7. BuzzFeed: Should Justin Timberlake Apologize?
Yes, Justin Timberlake should apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson.
Framing Britney Spears, The New York Times-produced FX documentary, came out on the February 5. There has been increased conversation about the #freeBritney movement, which aims to liberate the singer from her father’s controlling court-ordered conservatorship, and there’s been more discussion about how Justin Timberlake used Britney to launch his solo career. I have not watched the documentary, but, as Scaachi Koul writes, it “focuses on who is to blame for Spears’ mental health issues and the conservatorship she seems to want to get out of, and the usual suspects are trotted out: her money-hungry father, ruthless paparazzi who wouldn’t give her a break, Diane Sawyer and her unspeakably cruel questions, society. But the internet does seem to agree on one particular villain: Britney Spears was failed by so many people, but no one did her worse than Justin Timberlake.” The two singers dated from 1999 to 2002, and the lead single from his debut album, Cry Me a River, “seemed to be all about Spears cheating on him, made worse by a music video featuring a Spears lookalike.”
As Koul explains in this essay, Timberlake has a pattern of “shirking off any responsibility while watching — or promoting — the ruthless slut-shaming, of two women,” as the singer received almost no blame for exposing Janet Jackson’s breast during their 2004 Super Bowl halftime performance—something that Jackson’s career still hasn’t recovered from. Timberlake did post an apology on Instagram, but it’s too little too late, and, at this point, probably won’t affect his career.