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‘Framing Britney Spears’ fans claim Justin Timberlake owes star ‘apology’ for 2002 post-breakup scandal

A Feb. 5 docuseries from the New York Times explores the life of Britney Spears. (Photo: REUTERS/Steve Marcus)

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake’s relationship ended in 2002 but following the debut of Framing Britney Spears, social media is demanding the “Holy Grail” singer apologize for “throwing Britney under the bus” after their breakup.

On Friday, The New York Times Presents aired the 75-minute docuseries on FX and Hulu, detailing the explosive narratives that have overshadowed the pop star’s epic career: The 2008 mental health breakdown that inspired her father Jamie Spears’s conservatorship (currently in place until Sept. 3, 2021), and the #FreeBritney movement led by fans who support the financial independence of Spears.

The documentary specifically revisits a 2003 interview between ABC’s Diane Sawyer and Spears, which put her in the hot seat following the couple’s breakup and rumors that she cheated on Timberlake, after the release of his 2002 “Cry Me a River” music video which featured him getting revenge on a Spears-like character.

Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, who broke up in 2002, depicted at the MTV Music Video Awards in 2000. Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, who broke up in 2002, depicted at the MTV Music Video Awards in 2000. Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

In the interview, Sawyer asks Spears, “You broke his heart, you did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?” The journalist also pressed Spears on her fidelity to Timberlake, to which she answered, “I think everyone has a side of their story to make them feel a certain way…and I’m not technically saying he’s wrong but I’m not technically saying he’s right either.”

Spears also told Sawyer she felt “exploited” by a New York radio interview with Timberlake in which he jokingly said the couple slept together.

Some social media users complained that Timberlake, among other people in Spears’s life, were responsible for inflicting “mental torture” on the star. “He’s the worst,” someone tweeted. “I am legit disgusted by Justin Timberlake and how he dragged Britney through the mud like that. Gross,” wrote another. “He completely capitalized on their private relationship,” someone else tweeted. Many called for Timberlake to issue an “apology” to Spears.

And a few claimed that Timberlake’s behavior was a prelude to the fall-out from his joint performance with Janet Jackson at the 2004 Super Bowl. While singing Timberlake’s song “Rock Your Body” he famously pulled at Jackson’s Alexander McQueen bustier, accidentally exposing her breast (which was covered by a nipple shield). Jackson released a video apology, which she later told Oprah Winfrey she regretted, due to Timberlake’s role in the incident. And Timberlake apologized, saying, “I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance at the Super Bowl. It was not intentional and is regrettable.” Though years later, he admitted to shouldering less blame for the incident.

A spokesperson for Timberlake did not immediately respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment.

Nearly two decades after their famous breakup, Spears, a mother-of-two who is dating trainer Sam Asghari, and Timberlake, who shares two children with wife Jessica Biel, have obviously moved on. In January, she shared an Instagram video of herself dancing to “Holy Grail” by her ex and Jay-Z. And in April, another video showed Spears jamming to Timberlake’s song “Filthy.

“Great song JT,” she wrote on Instagram. In response, Timberlake posted a string of happy emojis.

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