Fans on Twitter have turned on Justin Timberlake after ‘Framing Britney Spears’, the explosive FX documentary made by the New York Times, shed light on his complicated relationships with Britney Spears and Janet Jackson.
The documentary alleges that following the end of Timberlake and Spears’ relationship, Justin “weaponized” public perception of Britney’s fidelity in “a pure male revenge fantasy.” The film draws attention to Timberlake’s 2002 music video ‘Cry Me a River’, which shows the ex-NSYNC frontman getting revenge on a Britney Spears lookalike.
Spears’ 2003 interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer is also explored in the documentary, wherein Spears is grilled over cheating rumors following Timberlake’s video. Sawyer asks Spears in the interview: “He’s going on television looking pretty upset. You broke his heart, you did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?”
A 2003 radio interview between Justin and Hot 97 FM was also mentioned, wherein Timberlake and the presenters joked about him “f***ing” his ex. Britney later said in her interview with Sawyer that the radio comments made her feel “violated.”
TOTALLY UNEXPECTED: Justin Timberlake getting backlash as people react to new “Framing Britney Spears” doc. Doc shows how people profited from Britney’s successes and failures, manufacturing narratives suiting their purposes while silencing her. pic.twitter.com/VEvLXxgg17
— Def Noodles (@defnoodles) February 6, 2021
Following the documentary’s airing on Friday, February 5, Timberlake began to trend on Twitter, with fans demanding that he take accountability for his actions. One fan said: “I’m glad that the Britney documentary begins to reckon with the idea of how much of Justin Timberlake’s career in the aughts came at the expense of women like Britney”
Another fan praised the documentary for exploring allegations into Justin’s behaviour, saying: “Justin Timberlake is just starting to trend, people are shocked to discover how much they didn’t know… like how he cheated on her initially, and how he told everyone about their private life. He has never apologized for this.”
Other fans felt that his messy breakup with Britney wasn’t the only thing Timberlake had to answer for, with several of them re-evaluating his involvement in Janet Jackson’s infamous SuperBowl nip-slip in 2004. One Twitter user went as far as arguing that “the ascent of Justin Timberlake in the wreckage of both Britney Spears and Janet Jackson is really something we [as a culture] have to answer for.”
What is the #FreeBritney movement?
‘Framing Britney Spears’ was commissioned after a movement by Britney Spears’ most loyal fans to get her out of her conservatorship begun to grow in momentum.
Following her public breakdown in 2008, Britney has been under a conservatorship led by her father, Jamie Spears. A conservatorship is where a judge appoints an individual or organization to care for another adult who is deemed unfit to care for themselves or to manage their own finances. This means that for the last thirteen years, Jamie has been in control of Britney’s finances and several other aspects of her life.
Fans have long-believed that Britney is under this conservatorship against her will. In a statement on the Free Britney website, which was founded in 2009, the group questioned whether Spears was truly incapable of caring for herself: “During the twelve years of Spears’ conservatorship she has repeatedly toured the world, released multiple albums, and worked on a variety of television shows,” the statement reads.
— Britney Fan 🌹 (@BritneyHiatus) September 16, 2020
“Her conservators decide whether or not she works, as she cannot enter into contracts for herself because she is legally not her own person. Britney Spears needs permission from her conservators to leave her house or spend any of her own money.”
Rumors that Spears was under the conservatorship against her will reached fever pitch in August 2020, where court documents obtained by People magazine revealed that Britney did not want her father to return as her conservator after he temporarily stepped down due to ill health.
In a court battle to remove her father as her conservator in November, Spears’ lawyer also revealed that the popstar fears her father and will not let her perform while he remains her conservator.
‘Framing Britney Spears’ can be streamed online via Hulu.