No Good Deed Goes Unpunished for Britney Spears

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Updated
Feb. 1, 2024

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished for Britney Spears

By
Zoe Guy ,
a news writer who covers film, TV, music, and celebrities

Fo shiz.
Photo: Getty Images

Britney Spears is better than me. In the early hours of January 29, she apologized for “some of the things” she wrote in her book, likely referring to the embarrassing stories about ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, before plugging the aforementioned man’s comeback attempt — you know, apropos of nothing. While the pair aren’t officially beefing (neither have named names during this week’s squabble), the détente between Spears and Timberlake appears to have blown up faster than anyone could even begin to care about the latter’s new song (if they ever do). On February 1, just a few days after Spears magnanimously held out an olive branch, she snatched it right back, taking her sorry away with her after Timberlake appeared to out-selfish her.

“Someone told me someone was talking shit about me on the streets!!!,” she captioned an Instagram post of a full moon framed by a basketball hoop. “Do you want to bring it to the court or will you go home crying to your mom like you did last time ??? I’m not sorry !!!”

So, how did we go from Spears vaguely apologizing on Sunday to threatening legal action on Thursday? Here’s what we know about the toxic situation.

Well, she maybe felt a deep generosity of heart. When Timberlake dropped his new single, “Selfish,” she could have gotten word of her fans’ coordinated campaign against it, swiftly taking action to soften the blow. After Britney supporters got the ick over Timberlake’s AAVE, claims that he pressured Spears into an abortion, and his handling of their seismic breakup that measured 9.8 on the toxic scale, they couldn’t sit back and let his new song do well on the charts. On January 26, the day “Selfish” dropped, fans decided to run up Spears’s 2011 song of the same name from her record Femme Fatale. The apparent effort to sabotage edged out Timberlake on the real-time iTunes chart: Spears’s song went No. 1 while his brand-new release sat at No. 3, below “FACTS,” a Tom MacDonald song featuring conservative gremlin commentator Ben Shapiro. Humiliating.

After Spears apologized for “some of the things” she wrote in her book, she even did some free promo for Timberlake’s song. “If I offended any of the people I genuinely care about I am deeply sorry,” she captioned an Instagram post. “I also wanted to say I am in love with Justin Timberlake’s new song ‘Selfish’ 🌹It is soo good and how come every time I see Justin and Jimmy [Fallon] together I laugh so hard ???”

No! Allegedly. He took time out of his free birthday concert to make what could be a blanket statement on his flimsy pride, though it felt very much so directed at Spears. “I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to absolutely fucking nobody,” he told the crowd at New York’s Irving Plaza on January 31, “Page Six” reported. Following his outburst, he performed his bitter 2002 single “Cry Me a River.” Perceived as a ballad written to blame Spears for their breakup that same year, the song’s music video stars an actor who looks eerily similar to his ex. Two and two together …

Timberlake has in fact apologized in the past. Following the release of the explosive documentaries about Spears’s abusive, misogynist media coverage and subsequent conservatorship in 2021, the pop singer set out to right wrongs. His Notes app apology vaguely referenced his “actions” contributing to the “problem,” before he directly apologized to both Spears and Janet Jackson in the same sentence. When Spears’s memoir hit the shelves in October 2023, Timberlake turned off his Instagram comments, perhaps in an attempt to shield from the fallout of some bad-boyfriend revelations about pressuring her into an abortion and breaking up over text.

Spears, for her part, said the memoir’s purpose was “not meant to offend anyone by any means” upon the release. Oops!

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished for Britney Spears

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