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Justin Timberlake, star to whom everything seemed to succeed a few years ago, became the laughingstock of TikTok following a performance last month.

The new generation on TikTok is good at making once-acclaimed white men look like seriously uncool people. It is a curse that has now fallen on Justin Timberlake, once prince of pop.

At the turn of the century, Timberlake dominated every facet of pop culture. He was the star of the boy band *NSYNC and the boyfriend of Princess Britney Spears. When those two halves of his life fell apart dramatically, he morphed into a solo superstar. 20 years ago this fall, he printed his mark with justified. Four years later, FutureSex/LoveSounds assured him the confidence and influence of the industry for at least another decade.

In the meantime, he made great attempts to become a movie star. Although many of them ended in failure (you remember Love Guru ?), bright moments like The Social Network and his recurring appearances at Saturday Night Live at least gave the illusion that you should take your acting career seriously.

In recent years, however, things have changed dramatically for him. He took several long breaks between his albums, which eventually elicited reactions ranging from lukewarm to horrified (Man of the Woods of 2018, shall we talk about it?) and it hasn’t exactly taken hold of Hollywood. In addition to some missteps in her career, public opinion about some of her actions as a rising star has shifted, such as about the Super Bowl dress glitch that cost Janet Jackson her career and how he makes Britney Spears look like a villain after their breakup. The reactions were so strong that Timberlake had to issue a public apology to both women, although Jackson and Spears both denied having a grudge against him.

As his past catches up with him, his present seems just as problematic. In 2019, he was spotted holding hands with a co-star while he was (and still is) married to Jessica Biel. A host of articles led to speculation that he cheated on his wife on several occasions and may also be bald.

All of this made it incredibly difficult for Timberlake (who, like many of his turn-of-the-millennium peers, was as well known for his dancing as he was his singing) to survive the public embarrassment of his failed Beat Ya Feet dance. In a viral video of her performance at the festival Something in the Water by Pharrell, who may well weigh on his career more than anything mentioned so far, the teen heartthrob looks like he’s too old for that, for the first time in his music career. It’s as heartbreaking for millennials as it is unbearable for the many TikTok users who spent a week poking fun at how it turned the DC specialty into an Irish jig.

Oddly, Justin Timberlake also apologized for it. At least he did it faster than the other times…

Brittany Spanos

Translated by the editor

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