Almost two decades after their controversial breakup, singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake has issued a public apology to his former girlfriend Britney Spears, as well as singer Janet Jackson.
Timberlake’s statement came after the release of The New York Times documentary titled Framing Britney Spears that caused a stir on how he treated the pop superstar during and after their relationship.
The documentary showed archive clips of his interviews discussing his sex life with the singer some 20 years ago when both of them were at the peak of their careers.
“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 the condones misogyny and racism,” he wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday, Feb. 12.
“I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care and respect for these women and I know I failed,” he said.
Timberlake and Spears dated for three years before splitting up in 2002. During the course of their highly publicized relationship, Spears was being probed over her virginity, while Timberlake said that he “did it” with her over the radio.
On the year of their breakup, the *NSYNC member topped the Billboard charts with his song “Cry Me a River” that came with a music video featuring a Spears look-alike, implying that she cheated on him. "You don't have to say what you did. I already know. I found out from him," he wrote on the lyrics.
Timberlake was also held liable for Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show when he pulled off a part of her outfit and exposed her right breast.
“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,” Timberlake admitted in his public apology.
“The industry is flawed. It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It is designed this way,” he continued. “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 even benefit from others being pulled down again.”
He added, “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 well-being of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”