Trolls Band Together: It's Been A Bad Week For Justin Timberlake

Earlier this week, when the news hit about Justin Timberlake’s arrest on a DWI charge in the Hamptons, the buzzy beach retreat in Long Island, N.Y., the story started to dominate newscasts and the internet, pushing way weightier subjects like war and global politics off the docket.

Then, the schadenfreude over the fall of this particular celebrity, a popular entertainer for decades who had taken time off in his 30s, took off virally.

Quickly, murky video footage appeared showing Timberlake behind the wheel of a BMW, after hours, running a stop sign and swerving on a vacant main drag in the charming town of Sag Harbor.

Literally, in police terms, it was called “failure to stay in his lane.”

He’d been picked up by the Sag Harbor cops while following a friend’s car after having had a late night at the American Hotel, a historic bar for both locals and A-listers.



Fortunately, the streets were empty, so he didn’t injure anyone. None of this is funny. Also odd was that he planned to have drinks and drive himself.

But given what has already become a classic celebrity-in-denial play, I had already imagined him issuing a statement explaining that he’d had “some wine with dinner.”

When his bloodshot, glassy-eyed mugshot was released, it was concerning. Timberlake was no Nick Nolte, of course, but his eyes did reveal his intoxicated state.

His subsequent announcement, however, about having had “one martini,” earned him massive scorn online, with memes popping up everywhere showing skyscraper-sized martini glasses.

Another sort of embarrassment was yet to come, when it was reported that the officer who pulled Timberlake over was so young that he had no idea who the former lead and cutest NSYNC-er was, until he heard him say, “This will ruin the tour.” 

In late April, the singer launched his “The Forget Tomorrow World Tour“ in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It’s his first tour in five years, but it has not been going well, and ticket sales have been lackluster.

The 10-time Grammy winner had to cancel his June 8 concert in Columbia, South Carolina without explanation.

He’s still on schedule to appear in Chicago this weekend and in Madison Square Garden in New York City next week.

But somewhere in the land of “You can’t make this stuff up” Hamptons staple, the elder statesman singer Billy Joel was also hanging outside the hotel as the incident was hitting headlines.

Joel himself had swerved off a road in Sag Harbor in 2003 and crashed his Mercedes into a tree. He was hospitalized but not arrested.

Given his own experience, a more philosophical Piano Man warned the press who were starting to swarm the place.

Looking and sounding like a wizened wise man in baseball cap, Joel warned, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

But that’s part of the problem for Timberlake. He has publicly lectured his former fiancé Britney Spears to stop drinking. So there’s gloating in that camp. She also recently released a memoir revealing unappealing parts in their relationship that made him look like a hypocrite.

Speaking of which, the former Mouseketeer actually took part in a Budweiser Super Bowl spot promoting “responsible drinking,” way back in 2001, which has resurfaced. Shot when NSYNC was the dominant boy band, he appears with his bandmates as they ring the doorbell of a house in a leafy suburb. A dad answers.

Lance Bass introduces the group and tells the confused father, “Hey, we are NSYNC.”

The dad looks glazed, not understanding. Timberlake says, “We are just going door to door to say 'thanks',” when Joey Fatone adds, “for talking to your kids about drinking.”

JC Chasez closes the message, saying, “With all our success, you are still a bigger influence on our kids than we are.”

Then the dad goes upstairs. His teenage daughter asks who was there. The dad had no idea except to say it was some boy band. She screams and runs out the door, in search of them.

After a brief hearing, Timberlake of 2024 was banned from driving for a year in New York and was released without bail. His hearing comes up in July.

But his arrest was an archetypical part of the fame cycle of a star who started as a kid, had many successful incarnations, and started sinking in middle age.

Eventually, he’ll need to apologize, own up about his struggle with alcohol, and perhaps announce a trip to rehab.

The biggest irony? Maybe this embarrassing, humiliating, intervention-demanding viral experience will register with younger observers and former fans, resulting in filling the stands for his tour.


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