Almost two decades later, Justin Timberlake issued an apology to Janet Jackson over the infamous “Nipplegate” incident from the 2004 Super Bowl.
Timberlake’s apology was first directed to his former girlfriend Britney Spears, days after the release of a Hulu documentary centered around Spears’ treatment in the industry. Timberlake emerged as one of the central figures of critique along with journalist Diane Sawyer and Spears’ father, Jamie.
Written using his iPhone notes and shared to social media, Timberlake offered a response to the ongoing conversations stemming from the documentary.
“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,” he began.
“I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson 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…”
“The industry is flawed,” he continues. “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 recognize it for all that it 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.”
He concluded by saying he will dedicate his efforts to change and hopes his apology will be the first of many steps.
But on social media a moment of reflection was held for Jackson, who after their Super Bowl halftime show performance where her breast was exposed, was all but blacklisted from opportunities in the industry. Jackson’s career stalled after being one of the main contributors to pop culture, while Timberlake’s career flourished.
Over the past few years the hashtag #JanetJacksonAppreicationDay trended to coincide with the Super Bowl to acknowledge the erasure and mistreatment of Jackson, a Black woman who is one of the greatest entertainers of her generation.
Coincidentally, Black Twitter was less than pleased or appeased by Timberlake’s offering and shared their grievances, while Timberlake’s apology was applauded by his supporters.