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    Here's Exactly How Justin Timberlake Used Britney Spears For The Last 20 Years

    Looking back it all makes sense.

    Well, well, well. Here we are again.

    Fox

    Following the airing of the Framing Britney Spears documentary, there is renewed focus on Justin Timberlake's career.

    Britney exiting a vehicle with Justin right behind her
    Arnaldo Magnani / Getty Images

    As a Britney Spears fan, I have been following this narrative for a VERY long time and am extremely knowledgeable in the Justin Timberlake media workings.

    Britney posing for photos with Justin and other members of N'Sync
    J. Emilio Flores / Getty Images

    Before I go any further, I just want to say, Britney has obviously moved on from this relationship. She is always dancing to Justin Timberlake songs on her Instagram. I just think it's interesting to see what was really happening when we were growing up in the early 2000s. How things really were.

    Without further ado, let's get right into it.

    Fox

    In 2002, Britney and Justin broke up.

    Justin and Britney holding hands and smiling
    Lucy Nicholson / Getty Images

    They dated for approximately three years.

    Paul J. Richards / Getty Images

    That same year, Justin went solo.

    Justin walking out of a building wearing a beanie, leather jacket, and jeans
    Arnaldo Magnani / Getty Images

    Justin was trying to get away from that whole boy band ramen noodle hair thing. He had just broken up with the biggest pop star in the world, and whew boy, was this the PERFECT time for him to go solo.

    The cover is US Weekly with the headline, Britney & Justin: It's Over"
    Us Weekly / April 1, 2002 / Via usmagazine.com

    His first single, "Like I Love You," wasn't doing so hot. It peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, hardly a successful lead single for someone who was part of one the most successful musical acts of the early ’00s.

    That’s when it appears a new PR strategy came into play: Let's talk about Britney Spears.

    Cover of Hello! magazine with the headline: Never Before Seen Pictures Britney and Justin and the Happy Times That They Shared
    Hello! / September 30, 2003

    Let's drag her to filth.

    Luckily for Justin, the media was already on his side. He played his cards right and Britney was labeled the betrayer...

    US Weekly / September 2, 2002 / Via usmagazine.com

    This cover ran on Sept. 2, 2002.

    ...and he was "solo and sexy."

    Us Weekly cover with the headline: Justin - On My Own
    US Weekly / September 9, 2002 / Via usmagazine.com

    This cover came out a week after the one calling Britney the betrayer.

    The narrative had been set.

    Us Weekly cover headline: "Her Surprise New Man, Britney's Revenge?"
    Us Weekly / Via usmagazine.com

    And now it was time to profit.

    Justin Timberlake holding two Grammy awards he won
    Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images

    Let the media circus begin.

    We'll start with Justin's infamous Barbara Walters interview where Justin played the sorry man and Britney played "the horrible woman."

    View this video on YouTube

    ABC / youtube.com

    In the interview, Justin tells Barbara he promised Britney he wouldn't say why they specifically broke up.

    ABC

    Justin denies that any songs on his album were about her but then plays a song on the piano called "Horrible Woman."

    ABC

    These are the lyrics: "I thought our love was so strong / I guess I was dead wrong / But to look at it positively, hey girl / At least you gave me another song about a horrible woman."

    ABC

    Then, like a true class act, when asked if BRITNEY kept her promise to wait to have sex until marriage, Justin says "sure" and bursts out into laughter.

    ABC

    And this was just ONE interview during the time period.

    There's a 10-minute video on YouTube of Justin talking about Britney while promoting this album — 10 minutes!

    View this video on YouTube

    ABC / youtube.com

    Meanwhile, Britney was berated by Diane Sawyer.

    ABC/Hulu/FX

    The war was on, but it was clearly an unfair battle to begin with.

    us magazine cover of britney spears and justin timberlake after a break up, the text on the magazine reads the war is on
    US Weekly / December 23, 2002 / Via usmagazine.com

    In December, after his first single was only a moderate success and failed to have real impact, Justin released his second single, "Cry Me a River," featuring the infamous Britney lookalike.

    Justin walking behind the lookalike who's wearing a newsboy cap and talking on the phone

    On his "Let's Talk About Britney Press Tour," Justin kept on "denying" the song and video were actually about her. When asked what the music video was about on TRL, Justin said: "The video is not about her. The video is about me."

    Justin standing next to TRL host Quddus
    Scott Gries / Getty Images

    Huh?

    On Ellen, he dodges the "Is it about Britney?" question by literally sipping tea like a true stunt queen.

    NBC / youtube.com

    Then the Details interview.

    In an interview with Details, Justin randomly bashed Britney's career decision to make the movie Crossroads. He said: "If she had a clue, she wouldn't have made [Crossroads]."

    Details / Conde Nast / December / ebay.com

    Rude coming from the man who would go on to star in The Love Guru.

    He tells Sharon Osbourne he just wasn't impressed with the Britney/Madonna 2003 VMA performance: "It's not that I was upset with it. I just wasn't impressed."

    Britney, Madonna, and Christina Aguilera performing
    MTV

    What even?

    And in an interview with Hot 97, he said, "I did it. I'm dirty" when asked if he had "oral intercourse"* with her.

    Vince Bucci / Getty Images

    *A question he could have easily avoided.

    In 2006, four years after their breakup and when he was dating Cameron Diaz, Justin had a new album to promote, so he employed his foolproof strategy: bring up Britney, again.

    Peter Kramer / Getty Images

    In an interview with GQ, Justin said: "I felt like she had a couple of opportunities to just sort of stick up for me, and she didn't. Which is fine. But at that time, you know, I fought back, and that's the way I fought back. I used my mind. I came up with a song."

    Evan Agostini / Getty Images

    He thought Britney should have stuck up for him? Wait, what?

    Britney with a look of disbelief on her face
    ABC

    Then he went back to his bread and butter and released basically a sequel to "Cry Me a River" called "What Goes Around Comes Around."

    View this video on YouTube

    CMRRA / youtube.com

    In 2008, we're now six years after their breakup, Justin inducted Madonna into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and used this opportunity to make a Britney jab.

    Justin said "The world has always been full of Madonna wannabes, I might have even dated a couple"

    Then, at a 2013 concert, 11 years after their breakup, he gave some speech where he was like: "Sometimes in life, you think you found the one. Then you find out that she was just a bitch."

    cosmopolitan.com

    It should be noted that afterwards, Justin denied that the comment was about Britney. He tweeted: "Ok. I see you. Wouldn't disrespect ANYONE personally. Ever. #Relax #ItsBritneyBitch I do love that saying though *with accent* #Respect."

    Finally, in 2016, 14 years after their breakup, he still put Britney on subtle blast.

    Vanity Fair Italia AUGUST 16, 2016 / Via vanityfair.it

    When VF Italia asked Justin if he needed to be "depressed or tormented" in order to write a good song, he brought up "Cry Me a River." He said: “Depends. In the past, suffering has helped me compose songs. ‘Cry Me a River’ was written in a time of pain, like everyone knows…”

    In conclusion, there is clearly a way to play the media, and Justin's PR people were very good at it!

    Throwback photo of Justin, wearing a bandana, Abercrombie sweatshirt and track pants, as he walks with Britney, who's wearing a baseball cap and ripped jeans
    Jason Kirk / Getty Images

    But this is a bigger problem than Justin Timberlake. It's a narrative that famous women have always been placed in.

    Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

    In the words of Christina Aguilera:

    "If you look back in history/ It's a common double standard of society/They guy gets all the glory the more he can score/While the girl can do the same and yet you call her a whore"

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