“I Can Do Better”: Justin Timberlake Apologizes To Britney Spears and Janet Jackson

The apology comes in the wake of the backlash Timberlake has received since the release of “Framing Britney Spears”

After being on the receiving end of backlash and accusations of sexism and misogyny, Justin Timberlake has issued an apology, specifically mentioning Britney Spears and Janet Jackson. It comes as a product of recent renewed introspection of his public behavior and relationship with Spears following the Framing Britney Spears documentary.

His statement came via an Instagram post. “I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right,” he wrote. “I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed.”

Image courtesy: Justin Timberlake

Timberlake also goes on to comment on the system that allowed for his misgivings to perpetuate. “The industry is flawed. It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It’s designed this way,” he wrote. “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.”

Image courtesy: Justin Timberlake

For context (as you can read in this sum-up on V), Framing Britney Spears, a documentary by the New York Times, showcased the turbulence of Spears’ personal and public life from her young debut till the present. Her battles with her legal conservatorship under her father and the vicious media reception towards her at the time were chronicled. It also taps into the #FreeBritney movement, which has only gotten stronger since the documentary’s release.

Timberlake and Spears were in a very public relationship for three years in the early 2000s before calling it quits. Post-dissolution, Timberlake made statements saying that they had slept together and vaguely alleged that she had cheated on him, a claim that he further solidified with his second solo single, the highly successful “Cry Me a River,” which featured a Spears lookalike in the music video. As a result, Spears was portrayed by the media in a highly misogynistic and judgmental way, contributing further to her personal setbacks later in the decade.

The Janet Jackson controversy stretches back to the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show, where Jackson performed with Timberlake, culminating in Timberlake pulling back a part of Jackson’s outfit that exposed her breast. “Nipplegate,” as it came to be known, ignited immense public ire and almost definitively led to the decline of Jackson’s career as she bore most of the blame. However, Timberlake witnessed the opposite effect, becoming one of the world’s biggest stars, even headlining the Halftime Show himself in 2018.

Neither Spears nor Jackson have responded to the apology so far. Spears herself has only vaguely acknowledged the documentary in a post on Twitter. Meanwhile, a development arises in Spears’ conservatorship case, with her father losing a court bid to retain control over delegation of her investments. 

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