As rumors about Justin Timberlake and actress Alisha Wainwright spread this weekend, many fans looked back on the story of Britney Spears allegedly cheating on Timberlake when they were teenagers. Fans were deeply invested in their pop star romance about 20 years ago, and some think there is a serious double standard at play now.
Timberlake was spotted apparently holding hands with Wainwright in paparazzi photos published on Saturday night. The 37-year-old is married to actress Jessica Biel, and fans feared the worst when they saw him with his arm around his new Palmer co-star.
With that in mind, fans are already dredging up the old cheating scandal between Timberlake and Britney Spears. At the time, both were at the height of their pop stardom, and fans remembered them well from The Mickey Mouse Club. They seemed like a perfect fit until 2002, when they split.
According to a report by Cheat Sheet, the rumor at the time was that Spears had cheated on Timberlake with choreographer Wade Robson. In 2003, Timberlake told a Rolling Stone interviewer that he had been cheated on three times. Then, of course, came Timberlake's belated breakup ballad "Cry Me A River," which was widely understood to be about Spears.
In the last few years, fans have taken a retrospective look at all of this material and determined that Timberlake handled himself poorly. A comprehensive Twitter thread listed the details last February, and a report by Cosmopolitan's Emily Tannenbaum broke down the optics of the situation a few months later.
On Saturday, as the photos of Timberlake and Wainwright circulated, it all came bubbling back up again. For some fans, it was their first real look at the 20-year-old scandal all at once, and they were shocked. For others, it was just a fresh opportunity to re-state their existing convictions.
Britney Spears reading about Justin Timberlake getting caught on video cheating on his wife pic.twitter.com/nCTZKmMlgn— Songbird (@xsongbird07) November 24, 2019
"Justin is trash and Britney was right. Period," one fan tweeted on Sunday morning.
"JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE HAS AND ALWAYS WILL BE AN A—HOLE FOR NOT STANDING BY BRITNEY SPEARS AND CHEATING ON HIS WIFE!" added another. "HE PROFITED OFF OF NONSENSE FOR YEARS ON THE BACK OF BRITNEY SPEARS! HE'S BEEN THE REAL CHEATER ALL ALONG. BRITNEY SPEARS, JUSTICE 15+ YEARS LATER HAS BEEN SERVED!!!"0comments
Many fans also re-posted an old viral video where Spears sang a bar from "Cry Me A River," mocking Timberlake and calling his song "p—fied." They thought the clip perfectly summed up the situation as far the the Internet was concerned.
This clip of Britney Spears ending Justin Timberlake will never get old. pic.twitter.com/3i6etbjT8g— Britney Fan (@BritneyHiatus) November 16, 2019