That is the question many fans pondered after Asghari shared on his Instagram Story a comment that included the name of one of the latter pop star's most famous songs, at a time when JT already found himself in the social media spotlight.
On Saturday, Nov. 20, Asghari posted a screenshot of a Variety article titled, "Britney Spears' Fiancé Sam Asghari Thanks Pop Singer for Helping Put His Acting Career 'On the Map.'" He captioned the post, "Bringing sexy back is cool And all but bringing (real) back in Hollywood is even sexier," adding a winking face with tongue emoji.
Timberlake, who scored a hit with the 2006 single "Sexyback," has not commented on Asghari's remarks. At the time, Timberlake's name had been trending on Twitter since the night before, when FX and Hulu premiered the New York Times documentary Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson, which sparked renewed criticism of Timberlake.
The program focuses on the controversy that erupted when, during Janet Jackson's headlining set at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Timberlake, a surprise guest performer, ripped off a piece of the pop queen's outfit to expose one of her breasts. The documentary shows how TV executives, the media and the public blamed Jackson for the "wardrobe malfunction," which later tainted her career but not Timberlake's, and fueled questions of whether racism and sexism played a part in that.
He had also drawn public criticism on social media in February, when the 2021 Super Bowl stirred people's memories of "Nipplegate" and also following the release of a previous New York Times' documentary, Framing Britney Spears, which focused on his ex's legal and personal turmoil. The program demonstrated how she was shamed by the media, as well as by Timberlake after their 2002 split.
Days after the 2021 Super Bowl, the "Sexyback" singer wrote on Instagram, "I've seen the messages, tags, comments and concerns...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 has not commented on the documentary.
Despite their history, Timberlake and Spears have shown support for one another in recent years. She has complimented and even danced to his music in Instagram videos, called him "inspiring," expressed interest in collaborating with him—to which he appeared receptive.
And Timberlake has also publicly stood behind Spears in her battle to end her conservatorship, which was finally terminated earlier this month after 13 years. "Regardless of our past, good and bad, and no matter how long ago it was," he tweeted in June, after she gave a bombshell court testimony about her situation, "what's happening to her is just not right."
On Friday, Nov. 19, Spears posted on Instagram a post containing a video of Christina Aguilera declining—at her publicist's insistence—to offer her opinion about her conservatorship's termination. However, did say she was "happy" for Spears.
"I love and adore everyone who supported me," Spears wrote. "But refusing to speak when you know the truth, is equivalent to a lie!!! 13 years being in a corrupt abusive system yet why is it such a hard topic for people to talk about??? I'm the one who went through it!!! All the supporters who spoke up and supported me thank you...yes I do matter!!!!!"
Aguilera, who co-starred with the "Toxic" singer and Timberlake on Disney's All-New Mickey Mouse Club series and then rose to fame as a pop star the same time they did in the late '90s, expressed support for Spears' legal bid for freedom in June, days after her court testimony.
"These past few days I've been thinking about Britney and everything she is going through," Aguilera tweeted at the time. "It is unacceptable that any woman, or human, wanting to be in control of their own destiny might not be allowed to live life as they wish. To be silenced, ignored, bullied or denied support by those ‘close' to you is the most depleting, devastating and demeaning thing imaginable. The harmful mental and emotional damage this can take on a human spirit is nothing to be taken lightly."
In 2018. Asghari subtly shaded Aguilera on Instagram when asked by a fan, ""Britney or Christina?" He responded, "Christina who?"