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Britney Spears says ‘Cry Me a River’ media fallout portrayed her as a ‘harlot’ after Justin Timberlake split

‘A woman who looks like me cheats on him and he wanders around sad in the rain,’ Spears said of Timberlake’s 2002 music video for the track

Ellie Muir
Friday 20 October 2023 08:58 BST
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Jimmy Kimmel asks Christina Aguilera about Britney Spears's memoir

Britney Spears has said that the media fallout ignited by Justin Timberlake’s 2002 music video for his song “Cry Me a River” depicted her as a “harlot”.

The singer, 41, made the revelation in her forthcoming memoir, The Woman in Me, which will be released on 24 October. In an excerpt,Spears recalls the criticism that she faced when it was suggested in the press that Timberlake had written the heartbreak-themed song about her.

The two pop stars dated from 1998 to 2002 after meeting on the set of the All-New Mickey Mouse Club in 1992. Timberlake released “Cry Me a River”, the second single from his solo album debut Justified, in the same year that he and Spears split. The music video for the song – which featured a woman with blonde hair – sparked rumours that he and Spears had broken up because she cheated on him.

In her new memoir, in an excerpt obtained by The New York Times, Spears writes that the media attention that erupted in reaction to the video portrayed her as “a harlot who’d broken the heart of America’s golden boy”, when in reality, she recalls: “I was comatose in Louisiana, and he was happily running around Hollywood.”

In the song’s lyrics, Timberlake sings: “You don’t have to say, what you did/ I already know, I found out from him.”

Spears said that in the video, “a woman who looks like me cheats on him and he wanders around sad in the rain”.

Elsewhere in the memoir, Spears writes about her decision to get an abortion after she became pregnant while dating Timberlake.

“It was a surprise, but for me, it wasn’t a tragedy. I loved Justin so much. I always expected us to have a family together one day. This would just be much earlier than I’d anticipated” she wrote about the pregnancy.

“But Justin definitely wasn’t happy about the pregnancy. He said we weren’t ready to have a baby in our lives, that we were way too young.”

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Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake photographed in 2002 (Getty Images)

Spears appeared to imply that she decided to get an abortion because that was what Timberlake, then the frontman of boyband NSYNC, wanted her to do.

“I’m sure people will hate me for this, but I agreed not to have the baby. I don’t know if that was the right decision,” she wrote in the excerpt. “If it had been left up to me alone, I never would have done it. And yet Justin was so sure that he didn’t want to be a father.”

“To this day, it’s one of the most agonising things I have ever experienced in my life,” Spears said.

The Independent has contacted representatives for Timberlake and Spears for comment.

The Woman in Me will be released on 24 October.

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