Justin Timberlake Britney Spears what did her do

You can like Justin Timberlake’s music and still think he owes Britney an apology

This man’s behaviour has been horrendous

Justin Timberlake is one of many villains in Britney Spears’ memoir The Woman In Me. During his three-year relationship with Britney he allegedly got her pregnant, she got an abortion because “Justin definitely wasn’t happy about the pregnancy”. And, when she lay on the floor “sobbing and screaming” over the excruciating pain of the secret at-home abortion he whipped out his guitar to try and comfort her. Justin reportedly cheated on Britney. She admits she, in turn, kissed her choreographer. And, ultimately, he ended their relationship with a two word text message (“It’s over!!!) and left her, once again, sobbing on the floor.

After their relationship ended, Justin released his hit track Cry Me A River – a song which paints him as the victim of her infidelity – complete with a music video featuring a Britney Spears look-a-like. He bragged about taking Britney’s virginity during live interviews to promote the song (“Oh man… okay I did it!”) to cheers and applause. She, meanwhile, put out Everytime, a song fans are now convinced is an apology to her unborn child.

When the documentary Framing Britney Spears was released in 2021, Justin was finally forced to face the backlash for some of this cruel and very public behaviour.  “I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond,” he said in a statement. “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 specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson [he ripped her top off and exposed her breast to an audience of thousands during their Super Bowl half time show in 2004] both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed,” he added, apologising for everything and nothing all at once.

Now Britney’s book has been released, the damning detail she explains every scenario with Justin makes his behaviour feel even worse. Yet, according to People, he’s in a “great place”. He’s “focusing on his own family” and trying to “grow and evolve instead of bringing up the past,” a source told Entertainment Tonight. Essentially, Justin Timberlake’s response has been not responding. It’s easy to say you don’t want to bring up the past when you’re the one who benefited from the misogyny of the early 2000s. But Justin very publicly humiliated and vilified Britney. So, he owes her a very public and specific apology.

The internet is now divided into people who are simply horrified at the suffering Britney writes she was subject to and the people who are such ’00s beat and clunky moonwalk apologists they just want Justin Timberlake to be left alone. The second group are screeching of the injustice of cancel culture. Claiming there are social statutes of limitations on how long you’re allowed to be pissed at someone’s shitty actions for. But there’s a middle ground somewhere here: Justin Timberlake acted like a dick. Señorita is still a really great song. You can like his music and think he owes Britney an apology. His songs were, in part, a success because of their relationship. And he should be prepared to acknowledge the pain he caused by profiting from that.

Recommended stories by this writer:

• Justin Timberlake to Colin Farrell: Every big revelation from Britney Spears’ book so far 

• Why Britney Spears fans think Everytime is about her abortion with Justin Timberlake

• The definitive ranking of Britney Spears music videos, based on how iconic they are

Featured image credit Paul Smith/Featureflash/Shutterstock