Justin Timberlake, who famously dated Britney Spears, responded to the backlash he’s received following the Framing Britney Spears documentary from the New York Times that debuted on FX and Hulu last week. It also comes in the context of an ongoing legal case between Spears and her father, in which the singer seeks to regain control of her finances.
Spears and Timberlake met when they were cast on The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1992. They dated from 1999-2002. After the spit, Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” seemed to blame Spears for their breakup. The music video featured an actress who looked a lot like Spears.
In an Instagram post Friday morning, Timberlake wrote in part, “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 went on: “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 was, of course, part of Jackson’s 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that included what became known as a “wardrobe malfunction.”
Timberlake and Jackson apologized for the incident. The Federal Communications Commission hit CBS with a $550,000 fine.
Timberlake’s message goes on to a second page where the singer speaks more broadly about the music industry. “The industry is flawed,” he wrote. “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.”
The singer called the apology “a first step.”
“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,” he said. “I care deeply about the well-being of the people I love and have loved.”
“I can do better and I will do better,” he promised.
Framing Britney Spears has sparked a rolling social media conversation over the past week. On Monday, Twitter users praised Craig Ferguson for publicly refusing to shame the troubled Spears back in the day.
There has also been renewed scrutiny of the media’s treatment of Spears. On Tuesday, users began reposting an interview Diane Sawyer did with a 21-year-old Spears and calling on Sawyer to apologize. Part of this interview is featured in Framing Britney Spears.
I think it's clear that @DianeSawyer owes Britney Spears an apology.
By the way, Britney was 21-years-old when this interview was filmed. #FreeBritney
(More footage here than was shown in the documentary) pic.twitter.com/xdwlSSXz0n
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 9, 2021
Another clip featuring none other than Matt Lauer was also called out. In it, Lauer asks a 24-year-old, pregnant Spears if she’s worried her boyfriend will leave her.
It's just insane that many of us accepted this sort of framing & questioning.
Britney Spears was a 24-year-old pop star, not a government official.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 12, 2021
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