A new documentary, Framing Britney Spears, has just aired and it is being discussed widely across social media.
One of its key conversation topics? The manner in which Justin Timberlake — then the frontman of squeaky clean boyband NSYNC, used his break-up with the teenage singer to enhance his solo career. You may remember that, following their split, Britney Spears was accused of cheating.
There was never any proof, and the rumors were never cemented, but Justin didn’t seem to care about that. He cast a woman who looked a lot like his ex for the music video of his hit, “Cry Me A River,” thereby spinning it as a Britney diss track and securing its place as a water cooler discussion point.
Inevitably, it became a hit. He became a bonafide solo star, and two decades later he still has a lucrative career. It is built on the pain of a woman whose star power far outweighs his own.
Many viewers of the new program have expressed their disgust at the way in which Justin benefitted from slurring Britney. “Beyond showing how impossibly horrible ‘the media’ was to Britney Spears in the 00s, I’m glad that the doc begins to reckon with the idea of how much of Justin Timberlake’s career in the aughts came at the expense of women like Britney,” wrote one.
“Justin sacrificed Britney’s image on the public altar to promote himself by implying that she cheated,” one viewer wrote, with another adding: “Never liked Justin Timberlake and #FramingBritneySpears proved my intuition was always right.”
Almost two decades after the split, Timberlake is married to actress Jessica Biel, and Spears is dating trainer Sam Asghari.