6 Celeb Scandals Where We Got Mad At The Wrong Person
Celebrity gossip culture is a gross waste of time, but much like an old David Foster Wallace joke about a fish asking some other fish “how’s the water,” it's inescapable. Sure, I’m outing myself as a curmudgeonly old man by openly disparaging celebrity gossip and referencing David Foster Wallace, but what I really despise is powerful people punching down and hurting people. So let's take a minute and give some villains a break, because whatever their perceived sins, they got a super raw deal.
Britney Spears And Janet Jackson Get Ruined While Justin Timberlake Went On Smirking
The initial incident:
By now, the numerous public abuses Britney Spears has suffered should be obvious, but here's a quick rehash. She was one of the biggest pop stars in the world at age 17, dated the other biggest pop star, married a dirt bag before Megan Fox and Khloe Kardashian made it cool, got so hounded by paparazzi she had a breakdown, and was completely controlled by her dad for the next decade and a half.
Janet Jackson, meanwhile, is the second-biggest member of the Jackson family, a talented singer and actress whose career heyday spanned all the way from the '70s until 2004. What happened in 2004? Well, she was blacklisted for the crime of her breast existing, and it being sort of seen on television during the Super Bowl.
The hidden villain:
Justin Timberlake. Let’s start by zeroing in on his role in Britney’s life: Spears began her career as a teenager and was grossly marketed on her purity, despite all of her music videos seemingly designed to test exactly how much skin MTV was willing to show on TRL at 3pm. She’d said publicly that she wanted to wait until marriage to have sex, yet she was a sex symbol. Her relationship with budding “King of Pop” Timberlake caused endless speculation about her virginity—two of the hottest celebrities in the world dating will do that.
When they split up, accusations of infidelity cropped up, which Timberlake actively encouraged. The video for his breakthrough solo hit “Cry Me A River” featured him catching a Spears lookalike leaving a building with another man, and him singing menacingly direct-to-camera in the rain.
All this led to increased tabloid/paparazzi attention for Spears, and can plausibly be said to be the beginning of her emotional breakdown. She continued to record, but became a major subject of scrutiny. The press treated Spears so atrociously that South Park took her side and did a whole episode where she got literally sacrificed.
As far as Jackson, no radio station would play her, MTV wouldn’t show her videos. Oh, and the whole thing was organized by CBS CEO Les Moonves, one of the most powerful people in media. During her exile, she had to apologize over and over again for what outlets like Entertainment Weekly were breathlessly calling “Hootergate.” It seems ludicrous to write now, but there was real anger in the air about that halftime boob pop. All this even though Timberlake is the one who ripped her top.
Timberlake, for his part, responded with a casual “we love giving you guys something to talk about.” He then went on to win his first Grammy for “Cry Me A River,” released the multi-platinum FutureSex/LoveSounds, and became a successful actor. He also disrespected Prince. All this while Spears and Jackson were struggling with the fallout from incidents he at least partially initiated. After nearly 20 years of endless bullshit, though, Timberlake would apologize in the most sincere format there is: an Instagram story.