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.
Just taking a moment to remember that this was actually Justin Timberlake’s take on Janet Jackson pic.twitter.com/eZ21QqlVT6
— Tim Hogan (@timjhogan) February 9, 2021
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.
Not an iPhone notes app apology when you or someone on your team has their phone numbers! CUT IT OUT!— SadéVision, Reporter (@SadeASpence) February 12, 2021
Janet Jackson got too many brothers for that white man to not have had his ass beat.— Taryn Finley (@_TARYNitUP) February 12, 2021
Y’all really bullied Justin Timberlake into apologizing to Britney and Janet omg. Bullying works!!!— mugatu (@tinnkky) February 12, 2021
ON SIGHT, Justin Timberlake. If we’re ever in the same zip code, know that I will have a spray can of guerilla glue in my purse. https://t.co/zoCQdDpVey— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) February 12, 2021
The intern for Justin Timberlake’s publicist that wrote his apology to Britney and Janet: pic.twitter.com/2YEbpyYHeb— ☆ 🌹 (@britmebaby) February 12, 2021
Justin Timberlake publicly apologizing to Britney Spears in 2021...... pic.twitter.com/cd1DqMIVeU— J 🌹 (@spearsweetie) February 12, 2021
Mercury retrograde in Aquarius exposing Diane Sawyer and Justin Timberlake in the Britney documentary is so on brand. What goes around definitely comes around.— Mx. Bronx (they/them) 🏳️🌈 (@TarotByBronx) February 12, 2021
i like the part where justin timberlake said "i have to be vocal about this" in his single notes app apology in two decades— Jill Gutowitz (@jillboard) February 12, 2021
Can we just talk about the fact Justin timberlake bragged about taking Britney Spears virginity and sold stories to magazines for front cover spreads blasting it and was applauded! If that was a woman doing it she would instantly be cancelled and branded a ‘slut’ #FreeBritney— A'WHORA (@awhoraofficial) February 9, 2021
Even if Britney Spears herself showed up to my doorstep wearing the original Oops I Did It Again catsuit begging me to forgive Justin Timberlake I’d tell her to mind her business— cody (@codyspearz) February 12, 2021
Justin Timberlake was actually at the forefront of a whole slut shaming campaign with Britney Spears during their break up. What makes it more insidious is this was occurring while the media was already over sexualizing her so again if you weren’t there just say that— Who is you, Chiron? (@NotLaja) February 12, 2021
Reading Justin Timberlake’s apology to Britney and Janet. pic.twitter.com/7nURJdTe0e— Khalid El Khatib (@kmelkhat) February 12, 2021