Justin Timberlake Just Apologized to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson
The singer has been under fire for his past behavior towards the two performers.
Last weekend, Justin Timberlake was the subject of the internet's ire for a couple of reasons: Firstly, the documentary Framing Britney Spears was released, casting Timberlake in a poor light for the way he participated in vilifying the pop star after their breakup. And with Super Bowl LV came the now-annual Twitter trend of #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay, which was created because Jackson was publicly punished for that infamous "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 halftime show, while Timberlake, who was also actively involved, emerged unscathed. As condemnations continue to come his way, Justin Timberlake just issued an apology statement to Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, and to his fans. Read on to see what he said, and for more on the "Toxic" singer's conservatorship, check out Britney Spears' Friend Lance Bass Is Demanding Answers About Her Father.
After watching Framing Britney Spears, many took to social media to call out Timberlake's behavior.
The documentary, which was released on Hulu and FX, explores how Spears has been a victim of sexism and other biases throughout her career, from mainstream media coverage that objectified her without shame to the way her mental health issues were sensationalized and turned into late-night talk show humor. It also focuses on Timberlake's relationship with her, including him boasting about their sex life to interviewers and, post-breakup, releasing a video for the song "Cry Me a River" that shows him getting revenge against a Spears lookalike after accusing her of cheating on him. For more context, Here's Why Everyone's Mad at Justin Timberlake Right Now.
And Jackson fans have been furious with him for years.
The double standard that exists for a white man like Timberlake and a Black woman like Jackson was widely discussed after the 2004 halftime show in which Timberlake partially exposed Jackson's breast. While Jackson was banned from the Super Bowl and that year's Grammys and has seemingly otherwise suffered professionally for the incident, Timberlake did attend that Grammys, headlined the halftime show alone in 2018, and did not publicly stand behind Jackson as she seemed to take all of the heat for their shocking performance.
Timberlake's association with both women also prompted people to share other times throughout his career where Timberlake has said or done something problematic.
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Timberlake knows that many have cast him as a villain in these stories.
In his Feb. 12 statement, posted to his Instagram, Timberlake began by acknowledging that he is well aware of the ongoing discussion and the anger around his actions. And then he launched into a lengthy apology:
"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," the singer writes. "I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and have benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism."
Then, he names the two women whose experiences kicked off this discussion, saying, "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."
Timberlake also says that his response was prompted "in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly, because this is a larger conversation that I wholeheartedly want to be part of and grow from…"
For another person who's speaking out for her, check out Britney Spears' Boyfriend Just Slammed Her Dad on Instagram.
Timberlake says he isn't "perfect" and recognizes he's benefited from white male privilege.
In the second page of his statement, Timberlake discussed the "flawed" system that is the entertainment industry. "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," he wrote. "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."
"I may not have been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career," Timberlake continued. "I know this apology is a first step and doesn't absolve the past. I want to take accountability for my own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports."
While the apology doesn't detail any specific changes Timberlake is planning on making or expand upon any other steps he's taking to make amends to Spears and Jackson, he did end it with a promise to improve.
"I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved," he said. "I can do better and I will do better."
For another recent social media dust-up, check out Star Wars Is Done With This Actor for Good After Anti-Semitic Posts.
The reaction to his statement has been mixed so far.
Friends and fans were quick to comment on Timberlake's post. Fellow artist Brandi Carlile wrote, "I can't wait to see how you get involved with elevating women and marginalized people. You're an inspiring dude to me."
More of his followers also praised Timberlake for taking responsibility and "a first step" towards making things right.
Some, however, remained unimpressed. "Be more specific!" a few commenters wrote, while others asked why it took the release of Spears' documentary and the most recent outcry for him to come forward with an apology. And several replies wanted to know whether he had approached Jackson and Spears privately as well.
For more fallout from the documentary, check out This Diane Sawyer Interview With Britney Spears Has People Outraged.