Check out this Clip from Our Film Dreamworlds 3 for Background on Justin Timberlake’s Recent Apology to Britney Spears


Last week, pop star Justin Timberlake made headlines when he issued an apology to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson for “falling short” and “benefitting from a system that condones misogyny and racism.”

The apology came just days after the release of the harrowing new documentary Framing Britney Spears, which shines harsh new light on the culture of casual sexism, misogyny, and ridicule Spears was forced to navigate, and takes dead aim at how Timberlake treated her after the couple broke up in 2002.

In his apology, Timberlake steered clear of specifics but was widely believed to be responding to two episodes from almost 20 years ago that have roared back into public view in the wake of the documentary: the fierce media backlash against Spears in 2002 after a hit song and video by Timberlake suggested she broke up their relationship by cheating on him, and the even fiercer backlash against Jackson two years later when Timberlake ripped back part of her outfit and exposed her breast in front of hundreds of millions of people during the Super Bowl halftime-show.

As the documentary — and Timberlake’s apology — continue to inspire renewed scrutiny and a full-scale re-examination of how female recording artists and stars have been treated over time, be sure to check out this clip (featured above) from our bestselling video Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex & Power in Music Video. In the clip, MEF executive director Sut Jhally dissects the two episodes at the heart of the current controversy and shows how they link up with the deeply sexist, hypermasculine tropes and stories the music industry, and news and entertainment media more generally, have traded in for decades.

We urge you to use the full version of Dreamworlds 3  in your classes, along with our free discussion guide, to help students critically examine how sexism, misogyny, and regressive ideas about manhood and masculinity have shaped mainstream media narratives over time. The film is available via streamingon DVD, and can be watched through your university or public library on the Kanopy streaming platform. To see if your university subscribes to Kanopy, click here.


Praise for Dreamworlds 3


“After watching Dreamworlds 3, students may continue to look at music videos, but they will never see them the same way again.”
— Michael Kimmel | Professor of Sociology, SUNY Stony Brook

“The role of media images in our everyday lives has never been more powerfully demonstrated.”
— Robin Rieske | President, Action Coalition for Media Education of Vermont

“An invaluable teaching tool. Does a superb job of presenting difficult truths about our hypersexualized, hypermasculinized culture. Never has it been more important for us to confront those truths.”
— Robert Jensen | Professor of Journalism, University of Texas

“Invites far-reaching reflection upon the mutually reinforcing relationship between the content of music videos and the popular culture they reflect and define. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.”
— Library Journal

“Highly recommended. Essential for anyone at all invested in the debate regarding the media’s influence on culture.”
— Educational Media Reviews Online

“A powerful and sobering piece of filmmaking, taking a mundane and familiar subject and presenting it to shocking effect. All young people, raised today on a steady diet of media and music, should be made to watch and discuss the movie, and scholars of popular culture, of gender, and of violence must pay attention to it.”
— Jack David Eller | Anthropology Review Database

“Young adults are exposed to a barrage of media, including music videos, and they should be encouraged to critically evaluate the messages implicit within the medium. If this is one of your goals in the classroom, Dreamworlds 3 can serve you admirably. When we showed it to our Psychology of Women class, the film resonated particularly with black women, some of whom expressed a general frustration and ambivalence toward hip-hop portrayals of women. Several young women, as well as men, stated that the film has helped them to better articulate their own reactions to music videos. The film does not demand that the audience adopt Jhally’s conclusions, but instead asks that viewers begin to develop their own critical eyes.”
— Harmony B. Sullivan and Maureen C. McHugh | Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

“An intelligent meditation on the severely limited and limiting images of women (and men) in the reigning music videos.”
— C.E. Emmer | Emporia State University

— Newsweek

“A scathing examination of pop video’s use and abuse of women.”
— Los Angeles Times