Justin Timberlake Apologizes To Britney Spears Following Conservatorship Exposure

The ‘Framing Britney Spears’ documentary has prompted a much larger discussion over how women in the industry are treated.

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After the New York Times documentary was released last week the public has been scrutinizing the industry, media, and multiple individuals within it that helped lead to the demise of Britney Spears and a slew of other successful women in the industry who were taken advantage of and used for profit. 

Justin Timberlake was one of many individuals who were called out online for his contribution to painting Spears as a mentally ill individual who needed to be controlled. Timberlake has since issued a public apology to both Spears and Janet Jackson, his co-performer at the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show; during which Timberlake famously ripped off Jackson’s blouse, exposing her breast, which led to her being blacklisted from the Super Bowl and scrutinized by the media for something she didn’t do. Timberlake has since been called out for racism and sexism following the exposure of his treatment of both women. 

Timberlake posted a statement to his Instagram in which he addressed the accusations and acknowledged his role in contributing to both female performers’ career demise: “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.”

“I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.” 

Framing Britney Spears is a 75-minute long documentary that was created by Hulu and the New York Times. The things exposed within that documentary have been public knowledge since 2007, however, they haven’t all been put into one place for the public to really see and take in before. The documentary has now not only exposed the mistreatment of Spears by her family and Hollywood, but created a much larger conversation over how women are treated in the industry in general, specifically back in the 90’s and early 2000’s. 

Spears’ legal conservatorship is an extremely complex issue that has caused a worldwide movement to free the pop star from her father’s control of her finances, estate, career, etc. The type of control her team and dad have over her is typically only found in individuals taking care of their elderly or mentally incapacitated family members who physically and mentally can’t handle being in control over their own finances, properties, etc. 

Spears has been under this control for over a decade now, meaning all of her social media posts, concerts, guest appearances on television shows, and business endeavors from 2008 up until this point were not her decision, and were instead things she was forced to do by her father and team to continue making money from the Britney Spears name. How is someone who is under the same conservatorship as an elderly individual with dementia able to do an entire Las Vegas residency for over three years?

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“The way people treated Britney, to be very high school about it, was like she was the school slut and Timberlake was the school quarterback.”

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Wesley Morris is a New York Times critic who was featured in the film and explained how the public sympathy for Timberlake back in the early 2000’s was a result of society placing misogynistic blame on a young girl for potentially cheating on her boyfriend and ending a very public relationship, and Timberlake himself for creating that narrative and using it to advance his own solo career following his split from NSync. 

“He essentially weaponized the ‘Cry Me A River’ music video for one of his singles to incriminate her in the demise of their relationship,” Morris said, referring to the music video in which Timberlake featured a Britney Spears lookalike who cheats on him in the video. 

“I need to apologize to Spears and Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women, and I know I failed.” Thinking back to the 2004 Super Bowl Timberlake faced literally no professional consequences for the “wardrobe malfunction” that led to Jackson receiving a slew of hate rooted in systemic misogyny and racism. 

Timberlake concluded that the music industry “sets men, especially white men, up for success. 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. I can do better and I will do better.”