'Britney Spears and Janet Jackson deserved a better apology from Justin Timberlake'

'I can do better and I will do better'

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'I can do better and I will do better'

Justin Timberlake finally issued a public apology this week for 'failing' Britney Spears and Janet Jackson in not speaking up for what was right all those years ago.

‘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,' Timberlake explained in an Instagram statement. '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 apologise to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed.'

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The public apology to Britney comes after Hulu's Framing Britney Spears documentary earlier this month, which analysed how differently Britney and Justin were treated by the media during their relationship and after their split.

While Justin's career took off, Britney was branded a cheater and laughed at, something that undoubtedly negatively impacted her career.

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Justin's apology to Janet Jackson on the other hand addresses their controversial 2004 Super Bowl performance, where 17 years ago during their joint performance in the Halftime Show, a wardrobe malfunction caused him to expose Janet Jackson's breast on stage.

Once again, Justin's reputation was left intact, whereas Janet Jackson was demonised. Her songs were banned from the radio and her invitation to the 2004 Grammys was revoked, while Justin was not only able to attend but also won the award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

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'Everyone involved deserves better,' Justin stated this week, explaining that he wholeheartedly wants to be part of and grow from this larger conversation.

'The industry is flawed,' he continued. '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 recognise 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.'

He concluded: '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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The internet has been divided over its reception of the apology.

Many have been coming out in force to praise the 40-year-old singer for admitting his mistakes, but others have been quick to argue that Britney and Janet deserved more than to be lumped together in a post that took 17 years to make. And I have to admit, while Justin Timberlake has now done the right thing, I have to agree.

'It’s just so painfully obvious that the only reason this apology is here is because of the documentary. Where have you been for 17 years? At least it’s a start, and I hope you apologized to both Britney and Janet privately,' one Instagram user commented on Justin's post.

Another wrote: 'This response is frustrating. Saying "I benefited from a system that perpetrates misogyny" is not the same as saying "I was misogynistic in the career I created for myself at the expense of these women.” The vilification of Britney and Janet didn’t just happen because you remained silent, you took part in that and that’s what you should probably acknowledge and do so specifically.'

Referencing the recent Framing Britney documentary, one wrote: 'I find apologies more genuine when they are the result of self reflection not pressure as a result of negative feedback from a documentary that called you out.

'Hope you’re reaching out to them personally too and not just doing this as a PR stunt,' posted another.

Justin Timberlake was definitely right to apologise, but it's not enough. We still can and must do better.

Let us know where you stand.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.