He had issued his statement on Instagram on Friday, Feb. 12, in response to recent criticism of him on social media following Hulu's recent release of The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears documentary, which focuses on the pop star's personal turmoil over the past decade. The film demonstrated how Spears has been shamed in the media, including by Timberlake after their 2002 split.
"I love you. [heart emoji]," Biel, who married Timberlake in 2012 and shares two sons with him, commented on his post, in which he stated, "I am deeply sorry for the time 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. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism."
Timberlake also wrote, "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. I also feel compelled to respond, in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly, because this is a larger conversation that I whole heartedly want to be part of and grow from."
Framing Britney Spears referenced the singer and Timberlake's breakup and his subsequent music video for "Cry Me a River," which starred a Spears look-alike and implied that the fellow singer had cheated on him. The documentary also included audio of a radio interview he gave in which he bragged about having sex with Spears.
Following the release of the documentary, social media users rushed to express their support for Spears and called to "cancel" Timberlake, with many also mentioning his and Jackson's infamous "Nipplegate" controversy.
While performing together at the 2004 Super Bowl, Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson's top, accidentally exposing one of her nipple-shield-adorned breasts to the event's 90 million viewers during CBS' live broadcast. Both singers apologized over the incident, which Timberlake called a "wardrobe malfunction." Jackson's rep said at the time that the exposure "was not intentional" and that Timberlake was supposed to pull away the bustier and leave a "red-lace bra."
But TV executives still blamed Jackson for the incident, which drew more than 500,000 complaints and spurred an FCC investigation and indecency fines that were later reversed. The controversy also threatened to derail her career, as MTV and U.S. radios reportedly blacklisted Jackson's music videos for some time.
"The industry is flawed," Timberlake wrote in his apology post on Instagram on Friday. "It 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. 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 again."
He continued, "I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. I know this apology is a first step and doesn't absolve the past. I want to take accountability for my own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports. I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better."