Justin Timberlake Enters The Backlash Zone [Opinion]

Deserved or not, Justin Timberlake has entered the backlash phase of his career.

Phillip FaraoneGetty Images

Justin Timberlake is getting ready to release a new single, album, and perform at the 2018 Super Bowl. According to CNN, Timberlake just will release his first single “Filthy” on Friday. His album Man of the Woods will be released on February 2, two days before his Super Bowl performance.

“This album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family, but more so than any other album I’ve ever written, where I’m from – it’s personal,” Timberlake is quoted as saying in the Independent.

Whether Timberlake deserves it or not (he mostly doesn’t), he is facing a huge backlash from people who think he screwed over Janet Jackson (there’s only partial truth to that), is getting hate from the “cultural appropriation” crowd (how dare he work with black musicians), and is also being bashed by those who think he is simply overrated.

The Outline accuses Timberlake of re-branding himself as a white man.

“The trailer for Timberlake’s new album Man of the Woods presents the former NSYNC heartthrob looking pensive in various natural settings, hitting every note of the ‘white man finding himself in the empty West’ trope that has long been part of America’s romantic fictional past (and Levi’s commercials).”

Some seem to think that because Timberlake is going for more of a mature and folksy sound, he is abandoning the hip-hop sound that made him a star. Miley Cyrus, who denounced her hip-hop past when trying to became a legit country star again, was accused of the same thing.

Twitter has been digging into Justin Timberlake the past couple days for this.

However, perhaps people should wait until Timberlake’s new material actually comes out. After all, much of the new material is produced with Timbaland, a prominent African-American producer who has helped Timberlake become a music superstar in the past. For all we know, the album may still heavily be influenced by hip-hop.

The thing that still buzzes the most around Justin Timberlake is his participation in 2004’s Nipplegate, the event that strengthened conservatives and hurt (but not wrecked) Janet Jackson’s career. Yes, there was a double standard to the event. Justin Timberlake, the man who removed Janet Jackson’s breast plate, barely received any backlash.

Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction
Much of the backlash against Timberlake has to do with something that happened 14 years ago.Featured image credit: Donald MiralleGetty Images

However, one has to remember that this wasn’t his performance; it was Janet’s. She went behind the backs of people at MTV and the NFL by planning this stunt. Then, Janet issued a laughable apology. Perhaps it would have helped had Ms. Jackson been completely honest about her intentions. The backlash against her was not Justin Timberlake’s doing, even though he certainly could have supported her more.

All influential media personalities who threw fire into the Justin Timberlake backlash need to ask themselves if it is really worth it. Justin can be annoying, but he isn’t a bad person. Mr. Timberlake may not completely comprehend black culture, but he’s not a racist. There are far worse artists out there.

Perhaps people need to appreciate artists like Justin Timberlake while they are still alive. After all, the same people bashing him now will probably be downloading his songs if (God forbid) he dies in the near future. Justin Timberlake does not deserve all the hatred he is currently receiving.