No but seriously, is this an apology? Or an advance promotional opportunity for his film, Palmer? Because it starts as an apology…and ends as a plug. Isn’t that what we all want out of an apology? For someone to say sorry and then pivot to them telling you about their new project? Well, that’s how Justin Timberlake does it. Breathtaking, isn’t it? His narcissism is breathtaking. 

So here’s what JT posted on Instagram late yesterday: 


A post shared by Justin Timberlake (@justintimberlake) on

For those of you who are thinking this was written by a publicist – if that’s the case, it was written by a junior publicist, because no one with any experience in PR and Communications or who’s been properly trained in PR and Communications would have used “strong” as an adjective as a modifier for “lapse in judgement”. It’s sh-tty writing, unnecessary flair that says more about the writer than about the behaviour he’s trying to address. And it makes even less sense using “strong” at the beginning of the sentence when you’re concluding it with “nothing happened between me and my costar”. One undermines the other. Was it “strong” or was it “nothing”?!

But the story here isn’t Justin’s poor word choices (he’s always been a terrible lyricist), it’s the timing of the apology, and why it’s been put out there. The immediate “why” is because he was photographed drunk a couple of weeks ago with his costar at a bar in New Orleans holding hands and looking pretty …familiar. Shortly after, his costar, Alisha Wainwright, released a statement via her rep denying that anything inappropriate had gone down. Sources close to Justin spoke to several entertainment outlets, including PEOPLE and E! News, downplaying the incident, saying that JT and Alisha are just friends and that any suggestion otherwise is absurd. 

After that, it was American Thanksgiving. Everybody checked out. All entertainment news slowed down save for Gabrielle Union vs America’s Got Talent. No one was talking about JT past last Thursday, and even then it was barely a trickle. JT was not a headline on Thanksgiving weekend. And after Thanksgiving, most people had pretty much forgotten. Until now. Until this apology. The “gossip”, as JT disparagingly refers to it, was gone. (As if “gossip” always lies. If you’ve been visiting this site over the years, you know that “gossip” is communication, it has social value – a fact already established by academic research.)  

This, then, is what JT wanted. That’s the ideal in any crisis management situation, if you can call this a crisis. You want it to die down. You want it to “blow over”. In JT’s case, it blew over pretty quickly. He didn’t need to apologise publicly for this to blow over. His apology, then, isn’t about reputation, it was a publicity strategy. Rather, his apology is about the private – and so the takeaway here, ironically, is that his apology is telling us something about what’s going on behind the camera, in his own personal space. 
Nothing about the situation, publicly, demanded that he address the issue with an open apology. That an open apology was delivered, however, gives us insight into what might be happening at home. 

When I wrote about this story as it was breaking and the photos of JT on that bar balcony were published, I wondered about Jessica Biel and how she would take it – that there are some people who could shrug it off, unbothered by this sh-t and there are others (like me) who would be homicidal: 

“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.”

To me, this apology answers that question. To me, he isn’t apologising because he was advised by his publicist, he is apologising because he is in some deep ass sh-t with his wife. He embarrassed her publicly and he will f-cking apologise publicly to even the score. And f-ck it, I’m with her. If it were me, since I’m that petty, I would want the same. 

But, again, he couldn’t even do that, he couldn’t even give her that, without making it about himself in the end. Just like it was on their wedding day when he had to jump on her head in their PEOPLE Magazine wedding feature, making himself the big draw on the cover. In this case, when she’s the one who’s the most hurt and the most humiliated, he’s caps off the apology by telling people about his new film. What a selfless and supportive husband, so generous with his contrition. 

Attached - Justin Timberlake on the set of Palmer the other day and Jessica Biel out in LA on Tuesday.