In case you missed it, and I’m pretty sure if you’re here today you haven’t missed it, the Sun secured first rights on Saturday to paparazzi video and photos of Justin Timberlake in New Orleans, where he’s been shooting a movie, on the balcony of a bar holding hands and getting knee-touched by co-star Alisha Wainwright. Alisha’s publicist has already issued a statement saying that, “There is no validity to the speculation”. And sources have already lined up explanations to most major entertainment outlets including PEOPLE and E! News insisting that “there’s nothing going on” between them, that they are simply co-stars, that they were all out together and that we should move on, OK everyone? There’s nothing to see here. 

So I guess the only thing we can say for sure is that JT was smashed. If you watch the video, he looks blitzed. If you watch the video though, at one point he also appears to stroke the side of Alisha’s body when she’s standing next to him. And then there’s the hand on the knee and the handholding part. But they must have gotten really close from working together, you know? A film set is often like camp (I think? I’ve never been to camp) – it’s a tight-knit environment, it becomes like a cocoon, a bond develops among the people within it. They are the only ones who understand, completely, the world you are building together. But wait. People make out a lot at camp too, camp hookups are a thing, right? OK maybe that wasn’t a great example. But my point is… 

This could have totally been a case of one friend caring for another, one friend looking out for another. And that’s certainly how they’re spinning it, as hard as that might be for some people to believe. Because of course they have a gossip memory. This was the cover of old school Us Weekly (when Us Weekly wasn’t owned by the same publisher as the Enquirer and Star and Radar) in October 2010:


And this was the cover of Us Weekly in March 2011 shortly after Justin and Jessica Biel confirmed they’d broken up:


A few months later, in a Vanity Fair cover story in June 2011, it sounded like JT was trying to get her back. 

“I would rather not talk about her, because it’s hurtful for me,” he says. They released a joint statement about their breakup, but the tabloids still took sides and assigned blame. “It’s unfortunate that even though you make the effort to say something, which I tried on for size, people do what they want to do,” says Timberlake. “I don’t want to say much more, because I have to protect things that are dear to me—for instance, her. She is the single-handedly most significant person in my life. In my 30 years, she is the most special person, O.K.? So I protect it, and until somebody shows me what would be more fulfilling at this point, that’s what I have to do.” With a breakup at 30, it’s hard not to think that it doesn’t have something to do with marriage, or the lack of a desire to have one. Does he want to get married? “I don’t know,” says Timberlake. “If that’s what it takes for two people to make it official, then yeah, but I think that my generation looks at marriage differently.” Doesn’t he want a family? He’s silent for a while. “I do,” he says. “And as little as six months ago I wouldn’t have even thought about that, but now it feels like a closer planet orbiting around.”

A month after that they were back together. And by the end of the year he had proposed. It’s been smooth and clear ever since. Until now? Depends on how you see it. There are some people out there who aren’t bothered by JT getting messy while on location and photographed suggestively with a colleague. They say they wouldn’t be concerned about their partners being attracted to a co-star, they see this at most as harmless flirting. They believe that marriages are built on trust and that if you want your marriage to last, you have to trust that your partner is naturally going to be drawn to other people from time to time and that it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s been a betrayal. Me? I’m not a cool girl like that. I am the opposite of cool girl. I am intense. I am not relaxed. I wouldn’t be able to shrug this off like, oh yeah, I’m so modern and enlightened, I get the human nature that’s happening here. I mean, of course, my husband and I are often attracted to other people. That said, my husband and I aren’t drunk with those other people and letting our hands wander to places on the body that, when touched, suggest a certain familiarity. If it were me, I would be homicidal. 

So which one is Jessica Biel? Is she the cool girl, the one who plays it like she’s too chill and easygoing to worry about this kind of thing? Or is she homicidal? Third option? She’s homicidal but she fronts like she’s cool girl.

And will there be any fallout? I don’t think there will be fallout. There may be a set of pap shots coming soon of Justin and Jessica smiling and happy. Could there even be a pregnancy in the first half of 2020? My point is, whatever the truth of what happened on that bar balcony in New Orleans, there is no way they’re going to legitimise this as a problem. There is no way that “me first” Justin Timberlake is going to wear this. This is our fault, the tabloids’ fault. He’s the victim here. How dare we inconvenience him this way.