The Framing Britney Spears documentary, while intent on deep diving into Spears’ rise to fame and how she ended up in a conservatorship, the New York Times Presents docu-series also looked at the singer’s breakup with Justin Timberlake and the way the former NSYNC member handled their 2002 breakup.
In light of the recent #FreeBritney movement, Timberlake has faced backlash for not just his mishandling of the fallout of his relationship with Spears, but for the actions following his appearance at the Super Bowl halftime show alongside Janet Jackson in 2004. In both instances, fans claim Timberlake actively took part in the destruction of both their character’s.
On February 12, Timberlake wrote an official apology to Spears for his misogynistic behaviour following their breakup in the early aughts, and also apologised to Jackson for his inaction in the wake of their controversial performance.
“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.”
He continued, “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.”
“The industry is flawed. It sets men, especially white men, up for success,” Timberlake continued. “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.”
Timberlake ended his message by promising that the apology was just his “first step” in his plans to take “accountability” for his “missteps.”
The singer’s wife, Jessica Biel, showed her support in the comments, writing, “I love you. ❤️”
Jackson responded to the apology via an emotional video message on Twitter.
“I was at home just the other day by myself and I began to cry. I was crying because I was so thankful for all that God has blessed me with,” she began in the video. “All that he has given me and I’m so thankful for him being in my life, and I’m so thankful for all of you being in my life.”
Following the release of the documentary, Jackson’s album Control has been topping the charts, and she thanked fans for their continued support.
“You’re so special to me and I want to thank all of you for making Control No. 1 once again after 35 years,” she said. “I never, never in a million years, I would never think that this would happen. I really appreciate you and I love you so, so much. Thank you.”
Spears is yet to publicly comment on the apology, but she did seemingly responded to the documentary on February 9. “Each person has their story and their take on other people’s stories !!!! We all have so many different bright beautiful lives,” she tweeted. “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.”