Justin Timberlake Apologizes to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson

"I know I failed.”

On Friday, Justin Timberlake apologized for his misogynistic handling of his 2002 breakup with Britney Spears, which was highlighted in the New York Times’ earth-shattering documentary “Framing Britney Spears.” In a statement posted to Instagram, Timberlake apologized directly to Britney and Janet Jackson, the latter of whom suffered from a Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction during their joint halftime show in 2004, which derailed her career but left Timberlake unscathed.

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. 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 apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed.”

britney spears justin timberlake of nsync photo by jeffrey mayerwireimage

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at the the 28th Annual American Music Awards in 2001.

(Image credit: Jeffrey Mayer)

The documentary has forced a long-overdue reckoning on the system that elevated Britney to stardom while exerting an unreasonable amount of control over her life and image. From the sexist media machine that lasciviously peered into Britney’s personal life to our collective ignorance about mental health struggles, no figure emerged from the documentary unscathed. In the fallout, fans and stars alike have shared messages of support while demanding accountability from those who harmed the pop singer.

One such figure is Justin Timberlake, who dated Britney for three years until the duo split in 2002. In the aftermath of their breakup, the media portrayed Britney as the harlot who broke Timberlake’s heart, with even Diane Sawyer going so far to say that Britney caused him “so much pain, so much suffering.” Timberlake, on the other hand, profited from their breakup, boasted about his sexual exploits with Britney on the radio, and used his “pain” as fodder for his hit song “Cry Me A River.”

Read the full statement below.

Zoe Guy

Zoe Guy is the digital fellow at Marie Claire, where she covers pop culture, hot celebrity gossip, movies and TV. She’s obsessed with Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of The Age of Innocence, anything written by Jesmyn Ward and stan Twitter.