Spears’ father, Jamie, has been her conservator for 13 years, exercising authority over her monetary selections and affairs (an association she petitioned to vary in August). The documentary takes viewers by way of that, in addition to again to Spears’ childhood and rise to fame, emphasizing how as a celeb she was hyper-sexualized and subjected to questions on her physique, her virginity and different subjects that male pop stars of the period not often confronted. She is proven being relentlessly pursued by paparazzi and being shamed within the media as a unhealthy mom to her then-infant son.
Timberlake and Spears had been a legendary star couple. They carried out collectively on The Mickey Mouse Club as kids and dated for 4 years
earlier than splitting in 2002, simply as Timberlake was launching what would grow to be his blockbuster solo profession and two years earlier than he, whereas performing with Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII, botched a “costume reveal” and briefly uncovered Jackson’s breast on stay tv. Both Timberlake and Jackson apologized afterward
, however Jackson suffered extreme penalties to her profession
, together with being blacklisted by Viacom
, whereas Timberlake’s thrived. Most notably, within the fast aftermath, Timberlake was invited to attend the 2004 Grammy Awards whereas Jackson was not.
Driven largely by dialogue of the Spears documentary and Janet Jackson Appreciation Day, social media lit up with conversations about Timberlake’s relationship with Spears
and public humiliation (even when inadvertent) of, her idol, Janet Jackson
, as platforms for his profession. The layering impact of those conversations successfully reframed Timberlake’s launch and institution of his solo music profession. The documentary particularly highlighted how Timberlake appeared to regulate the media narrative about his breakup with Spears, full with claims that she cheated on him and broke his coronary heart — expressed in his debut solo album, “Justified.” According to a current Buzzfeed report, Timberlake is receiving a excessive quantity of criticism on Instagram, together with calls for he apologize to Spears
. Timberlake didn’t reply to Buzzfeed’s requests for remark.
What the documentary advised to me is the very actual risk that Timberlake’s solo profession was laid on the societal shaming of Britney Spears. Examine the sequenced releasing of songs and his media promotion of the 2002 album, which centered on the couple’s breakup. “Like I Love You,” a modest success that musically located Timberlake as a Michael Jackson wannabe, set the ex-boy bander up in standard tradition as a devoted Romeo. In the following act, the second single “Cry Me a River” introduced Timberlake as a heartbroken sufferer of a deceitful, dishonest lady — within the video, this lady is portrayed as a Britney doppelgänger.
The actress who performed this half, Lauren Hastings, was a Spears lookalike. Spears herself alluded to
this in a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, by which she revealed that Timberlake known as her to inform her “by the way, you’re in a video that’s coming out.” After seeing the video, Britney added, “I should’ve freakin’ said no to this s**t!”
In maybe the least delicate flip of those occasions, throughout a 2002 interview
with Barbara Walters about his life, Walters requested Timberlake “what went wrong” in his relationship with Spears to immediate their (then-recent) breakup
. Timberlake recalled telling Spears that he would at all times love her and promising that he would by no means say “specifically” why they broke up. When Walters pursued the query, alluding to the likelihood that Spears had been untrue, Timberlake stated “We’re not perfect, I don’t judge anybody.” The interview then cuts to Timberlake performing an unreleased tune (notable because the interview was selling his recently-released solo debut album) known as “Don’t Go (Horrible Woman
).” Along with a assertion of the girl’s relative worthlessness, the lyrics included the phrases: “Hey girl / At least you gave me another song about a horrible woman / And that’s you, but it’s true.” The transfer was extensively interpreted
as a reference to Spears.
The chiastic impact — Britney’s downfall, Justin’s ascent — was replicated a few years later, this time, with Spears’s idol, Janet Jackson as Timberlake’s foil. While Jackson was publicly vilified after their joint Super Bowl efficiency, Timberlake’s preliminary response appeared to frame on gleeful: “We love giving you all something to talk about,” he instructed
“Access Hollywood” the night time of the Super Bowl efficiency. Three years later, in 2007, he acknowledged
to MTV that he “could’ve handled it better,” including that he thought of himself a member of a neighborhood of artists, and “if there was something I could have done in her defense that was more, that I could have realized, then I would have.” He additionally stated: “If you consider it 50-50, I probably got 10% of the blame, and that says something about society…I think that America’s harsher on women. And I think that America’s unfairly harsh on ethnic people.”
“That says something about society.” Here is, in my studying, Timberlake’s unintentional reveal: He is aware of how society treats ladies, that society, to cite Jude Ellison S. Doyle, loves a feminine celeb “trainwreck
.” He is aware of the compounding impact that the media has by way of the relentless damaging portrayals, stereotyping, and shaming of girls. And, but, regardless of this consciousness, the extent of any semblance of accountability solely goes so far as him recognizing that misogyny exists in society — intensified by way of the media — to systematically penalize and silence ladies.
While not finally answerable for Spears’ destiny, Timberlake inspired and profited from a broader tradition that celebrates and derives pleasure and revenue from ladies’s struggling. And that is what the documentary makes astoundingly clear.
“There was too much money to be made off her suffering,” New York Times critic-at-large Wesley Morris observes within the documentary about how a whole business was constructed on this type of exploitation. Or, as gossip blogger Perez Hilton quips, “Thank you, Britney Spears — being bad is good for my business.”
Denying accountability is a quintessential technique to take care of dominance in society. “The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions,” Audre Lorde wrote
in an essay revealed in “Sister Outsider
.” Men hold their energy by way of this denial, which grants them limitless foreign money to proceed to do as they please.
This denial, arguably, is the bastion of American “freedom” — a deliberate bastardization of the idea to imply the correct of a individual to do something they need.
From Timberlake to former President Donald Trump and past, males’s capacity to dismiss or impugn ladies for revenue is determined by their capacity to profit from or weaponize misogyny after which deny it’s what they’re doing. The cultural conversations about misogyny have modified over the previous twenty years, largely because of the #MeToo motion. Yet, regardless of this paradigm shift, what stays unchanged is society’s failure to undertake the language and instruments of accountability.
If the societal change mandatory for dignity and justice is to happen, we should transfer from consciousness
. To be clear, accountability just isn’t about being “canceled
,” as these angry that they’re lastly being held to account for his or her actions usually declare. Awareness of how one’s actions have affected different folks is step one of accountability.
Because accountability takes time and contains penalties, it isn’t as simply palatable because the easy, rhetorical “sorry if….” Understanding the results of your actions and your energy in conditions can result in discussions about, to cite the author Sarah Schulman, your “responsibility to restore
” the actual harms created. Self-critical reflection means understanding your complicity in techniques and discourses that perpetuate misogyny and dealing with others to vary them. And, if his 2018 e book “Hindsight” — by which, with out mentioning Spears, he explains “Cry Me a River” by reiterating
he was ” scorned” and “pissed off” when he wrote it — is any indication, it seems that Timberlake has achieved little or no restore work when it comes to the hurt he is achieved. With the documentary’s launch and requires his response and apology on social media, the chance has introduced itself for Timberlake to totally take accountability for his actions.
Without accountability, there no finish in sight to the numerous types of misogyny that proceed to injure ladies. But, as evident within the documentary, Spears and ladies like her proceed to seek out methods to talk up concerning the harms they expertise. To hearken to Spears converse repeatedly about her want for freedom, to be, in her phrases, “liberated,” signifies her personal consciousness of her state of affairs: “When I tell them the way I feel, it’s like, they hear me, but they’re really not listening. They’re hearing what they want to hear. They’re not really listening to what I’m telling them.”
It is wonderful to suppose that somebody who is ready to differentiate between “hearing” and “listening” is taken into account by some unfit to regulate her personal life. Even extra, the query not just for Timberlake however for all of us who stay on this society is: Will we now hearken to her? Will we pay attention — actually pay attention — to ladies?