The criticism against the singer/actor, in part, has been revived by the release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears, a co-production of the New York Times and FX. In it, Timberlake’s former relationship with Spears—and his actions after it ended—are pointed to as a crucial element in what became a widespread villainization of the pop icon.
“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond. 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,” Timberlake wrote on Friday. “I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.”
He continued: “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. 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 a part of and grow from.”
Timberlake went on to say the industry itself is “flawed,” noting it sets men (“especially white men”) up for success by design. “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 recognize 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.”
See his full statement below:
Back in 2004, Timberlake and Jackson performed together during the Super Bowl halftime show in Houston, Texas. The performance famously included a moment during which Timberlake pulled some fabric from Jackson’s stage attire to reveal one of her breasts with a nipple shield, which—though it most certainly shouldn’t have—quickly became a massive controversy.
Jackson, unfairly, was made the face of the ensuing controversy and was essentially blacklisted by Viacom while Timberlake emerged unscathed.
As pointed out by E! News, Jackson herself considered the fallout unfair, telling Oprah Winfrey during a 2006 interview “they did put all the emphasis on me as opposed to us.”
Timberlake wrapped his new apology post by saying, “I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. 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.”
Framing Britney Spears, directed by Samantha Stark, is out now on Hulu. Below, catch the trailer:
In a recent IG post, Spears—though she did not specifically mention the Framing doc—seemingly referenced its release.
“Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person’s life, it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens,” she said.