Cry Me a River, Justin

Photos courtesy of Britney Spears / Justin Timberlake Instagram.

Memo to class act Justin. Let me tell you what I told my 4-year-old last week: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

For those not following the Justin Timberlake/Britney Spears drama, no, this isn’t 2002, and there’s no matching denim attire involved. More than 20 years after their highly publicized breakup, the two are making headlines again — this time because someone who once regularly dipped his head into a bowl of ramen refuses to be a man.

Here’s what went down: After a series of chart-topping hits, bestselling albums, hundreds of tour dates, unparalleled success, two pregnancies in two years, failed marriages, mental breakdowns, custody battles for her babies, and a 13-year conservatorship that ripped her of the freedom to buy her own sneakers and drink Starbucks, Spears was finally given the opportunity to speak her truth, on her own terms, in her own voice, with the release of her memoir, The Woman In Me, last fall.

READ: Free Britney (and Her Body): Nobody Should Be Robbed of Motherhood

In her bestselling book, a highly sensitive Spears details childhood trauma, her swift rise to fame, substance abuse, struggles with anxiety and depression, a breakdown that birthed a bevy of tasteless memes, motherhood, and several relationships, including the three years she spent dating Timberlake. Most shocking for many was the revelation of a painful secret she’d kept buried for more than two decades: An abortion she had, primarily because “Justin was so sure he didn’t want to be a father.” She goes on to describe laying on the bathroom floor while “sobbing and screaming,” as Timberlake strummed his guitar from across the room. She also details his infidelity, her own indiscretion, and the “insane” amount that she loved him.

A young Britney Spears, during the video shoot for “Overprotected,” when Justin broke up with her via text message. Photo courtesy of Britney Spears Instagram / Chris Applebaum.

Following the release of Spears’ book, the former NSYNC bandmate kept a fairly low profile — up until last month with the release of his new single, “Selfish,” alongside the announcement of his sixth studio album, Everything I Thought It Was, set to drop in March. Angry Spears fans immediately rallied to push her 2011 track of the same name to the top of the charts in a bid to take the “Suit & Tie” singer down a notch (it worked). But because Spears, 42, has a heart of gold, she quickly said (in a since-deleted Instagram post), “I wanna apologize for some of the things I wrote about in my book. If I offended any of the people I genuinely care about I am deeply sorry. I also wanted to say I am in love with Justin Timberlake’s new song ‘Selfish.’ It is soo good.”

That’s when Timberlake, 43, showed his true colors. During his recent NYC show, he said, “I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize… to absolutely f*cking nobody,” just before launching into “Holy Grail / Cry Me a River” (the latter is his 2002 Britney breakup ballad).

Excuse me, WHAT?! (I’m going to go off-script here because I feel very strongly about this.) Britney dodges inappropriate questions about her virginity and is held to a completely unfair standard while Justin skyrockets to fame. Born into a tumultuous household with an abusive, alcoholic father, our girl long carried a sense of guilt and shame, growing up to suffer from a host of mental health issues, only to be forced to deal with them in the public eye… before mental health was even a societal topic of conversation. (Side note: I, as an anxious nobody, can barely stomach the thought of what others might think of me. If I were thrust into the public eye, I would most certainly die.) Yet, Justin is made the victim during the breakup when all she wants is to be loved. In her book, Britney describes his family as “the only real, loving family” she had. And then it was stripped away from her, alongside everything else, including her personal freedom. While Justin marries Jessica Biel, has two babies without a fear in the world of losing custody, and gets more famous. And the second Britney finds her voice, he tries to kick her back down. F*CK YOU, Justin.

Timberlake needs to either make an official statement or STFU stay silent. There is no need for a**holery and passive-aggressive, immature comments. He’s a dad. A grown-a** man. Actually. Here, I’ll write the statement for him. I don’t even need any credit.

“I respect that Britney has her own story to tell. I would have preferred to keep the more personal aspects of our relationship between us, but she has her story to tell, and while I might choose to keep mine private, I can respect that. We all make mistakes when we are young, and we both had extreme pressures placed upon us, being thrust into the spotlight at such a young age. I wish her nothing but the best. She’s an amazing artist and person.”

It’s not too late. He can still make the right choice and be a good dude. Until then, #TeamJustinBieber.

Tina Smithers Peckham
Originally from Kansas City, Tina relocated to Jacksonville, FL with her dear husband, feisty cat and sweet-natured corgi mix in 2016. After eight years working various gigs in New York City from magazine publishing to digital marketing, Tina joined the world of freelance, writing and reporting for a variety of publications and websites including MTV News, ET Online, Glamour, Us Weekly and more. Tina has also assisted with social media, editorial and content strategy for brands and personalities such as Britney Spears, Jordin Sparks, Beauty Brands, truTV and WE tv. When she’s not plugging away on her laptop, she can be found exploring the Jacksonville beaches, reading a good book or enjoying a local coffee shop with her cherub-cheeked little boys, Archer and Austin.



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