Over the last week, Justin Timberlake has the subject of much discussion for how built and bolstered his career off of his mistreatment of his ex-girlfriend Britney Spears after their breakup (accusing her of cheating in “Cry Me a River,” etc.) and Super Bowl 2004 co-headliner Janet Jackson, after he exposed her nipple on camera during the performance and let her take the most blame for it. Renewed scrutiny of Timberlake happened online and in the media following the release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears earlier this month.
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Now, over 15 years after both incidents occurred and days after Timberlake’s treatment first got renewed attention, Timberlake is ready to apologize. The singer posted an Instagram statement where he acknowledged his culpability and participation in “a system that condones misogyny and racism.” He went on to directly apologize to Spears and Jackson, while also admitting that “I know this apology is a first step and doesn’t absolve the past.”
You can read his full statement below:
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.
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.
I also feel compelled to respond, in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly, because this is a larger conversation that I wholeheartedly want to be part of and grow from…
The industry is flawed. 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.
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 own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports.
I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.
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News and Strategy Editor Alyssa Bailey is the news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton).
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