Justin Timberlake is trying to make good.
In a statement posted to his Instagram account on Friday, the singer issued an apology to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson for “missteps” that he says contributed to “a system that condones misogyny and racism.”
“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments and concerns and I want to respond,” he wrote. “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.”
Timberlake did not in his statement offer specific examples of the actions he regrets, but his comments come at a time of renewed conversations relating to two separate tabloid-powered periods in his career involving Spears and Jackson.
Spears, who is in the midst of a high-profile legal battle relating to her conservatorship, found vocal supporters in the wake of the airing of “Framing Britney Spears,” a documentary examining the singer’s career and the often shameful scrutiny she has faced in the media. Timberlake’s part in seeming to contribute to that — and, ultimately, the effect that coverage may have had on her mental health — is addressed in the film.
Spears and Timberlake famously dated for several years at what was arguably the height of their teen-era careers.
Jackson, meanwhile, has been something of a staple subject of conversation around Super Bowl time in recent years, with most recalling the unfair ire that was directed the superstar’s way following the controversial “wardrobe malfunction” halftime show. (In the incident, you’ll recall, Timberlake ripped off Jackson’s bodice, revealing her right breast, during their performance.)
This year, Jackson’s supporters, who feel she suffered consequences to her career that Timberlake did not, used #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay to show their love. Jackson acknowledged the movement with a few retweets on Twitter.
“I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed,” Timberlake said. “I also feel compelled to respond, in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly, because this is a larger conversation that I wholeheartedly want to be a part of and grow from.”
Timberlake also used his statement to address the “flawed” music industry that he said “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,” he said. “Because of my ignorance, I didn’t recognize 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 ever again.”
Timberlake is now married to actress Jessica Biel.
“I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career,” Timberlake added. “I know this apology is a first step and doesn’t absolve the past. I want to take accountability for my missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports.”
He added: “I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and will do better.”