In the wake of all the chatter surrounding the FX documentary Framing Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake has reached out with an apology to Britney Spears for his role in the chaos of her life. But does Timberlake’s apology show true growth, or is it lip service? The internet is divided over the singer/songwriter’s apology.
Framing Britney Spears
FX and The New York Times teamed up for the latest installment of the Times’ series, The New York Times Presents. The documentary revisits the path that led to Spears’ conservatorship, wherein her father gained total legal control over her finances and decision-making in her life. A conservatorship is often established in cases where a person is incapable of making their own decisions. Fans have long questioned the validity of Spears’ conservatorship, suggesting that her father had it implemented and maintained in order to benefit form her significant financial empire. Spears often performs grueling set lists and has made years of public appearances with normal-seeming behavior. So if a person is able to handle herself normally in public and keep up such a grueling schedule, why is she in need of a conservator? The #FreeBritney movement asks just that. An online movement that delves into the details of Spears’ conservatorship and looks for signs from the star that she’s asking for help to get out from under her father’s thumb, #FreeBritney succeeded in at least forcing the courts to take another look at the case.
It’s amidst this environment that the Framing Britney Spears docuseries was released. It revisted Spears’ public mental breakdowns, and how those around her and the media systematically worked together to disempower control over her own image, and how late night show hosts gleefully turned her mental health struggles into fodder for their audiences.
Reactions online seem to agree that it’s time to revisit Spears’ conservatorship and make sure this is all necessary, and hold accountable the people who contributed to the chaos in her life. So far, this includes her peers, family, and the media.
Timberlake Apologizes to Spears – and Janet Jackson!
In the wake of the uproar following the Framing Britney Spears docuseries, singer and songwriter Justin Timberlake has now issued an apology to both Spears and Janet Jackson. The Hollywood Reporter explains, “The doc specifically features a section about how Timberlake was seemingly able to control the media narrative about his relationship and then break up with Spears, meaning he walked away unscathed and she was shamed.
‘I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond,’ he began, referencing the backlash from Spears fans that has been directed at him and others in the wake of the doc. ‘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 continued, ‘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.’”
But Instagram and Twitter have had mixed reactions to the apology. Criticism includes the fact that Timberlake didn’t directly own individual mistakes. Others questioned whether or not Timberlake even wrote the statement, suggesting that it’s 20 years too late.
Media Forced to Reckon With Coverage that Contributed to Spears’ Troubles
It’s not just Timberlake forced to look in the mirror and own their malignant parts in Spears’ life. The New York Times wrote an article exploring the role of the media, including their own, in stripping Spears of self-determination and painting her as unstable and worth only the laughs or shock they could squeeze from her daily life.
The Times shares, “Dax Holt, who was a producer at TMZ for over a decade and now co-hosts a podcast about Hollywood, said that he doesn’t necessarily blame the media for Spears’s breakdown but rather an American public that had an incessant curiosity for all things Britney. Still, Holt, who used to sift through paparazzi photos of Spears in his time at TMZ, said it made him sad to watch the documentary and see all that Spears had to endure.
‘I can’t even imagine what it would be like being a focal point of the world’s attention for so many years,’ he said. ‘One little misstep and the whole world is laughing at you.’”
Late night hosts have also been under the microscope, recalling a 2007 intro where Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson said he could no longer mock Spears for laughs because it made him too sad. Leading to the question – what took everyone else so long? Did it really take a docuseries peeling back the past to revisit how horribly Spears was treated to see their behavior as problematic?
The answer is sadly – apparently so.
Some Good May Come From the Raw and Emotional Documentary
For a long time, it was only #FreeBritney fans drawing attention to Spears’ plight. Now that her struggle has been made more mainstream, it’s possible that she will regain some more autonomy over her life – or at least be able to oust her father, who critics say she fears.
NBC News writes, “Britney Spears filed a petition with the court last year to remove her father and to place a financial institution as the sole conservator over her estate. Her attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, argued last year that the singer was afraid of James ‘Jamie’ Spears and would rather a professional financial institution take over her estate.” Jamie tried to fight back against the co-conservatorship, wanting to reclaim total control.
A judge ruled against him on Thursday, expecting the co-conservatorship team of Jamie and Bessamer Trust to work together on financial decisions for Spears. There will be another hearing next month and Jamie is expected to continue to try to wrest back control.
Spears herself has only made one statement since the documentary aired, and THR shares, “Seemingly referring to the project, Spears wrote, ‘Each person has their story and their take on other people’s stories !!!! We all have so many different bright beautiful lives !!! Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person’s life it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens!!!!'”