The release of ‘Framing Britney Spears’, a brand new documentary about the singer, alongside social media outrage has now forced Justin Timberlake to apologise for his cowardly and questionable actions of yesteryear.
In a statement Timberlake said:
“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond. 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. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.
I specifically want to apologise to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed. I also feel compelled to respond, 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.
The industry is flawed. 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 recognise 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 have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. 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. I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”
Justin and Britney dated each other in the early noughties and it was a time when the media developed an unhealthy fixation in regards to Britney’s sex life. Was a young Britney still a virgin? Was Justin having sex with Britney? Not long after the couple broke up, Timberlake went out of his way to give the impression, visually and musically, that Spears had been unfaithful and revealed during a live radio interview that he did have sex with her. Problematic times…
Then came the Janet Jackson fiasco. Jackson’s career suffered greatly after her infamous Halftime Super Bowl performance with Timberlake, in 2004. During a very high energy dance routine, Timberlake ripped Jackson’s top, exposing her breast and nipple ring, for less than a second. Despite issuing countless apologies for the “wardrobe malfunction”, Jackson was banned from the 2004 Grammy Awards and MTV, the producer behind the halftime show, stopped airing her videos.
Timberlake apologised for the incident but failed to defend Jackson against the intense backlash she was receiving. People also seemed to conveniently forget that he was the one who pulled her top, which exposed her breast. Nonetheless, Timberlake attended the Grammys that same year and went on to make hit records with super-producer TIMBALAND. While his solo career THRIVED under Timbo’s wing, Jackson, ICON and LEGEND, was effectively banished into the wilderness. Damita Jo, released that same year, was her lowest-selling album in 20 years.
MTV and Infinity Broadcasting enforced a blacklist of Jackson’s singles and music videos on many radio formats and music channels worldwide. This would go on to have a long-lasting impact on her career for years to come.