An Analysis of HBO Performance Music Specials - Britney vs Justin

Is the music industry plagued with bias?

Justin Timberlake at a concert in St. Paul, Minnesota (2007.)

Justin Timberlake at a concert in St. Paul, Minnesota (2007.) Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Justin Timberlake's HBO Special “FutureSex/LoveSounds” ran for the first time on HBO on Labor Day 2007. In the show Justin proceeded to perform hits from his first two solo albums. The music portion of the show was on par. However, the performance also included two finger flip off’'s directly to the camera from Justin, about four or five lingerie prancing dancers in his song "Damn Girl", a segment where Justin proceeds to do a round of hard alcohol shots with his performers and the audience, one shot of a slimy sucked-on finger and more than a handful of F-word quotes. Yet, in the news all I can seem to find are rave reviews of Justin's artistic skills as a musician. Oh, and one article blasting Britney Spears for using the F-word in a few of her leaked songs.This is a double standard. Is it fair for Justin to go unpunished while Britney's already highly stressed image is torn to tattered pieces by smiling news anchors reading day-old copy of news stories only written to get ratings. Is the music industry plagued with bias?

First off, the sex issue. I don't mean gender, I mean sex, as in sexual references used by musicians. Ever since Britney was in her teens, the media has been telling us that she is too sexy. Posing in her bra and boxers for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine at age sixteen, she made headlines for this “inappropriate” behavior. But the fact is, there is more damage done in Justin's demeaning of women that Britney. Britney is the headliner, she can wear whatever she wants-it is her gamble to take. She loses if the tickets don't sell. But Justin chooses to use his sidekick dancers to pump up the sex appeal. There's nothing like a few scantly clad dancers crawling on the floor to get peoples attention.

Now the cursing. The facts are that Justin said F-**k many times in his show and it goes unnoticed. Britney's new song leaked this week has the same curse words, yet is written up as headline news by FOX in an article titled, Britney Uses F-word on New Track. There is no clearer example of a double standard for Britney, and perhaps all female musicians. Perhaps we should take a deeper look at the gender bias in the music industry before we judge performers by their on-stage acts.

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For more analysis of the gender bias in the music industry visit the unofficial Britney Spears comeback website at

Copyright © 2007 Kathleen Patalsky