Justin Timberlake has been reminded the hard way about good intentions on Twitter – they generally pave the way to hell.
Responding to Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams’ speech at the BET Awards, Timberlake no doubt thought he was doing a nice thing when he tweeted support for the actor.
Jesse’s speech was a call to the industry to acknowledge black culture, instead of ‘extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoising and demeaning our creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit’.
The speech gained plenty of support on social media, including from Justin who tweeted to his 55.6 million followers that he was ‘inspired’ by Williams while also re-tweeting a suggestion that Williams should run for President.
Now, Timberlake’s tweet, without any context or history attached to it, would be harmless. But thousands of people on social media feel that him – and his tweet – prove he is guilty of many of the aspects of cultural appropriation that Jesse Williams was talking about in his speech.
After all, the BET Awards themselves were in part created so that black artists could be given the credit they deserve.
Not to mention Twitter is a cold, hard place – and it wasn’t very long before critics started streaming in.
It was the ‘#inspired’ that caused the problem and sparked backlash:
@jtimberlake inspired to do what? Continue to emulate black culture through your music while ignoring issues affecting black people?— Chrystal (@chrystallll) June 27, 2016
@jtimberlake @iJesseWilliams Did you like the part when Jesse talked about white people stealing from us? That should resonate with you.— sockruhtese (@sockruhtese) June 27, 2016
@jtimberlake he was talking about ppl like u though. Not Protecting black women. Gentrification of our art.— MDW (@dcjanfan) June 27, 2016
Others were quick to mention Janet Jackson:@jtimberlake when you figure out that you specifically are the problem he was talking about, let us know. hashtag it.— Cody Kemmer (@codykemmer) June 27, 2016
@dcjanfan @jtimberlake— Tv Geek (@FelNez63) June 27, 2016
Yeah, like how you threw Janet under the bus.
Left her hanging, talking all the backlash from Nipple Gate.
Another wrote: “So does this mean you’re going to stop appropriating our music and culture? And apologise to Janet too. #BETAwards.”@chrystallll @dcjanfan @jtimberlake and the black titty he ripped out? We didn't forget. Then he shades Prince.— schoolboundagain (@back2skoolagain) June 27, 2016
Janet Jackson, lest you forget, was the victim of the Superbowl ‘wardrobe malfunction’ when Justin accidentally tore her costume and flashed her nipples in front of millions of fans worldwide.
But Justin went on to explain himself:
I feel misunderstood. I responded to a specific tweet that wasn't meant to be a general response. I shouldn't have responded anyway...— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) June 27, 2016
I forget this forum sometimes... I was truly inspired by @iJesseWilliams speech because I really do feel that we are all one... A human race— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) June 27, 2016
Obviously, this was met with more criticism.I apologize to anyone that felt I was out of turn. I have nothing but LOVE FOR YOU AND ALL OF US.— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) June 27, 2016
Twitter’s reaction? Less than caring:
But for all the criticism, the ‘Cry Me A River’ singer did get some support.
@Weeeeerkaholic @jtimberlake all k see is him giving Jesse props... Y'all are just dragging him 🙄 we should all unite, not be divided.— pusher love girl (@PLG_JT2020) June 27, 2016
I don’t think Justin was trying to cause shit on Twitter by showing his support for the actor’s speech, but it’s very strongly viewed otherwise on social media.@sockruhtese @jtimberlake @iJesseWilliams steal what?? He's always said he was inspired by many musical icons. Both black & white...— pusher love girl (@PLG_JT2020) June 27, 2016