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Janet Jackson promises candid new documentary ‘is the truth, love it or hate it’

A photo of a woman in black with long, curly hair
Janet Jackson arrives at her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2019.
(Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)

Janet Jackson is gearing up for a full look at her life. But for now, audiences are just getting a little taste of what’s to come in January.

“Hey u guys. Excited to share the first teaser of my new documentary with u,” the “Rhythm Nation” singer tweeted Monday, including a kissy-face emoji. Simply titled “Janet,” the upcoming TV event will arrive about 40 years after the release of Jackson’s eponymous debut album.

Lyrics from her 1986 song “Control” frame much of the teaser trailer, which promises “unseen personal footage” to come in the documentary from the Jackson family’s baby sister: “When I was 17, I did what people told me / I did what my father said / And let my mother mold me / But that was long ago.”

Cue the family footage of Mom, Dad and a young Janet at home and onstage.

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“This is my story, told by me. Not through someone else’s eyes,” the 55-year-old says earnestly about the documentary, titled simply “Janet.”

She adds, “This is the truth, love it or hate it. This is me.”

Mariah Carey, Missy Elliott and Paula Abdul are in awe of Jackson as they open the preview clip singing her praises.

“This is what a superstar look like,” says Elliott. “She’s an empowered woman,” Carey adds. “She is a force to be reckoned with,” Abdul says.

Artists like Janet Jackson don’t need white America’s approval.

“One of the best-selling and highest-earning artists in music history, Janet has enjoyed immense levels of success, experienced incredible tragedy, and endured a tumultuous private life in the face of extraordinary public scrutiny,” a press release noted Tuesday. “With no stone left unturned, ‘Janet’ lifts the lid on her private life for the very first time and reveals some of her most intimate moments ever caught on camera.

“Janet” will join a recent canon of documentaries and docuseries exploring the lives of female singers, including Tina Turner (“Tina”), Billie Eilish (“The World’s a Little Blurry”) and Demi Lovato (“Dancing With the Devil”).

Will this documentary recast our perception of the “All for You” singer, as “Framing Britney Spears” did very successfully for another global pop star? It’s hard to tell from the brief new trailer.

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Jackson notably got thrown under the bus for the original “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show she did with Justin Timberlake. Earlier this year, Timberlake rolled an apology to Jackson into his apology to Spears, whom he had painted as the villain after their 2002 breakup.

Applying the rigor of “Frontline” to the story of her conservatorship, “Framing Britney Spears” is a pointed work of criticism aimed at celebrity culture.

“This industry is flawed,” Timberlake wrote on Instagram in February. “It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It’s designed this way. As a man in a privileged position I have to be vocal about this. Because of my ignorance, I didn’t recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again.”

While the one-minute “Janet” teaser doesn’t reference the Super Bowl incident specifically, it does end with a suggestion that this doc could change hearts and minds: “I wanna be the one in control,” Jackson sings.

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The two-part, four-hour “Janet” documentary — executive produced by the singer and brother Randy Jackson — arrives in January on Lifetime and A&E.


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