Of the many, many people who come off looking pretty bad in the New York Times’ Britney Spears documentary Framing Britney, Justin Timberlake has received the most followup attention online. The documentary contains some fairly startling contrasts between how the media palled around with Timberlake in the early ’00s while excoriating Spears. The public unquestionably accepted Timberlake’s version of the couple’s hugely publicized breakup, which painted Spears as a two-timing cheater. That narrative resurrected another conversation: Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s divergent careers following the infamous Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.”
Now, Timberlake has taken to social media to apologize to his fans, Jackson and his ex-girlfriend Spears.
“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments and concerns and I want to respond,” he wrote. “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 apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed.”
In 2002, “Cry Me a River” became Timberlake’s biggest solo hit to date, a vicious kiss-off to a cheating ex which pretty much everyone understood to be Spears. Those suspicions were all but confirmed in the music video, which starred a duplicitous dead ringer for Britney.
And then in 2004, during the Super Bowl Halftime Show, Timberlake appeared to “accidentally” rip off part of Jackson’s costume, exposing her breast. In the immediate backlash, Jackson took the brunt of the blame and, in some ways, her career never regained its full height. Timberlake’s was just getting started, however, and he went on to become the biggest pop star in the world, frequently crediting Michael Jackson as his primary inspiration even as Jackson’s sister’s career was reeling from actions in which Timberlake at least played a role.
“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,” Timberlake’s post concluded.
You can read the whole thing here.