The New York Times released a documentary on Hulu this past weekend called Framing Britney Spears, and it’s stirred up a lot of history that’s not too far in the past.
A movement called #FreeBritneySpears has been building up online for years, based on the belief that Spears is being held against her will in a conservatorship controlled by her father.
Conservators are generally assigned to people who have mental health issues, like dementia or developmental problems, and cannot manage their affairs.
As the doc points out, Spears was put under her dad's charge when she was likely experiencing postpartum depression and extreme harassment from the press. Since then, she has worked and performed at a high level—she can clearly manage her own affairs.
Though I personally lived through Britney Spears' ascent and downfall, watching all of the press coverage of her at the time cut together really shows what a tough time she had in a new light.
A lot has changed in 15 years, but people are unhappy one thing hasn't changed: Justin Timberlake is still out there.
Part of the doc covers how Timberlake's relationship with Spears was weaponized by him for clout. His popular music video for "Cry Me a River" featured a Spears lookalike.
He jokes on a radio program that he slept with Spears, though she publicly said she was a virgin. Diane Sawyer ended up interrogating her about it on television.
Yes, the words "Hey...at least he got into Britney's pants" was a thing written on the cover of a magazine to promote Timberlake. It's gross. And people are talking about it:
This bit of pop culture exploration coincided with Super Bowl Sunday. The Super Bowl is a time when some people bring up once again that Janet Jackson performed with Justin Timberlake in 2004. At the end of their performance, he tore at her costume, and her entire breast was exposed.
Again, I remember this! And it seemed deliberate and like they were both aware of what was going to happen. However, there has been a lot of debate over how intentional the exposure was and infamously the incident was called "a wardrobe malfunction."
Either way, Timberlake walked away from the incident unscathed and even performed at the Super Bowl again a few years later. Jackson was blacklisted from CBS and Viacom and many feel Jackson's career and reputation were damaged by the incident.
Since then, Super Bowl Sunday for some has been called #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay. This year, many more people joined in to drag Timberlake:
No one has heard from Timberlake about his name trending on Twitter yet, but it seems like his publicist is trying to do some heavy lifting this week:
There aren't many ways that Timberlake can actually be held accountable for how he used damaging women's careers as a springboard for himself. But maybe we can all be a little more aware of the next Timberlake who comes around.