You cannot call yourself a pop culture enthusiast if you don’t know this photo, I’m sorry. Britney Spears is a popstar beyond borders, famous around the world, no matter the culture. And her relationship with Justin Timberlake is known around the world, no matter the culture. There would be no Justin Timberlake, the way he’s considered today, without Britney Spears – don’t @ me. We all know that a big part of his early rise was because he was the member of NSYNC who happened to be her boyfriend. And that a big part of his solo album success was because he told her to cry a river.
So since I’ve been leaning way into the Gossip Nostalgia this week, I’m giving you one of the most iconic gossip photos of the last 20 years, with a moment that is, today, exactly 20 years old.
LOOK AT THEM!
This was the American Music Awards on January 8, 2021. A more innocent time, before the bad times. When Pinky loved Stinky, when young love was in full bloom, when she was, literally, the biggest f-cking deal, and the two of them together represented the ultimate pop culture fantasy: an all-American pop provocateur with the pigtails and the short skirt, a classic mix of innocence and temptation, and the boy she decided she would be her Prom King.
To the point where they showed up in matching, um, country prom outfits?!
And gave us an image that will never age, will never fade, will never not be hilarious and bittersweet, the symbol of its time. So much of what we need to know about pop culture is captured in this one shot of Britney and Justin: how we looked, who we obsessed over, how f-cking unprepared we all were – it’s all here in a strapless jean dress next to a jean tuxedo with a jean cowboy hat…OH MY GOD.
I’ll leave you now to your memories. This moment in Gossip Nostalgia was brought to you by, what else, DENIM!