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09th Feb 2021

Justin Timberlake criticised after ‘Framing Britney Spears’ documentary

Jade Hayden

Seen it yet?

Justin Timberlake is under a significant amount of fire following the debut of new documentary, Framing Britney Spears.

The film, released on Hulu as part of the New York Times Presents series over the weekend, presents Spears’ early career, her conservatorship under her father’s control, and the rise of the subsequent ‘Free Britney’ movement.

The documentary has since been praised for its portrayal of Spears’ clipped existence at the height of her celebrity, as well as the media’s often exploitative attitude towards the star, but some fans have instead focused on the film’s depiction of Britney and ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake’s relationship.

Britney and Justin met on the Mickey Mouse Club and later dated between 1998 and 2002. After their split, Justin moved away from NSYNC and launched his solo career, at which point Britney became the subject of much negative press.

“The way that people treated her, to be very high school about it, was like she was the school slut and he was the quarterback,” said the Times’ Wesley Morris in the documentary.

Although most of the negativity came from directly the press, fans have argued that Justin’s treatment of Britney after their split encouraged the media onslaught, while directly enhancing Timberlake’s own career.

Following the release of ‘Cry Me a River,’ Britney endured a rake of negative press including an interview with Diane Sawyer, in which she was accused of cheating on the star. “You broke his heart, you did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering,” said Sawyer. “What did you do?”

Other viewers also made reference to the infamous MTV Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show some years later, in which Janet Jackson experienced a “wardrobe malfunction” when Timberlake tore off half of her costume exposing her right breast.

The incident, referred to as ‘Nipplegate’, made headlines across the globe and led to the end of MTV’s contract with the NFL. Jackson later apologised, saying that her costume was supposed to reveal a red lace bra.

“It’s truly embarrassing for me to know that 90 million people saw my breast,” she said at the time. “But there are much worse things in the world, and for this to be such a focus, I don’t understand.”

Timberlake first appeared unapologetic following the incident, only to eventually say sorry to “anyone offended”.

“I’m frustrated that my character is being questioned,” he said.

As it stands, Britney and Justin do not appear to have a significant relationship apart from the odd social media interaction.

In 2019, Spears shared a video of herself dancing to Timberlake’s ‘Filthy,’ to which the former NSYNC member replied with a crying laughing face and some praise hands emojis.

Framing Britney Spears is available to watch on Hulu now.