Artist News

Justin Timberlake apologises to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson

By | Published on Monday 15 February 2021

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake has apologised to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson for failing to support them in situations that allowed him to benefit from “a system that condones misogyny and racism”.

Timberlake spoke out following the recent airing of US TV documentary ‘Framing Britney Spears’, in which he comes in for criticism. He and Spears dated between 1999 and 2002, of course, while he was still a member of the boyband N*Sync.

“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond”, he wrote on Instagram. “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”, he goes on. “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”.

Among the various appearances of Timberlake that feature in the documentary, one aims to show how he and Spears were treated differently after they split.

Spears had previously said that she was waiting until marriage to lose her virginity, although in a radio interview Timberlake revealed that they had slept together. While Timberlake suffered no consequences for this, it was one of many things used to attack Spears – she being subsequently told by journalist Diane Sawyer that she had “disappointed a lot of mothers”.

In the case of Janet Jackson, the apology relates to her Super Bowl half time performance in 2004. Timberlake guested, of course, and during the performance was involved in the “wardrobe malfunction” that exposed her breast mid-show.

Following the outrage that that incident caused, Jackson was barred from performing at the Super Bowl ever again, and was even uninvited from that year’s Grammy Awards. Timberlake, meanwhile, went on to headline the Super Bowl half time show himself in 2018, and not only retained his invite to the 2004 Grammys but was able to use one of his acceptance speeches to apologise for the incident. He generally avoided criticism in the media too, despite initially making light of the incident.

Continuing his new statement, Timberlake says: “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”, he concludes. “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”.

As well as looking at her treatment in the media leading up to a much-publicised breakdown in 2007, ‘Framing Britney Spears’ also delves into the conservatorship Spears has been placed under since 2008 – leaving her unable to control her own personal and financial affairs.

Her father was given that control under the conservatorship, though his ongoing role has been subject to legal action over the last year. Last week, the court overseeing the case gave co-conservator the Bremmer Trust equal power of decision making. Ultimately, Britney is hoping to have her father removed from the running of her affairs entirely.