Beware the nostalgia bug.
Sometimes it evolves into a beautiful, Stranger Things-level, Seinfeld-reunion-takes-Curb-Your-Enthusiasm-to-even-greater-places, smashing success. And other times...
It bites you in the butt.
How is that possible, we wonder, when obviously one of the main pastimes in recent years—particularly online—has been looking backward in wistful celebration of whatever was going on then, because then must have been a better, simpler time.
From Fuller House and the upcoming Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix, to losing our stuffing every time former co-stars reunite, to marking the 1-year, 5-year, 11-year, 17-year anniversary of everything ever, ours has become a culture of glorifying what came before, sometimes because it was great, yet sometimes only because it came...before.
But that's what reruns and our memories are for. Not to mention DVD box sets, or epic downloading, or videos we snap in the moment and actually keep. Those are the time capsules that we can pop open again and again, often to be rewarded with something that's just as satisfying to experience every time.
Wait, Britney's been harboring that opinion for goodness-knows-how-long and she's just putting that out there now?!
Cue the well-meaning hysteria.
Taking a step back from the not-to-be-ignored aw factor... Why would that be a good idea again?
To be sure, Justin and Britney remain the gold standard of Y2K-era power couples, the boy band heartthrob and the pop princess being the stuff our 1990s-era innocence was made of. Their relationship preceded Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, the Kardashians, Twitter, memes—all the things that have made our Internet more of an addiction than it used to be—and deposited us safely in the 21st century, the stuff of denim-on-denim dreams.
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But if one of the reasons that everyone has such a soft, irreplaceable spot in their hearts for Britney and J.T. is that it reminds them of a simpler time, let us remember that things weren't going so well for them.
Legend has it that, when they abruptly split up in 2002 (yup, 14 years ago), it was Timberlake who was nursing the broken heart—as later more or less confirmed by "Cry Me a River."
"I was like, 'Man, don't worry about it' and he's like, 'I can't believe she did that to me' and he was like, 'You were my sun, you were my earth,'" Timbaland recalled working on the song with Justin in a 2012 episode of the E! True Hollywood Story.
Now, thanks to those 14 years and everything that's happened in between, to both of them, there's no reason why either would still be stewing over whatever occurred back then. And because they once wore all of that denim to the VMAs that time, we have every reason to fondly remember them as a couple.
However, do you think either of them really enjoyed being linked to the other for...well, you can't put a number on the amount of years because apparently they're forever linked—and now, they're the next hoped-for reunion on tap.
But here's why we should be content for remembering them as they were, and not be hoping to top off our nostalgia sundae with a Spimberlake cherry. (It's either that or Tears—Tears!—people.)
We remember the 'N Sync reunion at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, right? Ten years after Timberlake, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick, J.C. Chasez and Joey Fatone took a very long break, MTV managed to scrape them back together, all at once, on one stage, for a glorious, mega-hyped...
Almost two minutes.
And despite all the deserved excitement the blinked-and-you-missed-it moment caused, afterward came reports that Timberlake—who was being honored with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award that night—scaled back the group's appearance so it wouldn't take up too much of his literal 15 minutes and, worse yet, the guys were "upset."
Since the idea of the boys feeling burned is such a shame and the reunion, however adorable, set up fans thirsting for more for disappointment, why do that to the JT-and-Britney lovers of the world?
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Let's just imagine for a second that this really might come to pass. (What was Justin supposed to say? No? What grown-up, mature fellow wouldn't just go along with the idea in the moment, even if he knows within himself he has zero interest in opening that door and stepping into his past?)
What are Britney and Justin supposed to do, exactly? Record a song together? That could be done to sonic perfection—in studios on opposite ends of the country, without them ever even having to be in the same room.
Or do we want them to perform live? What would that achieve? Justin is married, so aside from the fact that the chemistry would be all out of whack, if somehow there was a spark, that would just be weird—and maybe even uncomfortable—at this point.
Because no one revered Britney and Justin as a genius song-writing duo, or as two powerhouse voices meant to intertwine in song. It was all about the fact that they were a couple, and while we love her music and we love his music, and it was awesome at the time when they shared a stage, there isn't any of their music to love.
No one can be faulted for flipping for the concept of Britney and Justin 2.0, but that specific, very time-sensitive magic cannot be recaptured.
And that's not to say the magic is gone. Rather, it will always be there—in the year 2000.