Everyone Is Laughing About Justin Timberlake Saying 'Fo-Shizz,' But The Joke Is Hiding An Ugly Dark Side Of His Previous Persona

Are his bad decisions finally catching up to him?

Justin Timberlake Denis Makaranko / Shutterstock

Britney Spears’ memoir “The Woman In Me” made its earthside debut on October 24, 2024, and fans have been rejoicing that she’s telling her story, in what seem to be her own unbridled terms. There’s one section in particular that has her fans in stitches — Spears’ memory of an awkward, problematic run-in between her ex, Justin Timberlake, and rapper Ginuwine. 

Former "Dawson’s Creek" ingénue, Michelle Williams, narrated the audiobook for Spears’ memoir, and her reading of the Timberlake/Ginuwine incident has been exploding online.


Williams read Spears’ words in her poised and polished fashion, which worked to highlight just how outrageous Timberlake’s behavior was. Williams fully committed to the role, which has won her huge internet accolades and calls for her to win a Grammy.

Yet the humor in Britney Spears’ excerpt about Ginuwine hides the not-so-quiet dark side of Justin Timberlake’s persona.

It would be easy to frame Timberlake’s greeting to Ginuwine as a hilarious, cringe moment, and nothing more. But to do that overlooks how Timberlake has continuously appropriated Black culture without negative repercussions. 


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A woman named Natalie posted a TikTok response to the ick involved in Timberlake’s encounter with Ginuwine, saying, “We let him get away with way too much.”


She superimposed her face over the video, reacting to clips of Timberlake using African American Vernacular English (AAVE) over and over — on "Saturday Night Live," in concerts, and during interviews. She showed him beatboxing, as she tipped her head back, laughing incredulously.



“Who could forget this? Natalie asked, as a photo of Timberlake came on screen, wearing a bandana, his hair in cornrows. 

“What was this?” she asked, once again incredulous, pointing out a second photo of Timberlake, wearing a “bullet-proof vest, sagging pants with boxers showing. Pager attached to the bandana, and is that… Africa around his neck?” Natalie exclaimed, referring to the gold necklace he had on.


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The general public finds the 'fo shizz' moment funny, yet Timberlake shouldn’t get a pass for this, or really, for much of how he’s behaved throughout his career.

Timberlake has consistently benefited from his past behavior, coming out mostly unscathed from multiple incidents of weaponizing misogyny and racial inequity in his favor: how he dragged Spears after their 2001 breakup, and the way he ripped Janet Jackson’s clothes at the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Yet despite those incidents, he continued making music that garnered critical admiration. He kept making money. His social capital didn’t suffer the way the women he’d harmed did.

He profited off an entire culture without understanding any of the implications of his behavior. As TheGrio succinctly put it, "He’s a white artist who gains popularity and commerce by incorporating Blackness into his act. And he does this without fully entrenching himself into the hardships of Black Americans."


Timberlake has positioned himself in a way where it seems nothing can truly take him down. He maintains the ultimate white male privilege — to behave in ways that hurt people while profiting.

People can change, if they hold themselves truly accountable to past mistakes and work in the present to change how they exist in the world. For Timberlake, that remains to be seen.

With “The Woman In Me,” Spears is rewriting her own history and simultaneously revealing the not-so-pretty side of Timberlake’s public persona — one that's been there all along.


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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.