Following the Feb. 5 release of The New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears, renewed calls for Spears' ex Justin Timberlake to apologize to Spears have mounted. The documentary, which examines Spears' history of being hounded by the press amid her personal challenges and her ongoing court battle for control of her estate, delved into Timberlake's long-criticized behavior toward Spears. Now, the former *NSYNC member is finally addressing the criticism and taking the opportunity to apologize to another woman he wronged in the process. Still, Justin Timberlake's apology to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson is getting mixed reviews.
Framing Britney Spears highlighted multiple instances in which Timberlake wronged Spears, including the time he made casual remarks about his and Spears' private sexual life during a 2002 radio interview and the time he implied Spears cheated on him in his single "Cry Me A River". As demands for Timberlake to finally acknowledge his bad behavior toward Spears flooded in, others added Janet Jackson to the list of women he owed an apology to.
Timberlake infamously exposed Jackson's breast at the end of their 2004 Super Bowl halftime show performance due to a wardrobe malfunction. While Jackson bore the brunt of criticism and backlash over what audiences at the time deemed indecent exposure (some networks blacklisted Jackson and her music), Timberlake remained silent and emerged from the scandal relatively unscathed.
On Friday, Feb. 12, Timberlake released a statement on Instagram, finally addressing the criticism over his behavior toward Spears and Jackson after nearly 20 years.
“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," he began his post. "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."
Timberlake went on to acknowledge that the music industry is set up to benefit white men and that he wants to be more vocal to combat that reality moving forward. "Because of my ignorance, I didn't recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life," he wrote.
While some fans in Timberlake's Instagram comment section were receptive to his apology, others flooded to Twitter to say it was too little and far too late. Some found it too generic, while others called it a PR stunt to deflect criticism in the wake of Framing Britney Spears' release.
At the end of Timberlake's post, he wrote, "I can do better and I will do better." Fans hope he makes good on that promise, and they will be sure to take him to task if he doesn't.