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In the most lukewarm controversy of 2019, musician and actor Justin Timberlake has apologised to his wife for a “strong lapse in judgement” after being photographed holding hands with his co-star Alisha Wainwright.

He popped over to Instagram to release a statement about the debacle via the iPhone Notes app (because what could be more 2019 than that?).

Timberlake stressed that “nothing happened” between him and his co-star, before saying he’d had a lot to drink and apologising to his family.

This story is obviously incredible gossip. It’s all the more juicy because, truthfully, most of us have seen this happen between two people at a party and looked the other way. Plenty of us have also been in the position where we do or say something silly after a few too many drinks, and wake up feeling paralysed by shame the next day. But we’re lucky that, unlike Timberlake, cameras aren’t following our every move.

Timberlake’s indiscretion falls into the “God tear” of gossip that’s unbelievably fun to salivate over, because there’s photographic evidence.

But thankfully we don’t feel too guilty because this story doesn’t have any huge ramifications. Ultimately, who cares?

Come on, people, they’re two adults holding hands!

It’s easy to feel sorry for Timberlake in this situation, but it’s also pretty hard to reconcile his expectation of instant forgiveness with his previous attitudes towards infidelity.

When his relationship with Britney Spears ended, Timberlake famously used his work to deliberately further rumours that she’d cheated on him.

His global smash Cry Me A River, released in the aftermath of the split, depicts him heartbroken and angered by infidelity. The hilariously “mid-2000s” video features an actress who has been purposely styled to look like Spears, complete with blonde hair and hat. See for yourself:

The split with Timberlake led to years of sensationalist, misogynistic coverage of Spears’s private life.

Tribal fan wars waged on and Spears was slut-shamed and interrogated by reporters, even being reduced to tears on one occasion during an interview.

As a teenager, she had publicly stated that she was waiting for marriage to have sex – something she later says she regrets making public. But in 2003, after the pair broke up, Timberlake told reporters that she’d had sex with him, saying:

She lost her virginity a while ago - and I should know.

We’re sure Justin has grown up a lot since 2003. It’s been a long time since he exposed Janet Jackson’s breast at the Super Bowl (another incident he seemed happy to let a woman receive all of the backlash for). But now that he’s married and has grown up a bit, and is asking for forgiveness, we hope that Timberlake is reflecting on times when he hasn’t embodied this virtue himself.

People make mistakes, people drink too much and, yes, people cheat.

It seems to us that women pay for the consequences for years, whereas men are absolved after writing 171-words on the Notes app and posting it on Instagram.

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