comes to the bodies and work of black creatives.



Don’t get me started, that’s another episode.

Well, hey, if I could extend the time I would but we have reached our end zone.

What’s good?

Cuz it’s was send.

Those are all the football words, I know.


So thank you so much for joining me today is Sam.

Thank you.

This is delightful.


Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media, this episode was produced by Nick, Delle Rose.

Next week, we’re bringing you an episode from the podcast conviction, which this season tells the story of a New York rapper and a mysterious discovery that would change the course of his life.


The rest of our team, our producers remotely Phillip and Olivia Briley an associate producer, Lauren Newcomb.

Jasper jarecki is our intern, the supervising producer is Erica Morrison.

The editing by k.t. feather.

Andrea be Scott is our executive editor fact-checking by Jan akkerman, sound design and mixing by Emma Monger original music, by Sachs kicks, Ave Willie Green, J bless and Bobby.



Our theme song as Toko Liana by cocoa, with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman.

The executive producer at CSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte, the executive producer from gimlet is match.

Silts special, thanks to Leopold green Abbie ruzicka.


Dan Behar Jen.


Emily wiedemann list Styles and Ariel Joseph follow not past it.

Now to listen for free exclusively on Spotify, click the Bell next to the follow button to get notifications for new episodes and while you’re there hey why don’t you write us?

Five stars.

You can follow me on Twitter at Simone palana in.


Thanks for hanging, we’ll see you next week.

And I’m like, Riri, you better get this show together, you better learn those steps because it’s a big stage.

Sure is.

Wow, maybe she’ll do like a live makeup tutorial.


She just comes on this stage halftime show and she gives like the quarterback of one of the team’s a fresh face beat.

I heard watch what very entertaining.

And I’m like, Riri, you better get this show together, you better learn those steps because it’s a big stage.

Sure is.

Wow, maybe she’ll do like a live makeup tutorial.

She just comes on this stage halftime show and she gives like the quarterback of one of the team’s a fresh face beat.

I heard watch what very entertaining.