After years of criticism, Justin Timberlake is apologizing.
On Friday, the pop star shared a statement on Instagram apologizing to both Britney Spears and Janet Jackson for his past behaviour toward them.
The apology comes amid recent backlash generated by the documentary “Framing Britney Spears”, in which Timberlake is criticized for his 2002 “Cry Me a River” video, inspired by his acrimonious split from the “Baby One More Time” singer and vaguely accusing her of cheating.
“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond,” Timberlake 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.”
He continued, “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 2004, Timberlake infamously performed with Jackson, at one point pulling off a part of her outfit revealing her dress in what was described as a “wardrobe malfunction.” While Jackson was treated harshly for the incident, Timberlake was largely left alone, and did not take responsibility, as depicted in the documentary.
“The industry is flawed,” Timberlake said in his statement. “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 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.”
The singer went on, “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 missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports.”
Finally, Timberlake wrote, “I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”
Timberlake’s wife, “The Sinner” star Jessica Biel, reacted to her husband’s apology, commenting on his post, “I love you ❤️.”
On Twitter, reaction to Timberlake’s apology was mixed.
I am sure that Timberlake was guided by bad people in his early career, but to act like his treatment of Britney in particular was something that just ~happened~ to him that he wasn't aware of is pretty noxious https://t.co/UuYc70qmsz
— Laura Snapes (@laurasnapes) February 12, 2021
justin timberlake finally apologizing to britney and janet isn't something that i'd think see happen. pic.twitter.com/3FwMfjDmPL
— Openly Black-ish And Racially Ambiguous (@Connichameleon2) February 12, 2021
ON SIGHT, Justin Timberlake. If we’re ever in the same zip code, know that I will have a spray can of guerilla glue in my purse. https://t.co/zoCQdDpVey
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) February 12, 2021
lol, justin timberlake take your trolls song money and cry me a river pic.twitter.com/vonnyE7g8T
— alex (@alex_abads) February 12, 2021
It’s kind of indicative of how thoroughly fucked we are as a culture that you can accurately appraise the quality of apologies—also, Justin Timberlake’s apology sucks
— Larry Fitzmaurice (@lfitzmaurice) February 12, 2021