Justin Timberlake Apologizes to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson: ‘I Failed’

In the wake of accusations of sexism and misogyny against Justin Timberlake regarding his treatment of former girlfriend Britney Spears, and the “wardrobe malfunction” with Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl in 2004, he has apologized to both in an Instagram post.

“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 both cases, his apology reaches back nearly 20 years: He and Spears dated when both were teen stars, and during that time he said publicly that he had slept with her (she’d claimed she was waiting until she was married), and later vaguely accused her of cheating on him — a narrative that played out in the video for his 2002 song “Cry Me a River,” which featured an actress who resembled Spears. This situation resurfaced recently in the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary, which focuses on the conservatorship she has been under since 2008 but more broadly addresses the sexist and judgmental way she has been treated by the media and others throughout her career.

The Super Bowl scandal revolves around what Timberlake described as a “wardrobe malfunction,” in which he pulled back part of Jackson’s outfit and exposed her breast. While the situation was never fully explained, Jackson bore the brunt of the criticism, while Timberlake — who was the one who pulled back her garment — managed to dodge responsibility and went on to become one of the world’s biggest music stars in the following years. By contrast, Jackson’s career took a serious hit in popularity and public opinion, and in many ways it never fully recovered.

Timberlake’s post concludes: “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.”



A post shared by Justin Timberlake (@justintimberlake)


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