“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,” he wrote in part in an Instagram post on Friday. “I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.”
Timberlake added a specific apology to Spears and Jackson, writing: “I care for and respect these women and I know I failed.”
The singer began his statement by saying he has “seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns [pertaining to his past behaviour]” and wanted to respond. Later on in the statement, he broadened his comments to address the music industry in general.
“The industry is flawed,” he wrote. “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 recognise it for all 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.”
Timberlake came under criticism after the release of Framing Britney Spears for the way he acted following his breakup with Spears, with whom he was in a relationship between 1999 and 2002.
The documentary has sparked a larger reckoning about the treatment of Spears by the public and the media, as well as conversations about fame and mental health.
As for Jackson, Timberlake was performing with her during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show when an infamous wardrobe malfunction caused Jackson’s breast to briefly become exposed. Jackson seemed to suffer most of the backlash, with Timberlake facing a fraction of the blame and returning to perform at the Super Bowl for a solo halftime show in 2018.
In his apology on Friday, Timberlake added: “I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. I know this apology is a first step and doesn't absolve the past. I want to take accountability for my own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports.
“I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”
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