We’re reaching the point of quarantine where normal rules just don’t matter anymore. We’re eating at random times, drinking at… all the times, and reaching out to people from our past just out of boredom. If you haven’t texted a past hookup or ex during this pandemic, you’re stronger than me, congratulations. Luckily, Britney Spears is taking my mind off of my ex, by very publicly talking about one of her own exes: Justin Timberlake.
On Wednesday, Britney Spears posted one of her now-signature videos on Instagram, featuring some frantic dance moves, choppy editing, and most importantly, ultra-low rise booty shorts. But what was notable about this video was that she’s dancing to one of Justin Timberlake’s songs, “Filthy.” In her caption, she says that this is her “version of Snapchat or TikTok or whatever the cool thing you’re supposed to do these days.” God, I love her.
But then she really brings it home by addressing her song choice: “PS I know we had one of the world’s biggest breakups 20 years ago …… but hey the man is a genius !!!! Great song JT”. And, in that moment, my soul rose up to heaven. Britney’s Instagram during quarantine has been messy in the most delightful way, and this is everything I could’ve asked for.
But then it got even better, because Justin Timberlake commented on the post. He kept it frustratingly simple, with just some emojis, but in these dark times, I will take what I get and I won’t get upset. We know that Justin and Britney thought of each other yesterday, and for that I am thankful.
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Naturally, people were very excited by this interaction, and this post got sent in no less than three group chats I’m in. Britney’s sister Jamie Lynn Spears also chimed in, commenting that “Blogs are already plotting their outrageous stories…. you keep having fun and looking cute tho!!” Okay, I don’t know if I should feel attacked right now, but I will refrain from plotting any outrageous stories. And honestly, there’s nothing going on here to even plot about. It’s pretty obvious that Britney and Justin aren’t close or anything—this isn’t a Brad and Jen situation—but it’s fun to see them shouting each other out.
Seeing Britney’s post, and the ensuing comments, made me feel super nostalgic. Last week, we threw it back to 2006 to explain the iconic photos of Britney Spears with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, but Britney’s relationship with Justin was a whole different era, and I f*cking miss it. Of course, we all remember the classic matching denim looks, but I feel like people forget how sh*tty Justin was to Britney after things ended.
In a Twitter thread from 2018 that’s basically a goldmine of forgotten moments, @PallahAbdul walks us through two decades of reasons “why Justin Timberlake is trash.” The thread isn’t just about Britney, but their relationship is definitely a recurring theme. According to the thread, soon after Justin and Britney broke up in 2002, Justin began a pattern of portraying himself as the victim, and putting the blame on Britney for the relationship going wrong.
In this clip from a Barbara Walters interview, he says that he promised Britney he wouldn’t say the exact reason for the split, but basically says yes when Barbara asks him if Britney cheated. Allegedly, they both cheated on each other, but Justin leaves that part out. Then, later in the segment, he sings a song called “Horrible Woman.” Subtle!!
In his Barbara Walters interview he paints himself as a victim then goes on to sing a song about Britney called horrible woman pic.twitter.com/nngMVbN3oC
— Romeo Santos (@PallahAbdul) February 4, 2018
Soon after that, he released “Cry Me A River,” which everyone has always assumed is a Britney diss track. While promoting the song, he continued to talk about Britney, and in this radio clip, he admits that he “f*cked Britney Spears.” Considering that they both famously claimed to be virgins during their relationship, this feels like a pretty big betrayal of trust.
Here’s another clip of him on the radio talking about sleeping with Britney pic.twitter.com/q8VulGYMFz
— Romeo Santos (@PallahAbdul) February 4, 2018
Fast forward a full decade, and Justin was still talking sh*t about Britney. In this video from 2013, he introduces a performance of “Cry Me A River” by vaguely talking about when you love someone, and they turn out to be “a bitch.” Classy.
Before his album cycle in 2013, Justin predicably started bringing Britney up again. Before a performance of “cry me a river” he called her a bitch pic.twitter.com/CyEyaOqjWa
— Romeo Santos (@PallahAbdul) February 4, 2018
In the nearly two decades since the breakup, Britney has generally kept things more positive, and she even said in 2016 that she’d love to get in the studio and collaborate with Justin. That being said, she hasn’t been above a shady comment or two, and in this video (that looks like it was shot in a bunker), she and K-Fed joke about how “Cry Me A River” is “pussy-fied.”
Fun little bonus clip: Britney singing cry me a river and calling Justin a pussy pic.twitter.com/c47LTJv9lA
— Romeo Santos (@PallahAbdul) February 5, 2018
Honestly, I don’t think these two will ever be friends, and I don’t need them to be. Clearly, a lot of messiness went down in the past, and sometimes you’re just not supposed to be friends with your ex. I’m happy that they can make playful comments on Instagram, but that’s probably about as far as this will go. Actually, I really want Justin to post a video dancing to one of Britney’s songs, but that doesn’t seem realistic.
Images: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage via Getty Images; commentsbycelebs / Instagram; pallahabdul / Twitter
UPDATE: After last week, I had hoped Britney Spears might take her Hawaiian vacation as an opportunity to reset, recharge, and take a break from Instagram. Sadly, not so. Reader, I am not feeling great about Britney right now, and her Instagram content certainly isn’t helping. On Monday, she blew up her feed with a series of questionably-lit selfies, including a bunch with her boyfriend, and three nearly identical photos of herself that look like driver’s license pictures. In one of the captions, she talked about how her dress is from the 1920s, and she “tore off the bottom ruffle of the dress and made it into a head band,” which like, cool, I guess. She says she’s “never worn something so distinguished,” which I feel like there’s no way that’s true, but good for her, she’s rocking sustainable fashion.
While all of these photos definitely made me raise an eyebrow, the more troubling development came on Tuesday night, when Britney’s son Jayden took to Instagram Live to address a lot of stuff that’s been going on. Jayden, for reference, is 13 years old, which I think is way too young to be on Instagram live, but I’m sure there are a lot of strange things about his life.
In his video, which went on for almost 20 minutes, Jayden said that his mom might not ever return to music, and that his dad “is literally Jesus.” I’m glad he likes K-Fed, and while the uncertainty surrounding Britney’s return to music makes me sad, it might be for the best. But by far the craziest things he said during the Live video were about his grandfather, Jamie Spears. In response to the question “is your grandpa a jerk?” Jayden didn’t hold back: “Yeah, he’s a pretty big dick. He’s pretty f*cking gay as sh*t. He can go die.”
Uhhh I feel like maybe someone should take this kid’s phone away? First of all, the use of “gay” as a slur is really disheartening, and I know he’s young, but it makes me nervous that no one has told him this isn’t okay. But aside from that, Jayden clearly has nothing good to say about Britney’s dad. This comes after an incident last fall, when Kevin Federline accused Jamie Spears of abusing his other son, Sean, and breaking down a door to get to him after he tried to get away. Those accusations went away without any charges being filed, but clearly it wasn’t a good situation.
From there, the video just got weirder, with Jayden using his information as a scheme to get more followers. When someone asked about the situation with his mom, Jayden said that she’s not being controlled, but that he would share more about what’s going on with her if his account gets to 5000 followers. While I don’t love this, I also won’t deny that I immediately followed him. If Jayden is willing to tell us the truth, who am I to get in the way?
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: As a life-long Britney Spears fan, it’s been an eventful journey over the last few years, to say the least. From the cancelation of her second Vegas residency to the many troubling rumors fueling the #FreeBritney campaign last year, our girl really just needs a win. So far, her 2020 has been relatively drama free, but a series of confusing Instagram posts this week have raised some questions about what, exactly, is going on with Britney right now.
After going nearly a month without posting on IG, Britney made her return on Wednesday, posting five times in like, 12 hours. Any time she starts posting on Instagram, my
spidey Britney sense starts tingling, and I have to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Five posts in one day would be a lot coming from anyone (except for my aunts—ladies, you can post less!), but these specific posts from Britney left us with a lot to talk about.
First, she posted an IGTV video reading some fan letters from The Zone, a Britney Spears pop-up that’s in LA through this weekend. (Yes, it’s an entire pop-up of spaces inspired by Britney videos, and also yes, I’m mad I didn’t get to go.) She says that unfortunately she couldn’t make it to the pop-up because she’s “been dancing” and broke her foot, and we can see that she has a big white cast with the word “STRONGER” written in green marker. I love that she has her own song title on the boot, truly a self-referential icon. I’m a little confused why the cast meant she couldn’t make it to the pop-up, but whatever, I’m not here to fact-check Britney.
The letters she reads are actually really sweet, and considering how the last couple years have been dominated by drama in her personal life, it’s nice to hear Britney reconnect with her fans. No matter what she’s been through, millions of people love her, and I hope that makes her feel ~stronger~.
Personally, I was more than happy to take Britney’s word for the fact that she broke her foot while she was dancing, but later on Wednesday, she decided we should all have the actual proof. She posted this video of her dancing for the first time in six months, and left in the part at the end where she literally snaps her ankle. Like, you can actually hear it in the video!! Britney, I love you, but this is not something the world needs to see. If you want to see Britney dancing without a care in the world, but aren’t a fan of watching people break their limbs, just pause it after the first 15 seconds. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Note to anyone reading this: if you ever break a bone and there’s a video of it, please don’t post the video on Instagram. Literally no one needs to see that, and it’s low-key traumatic.
Britney had a very busy Wednesday, seeing as she’s also, apparently, in Hawaii on vacation right now. Is she in multiple places at once? When was the video reading the letters filmed? How long ago did she break her foot? Whatever, not the point. She also posted a pic of a church, and another cute little montage of her on the beach, but this video was what really got my attention:
Brit, you good? She tells us that she’s in Maui and hears thousands of birds, sounding like the world’s most congested Animal Planet host. Seriously, can someone get her a Sudafed, please? She shows us the birds, then yells “THEY’RE SO LOUD” in her classic terrible British accent. This video is definitely giving me weird vibes, and the caption doesn’t help: “PS if you’re a bird then I’m a bird too …. pssss I get to be loud too wheeeee”. I hope this is just her attempt at a joke, but I’m definitely confused.
From her Insta posts, it’s hard to know what’s really going on with Britney Spears right now, but it’s actually a pretty important time for her in her continued legal struggles. Earlier this month, a judge extended her conservatorship until April 30th. The conservatorship, which gives her father and a lawyer control over her assets, has now been in effect for over 12 years. There will be another court decision in the coming months about whether the arrangement will be extended past the end of April.
As always, I just want the best for Britney Spears, so I’m hoping these Instagram posts are just Britney’s wacky sense of humor, and I hope her foot heals up soon. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go listen to “Me Against The Music” 100 times in a row.
Images: Shutterstock; britneyspears / Instagram
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So I guess I’m officially on the Britney beat now. The #FreeBritney movement hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down over the past few days, and even gained traction over the weekend when Britney was given a day pass out of her mental facility for Easter, which she spent with her boyfriend Sam Asghari. (And please, please don’t ask me to tell you my theory that he is not not a semi-hired babysitter-boyfriend being manipulated by her team via sponsorships and attention.)
Before I go any further on a topic that’s actually taken a more serious turn than I expected, I have to start by saying that I’m both a huge fan of Britney’s and someone who takes mental health very seriously. I have mental illness in my family and have seen the gray areas involved and how deeply sad it is when a loved one is unable to care for themselves. I’m not writing this for “clicks”—I’m not a staff writer and have no assignments or quota to hit. (I bet you’re wondering who I am now, right? RIGHT? It’s Sami, cofounder of Betches, hi.) I’m writing it because this subject has really struck a cord with me as a Britney fan, and after seeing a literal #FreeBritney protest on social media yesterday, it’s clear that it has for others as well. Also, good to see protests are still hot.
If you’re a Betch Slapped listener, you’ll hear in Tuesday’s episode we revisited the Britney conversation, and Jordana brought up the point that it’s impossible for us to know the state of Britney’s mental health, and whether or not she is actually a danger to herself and needs to be on medications controlled by a conservator. Basically, maybe Britney shouldn’t be #free if she’s a danger to herself, and we are doing damage by running our mouths on sh*t we don’t know. And she’s honestly right about that. The article I wrote last week when this scandal came out had many, many comments to the same effect, which I took seriously. But this issue is less about whether Britney needs to be under conservatorship and receiving mental health treatment, and more about whether or not her conservatorship, necessary or not, is functioning in her best interests.
TMZ reported today (in what, in my opinion, seemed generally like a puff piece fed directly from Jamie Spears’ PR team but I’m no primary source), that the conservatorship doesn’t give Jamie the ability to control what medications Britney is taking or the ability to send her to a mental facility against her will. Sure, but regardless, doesn’t the fact that Jamie Spears is her conservator in the first place provide him with enough power to manipulate her to act in his preferred ways, even if those specific terms are not laid out in the conservatorship?
While it’s impossible to see into the Spears family and know whether or not everything is legit, I don’t think it’s illogical to question the simple idea that a conservator shouldn’t have financial incentives that are tied to the control of their conservatee. Britney Spears’ financial success is directly beneficial to her family, meaning they have less of an incentive to objectively judge whether or not she should be performing at all. It’s really hard for people to be aware of a reality when their financial gain is dependent on them not being aware of it, whether you’re a trillionaire earth-ruining corporation or you’re Jamie Spears from Bumblefuck whose daughter got mind-blowingly famous. His own finances hinge on him not accepting that keeping Britney famous, performing, and forced to meet and greet thousands of strangers is potentially contributing to her mental health issues. It happened in 2007, and it’s not crazy to think it’s happening again.
And here we have the crux of the issue. As Britney fans, all of us are a teeny tiny bit a part of where she’s ended up. …Baby One More Time was the first CD I ever owned and loved, and the girl has been famous since she was 11 f*cking years old. She had no time to personally develop before she started being consumed by other people, so she’s forever stuck there. Not quite the makings of a mentally healthy adult. And it’s not just Britney—it’s hard to name many celebrities who got famous very young (aside from Hilary Duff) who you would categorize as “doing well.”
Since writing this article last night, Britney appeared on her own instagram with a message for her fans. She said: “I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me…Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way. If you could do that, I would be forever grateful.” Then she made some weird allusion to some Sam Lutfi emails that I have no idea the relevance of, but as with any Britney moment, gave us just a big enough whiff of ascandal to take us deeper down the rabbit hole and drag her further down with us. So I’m just not even going to google what those emails are and try to take a new approach to Britney fandom.
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I wanted to say hi, because things that are being said have just gotten out of control!!! Wow!!! There’s rumors, death threats to my family and my team, and just so many things crazy things being said. I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me. Don’t believe everything you read and hear. These fake emails everywhere were crafted by Sam Lutfi years ago… I did not write them. He was pretending to be me and communicating with my team with a fake email address. My situation is unique, but I promise I’m doing what’s best at this moment ??? You may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want! Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way. If you could do that, I would be forever grateful. Love you ❤️❤️❤️
On some level, it feels like Britney fans (and fans in general, sorry we’re not special) have a codependent relationship with the figures we love. We love them so much that we can’t let them be, even if it hurts them. We demand more music, more performances, more smiles and selfies at the meet and greet we spent our hard-earned money to attend. And it’s not even our fault! Celebrities are marketed towards us for their own profit, what else is there? Which is why Britney is different. She doesn’t control her finances or personal decisions, and it’s clear that the fame drives her deeper into a very painful hole that she may never really be able to fully get out of. The sad part is that there’s no real solution, and as someone DM’ed me (this is obviously a well-sourced article): “please don’t fan the flames on this…because if she truly is an unstable person, this is not helping.” Maybe it’s finally time for all of us to really leave Britney alone.
Images: Shutterstock; @britneyspears / Instagram