Framing Britney Spears is a New York Times documentary that premiered on FX and Hulu last week and has since caused plenty of uproar. One of the main targets has been Justin Timberlake and the role he played in Spears’ troubles when the two dated from 1999-2002. Because of this backlash, the popular singer/actor has offered an apology, but not only to Spears, but to Janet Jackson as well.
Justin Timberlake’s apology was one he posted to his Instagram account and was lengthy, but heartfelt, though many have questioned whether Timberlake would have offered such an apology if the relationship between Spears and Timberlake hadn’t been scrutinized in the documentary.
The two met when they were both cast on The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1992. Of the time spent on the show, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were part of three episodes together, which helped forge their romantic involvement seven years later. Justin Timberlake was part of the band NSYNC while the two dated, but when things went south in 2002, Timberlake penned and recorded a song Cry Me A River, where he hired a Britney Spears lookalike for the video, one in which Timberlake seemed to accuse Spears of their breakup.
The heat Justin Timberlake has received from Framing Britney Spears appears to have moved him to react. You can read his entire apology above in his Instagram post.
Justin Timberlake’s apology toward Janet Jackson stems from the highly controversial 2004 Super Bowl halftime show where the two were performing on stage when the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” aka “Nipplegate” occurred. The “malfunction” happened while Timberlake and Jackson were singing “Rock Your Body”. During the song, Timberlake reached out, grabbing Jackson’s top, ripping it down, briefly exposing her sunburst nipple-covered right breast. A right breast that 140 million viewers were able to see.
The outrage came swift and from many directions. Ultimately, the FCC levied a $550,000 fine against CBS, but that was eventually overturned with the courts saying that the network hadn’t been given sufficient notice of what constituted as indecency.
Both Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson apologized after the incident, but Jackson was the one who continued to take the brunt of the negative publicity, something which Timberlake never backed her on. Seems 17 years later, having a little bit of time to think about it, he feels he finally needs to apologize.
Justin Timberlake isn’t the only one feeling the heat from the Framing Brittney Spears documentary. Diane Sawyer is another. During a 2003 interview with Spears, Sawyer told Spears that she has “disappointed a lot of mothers.” Matt Lauer is another who is being called out because of the documentary. In it, he can be seen in an interview with the then-pregnant 24-year-old Spears asking her if she is worried her boyfriend will leave her.
According to Framing Britney Spears producer-director Samantha Stark, she told Variety that they never approached Justin Timberlake for any comment on his treatment of Spears. His Instagram post was done all on his own. “We didn’t ask Justin Timberlake for comment, just like we didn’t ask a number of other people who appear in archival footage for comment,” she said. “Interviewees make points about the media coverage surrounding the breakup … Unlike other people who we did ask for comment, we don’t make any allegations against Justin. We simply let the footage play.”
Much of the Spears’ documentary revolves around the pop singer’s court battles with her father who, since 2008, has been under a conservatorship led by Jamie Spears, something that the pop star has been trying to reclaim. Justin Timberlake’s involvement is but a small (or large, depending on how one sees it) part of her sad story.