On Friday (Feb. 12), the 40-year-old singer and actor publicly apologized on Instagram to ex-girlfriend Britney Spears and former Super Bowl halftime show collaborator Janet Jackson for his past “ignorance” and benefitting “from a system that condones misogyny and racism.”
Biel showed her support in the comments section of her husband’s lengthy post, writing, “I love you,” followed by a red heart emoji. The couple, which married in 2012, have two sons, 5-year-old Silas and new baby Phineas.
Timberlake’s apology also received support from fellow singer Brandi Carlile. “Really beautiful to read this,” she commented on the post. “I think it’s going to speak to a lot of people’s pain. I can’t wait to see how you get involved with elevating women and marginalized people. you’re an inspiring dude to me.”
Timberlake issued the apology in response to criticism he received online following the early February premiere of the The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears on FX and Hulu. In the documentary, the then 21-year-old “Better Days” singer is seen joking in interviews about the couple’s sex life amid their highly publicized split in 2002. The film also touches on the casting of a Britney lookalike for the music video of his breakup anthem “Cry Me a River.”
“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,” Timberlake wrote in his apology. “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.”
Framing Britney Spears is mostly focused on dissecting the strict conservatorship Spears has been under since 2008. The doc also delves into the often sexist way the media and popular culture treated the singer in the early 2000s, especially the often-cruel judgement and harassment she faced at a time when she was reportedly suffering from mental health issues.
In addition to his past behavior toward Spears, Timberlake has also received backlash for seemingly getting a pass in the wake of the fallout from his Super Bowl halftime performance with Jackson in 2004, where he exposed his co-star’s breast on live television.
In the wake of the Super Bowl incident, which was deemed a “wardrobe malfunction,” Jackson was uninvited from the Grammy Awards and her videos were pulled from properties like MTV, CBS and Infinity Broadcasting. Timberlake, meanwhile, not only appeared at the Grammys, but was allowed to issue an apology at the event, and then went on to headline the Super Bowl halftime show in 2018, while Jackson has never been invited back.
“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,” Timberlake concluded his post. “I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”