Sorry, Timbers, this is not the way to apologise to the missus

Barbara Ellen
Photograph: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

How wonderfully modern that Justin Timberlake took to Instagram to apologise to his wife, Jessica Biel.

After being snapped looking inebriated on a balcony, holding hands with his Palmer co-star Alisha Wainwright, Timberlake began his Insta-soz post saying: “I stay away from gossip as much as I can.” Of course you do, you marvellous, honourable man! Timbers continued: “A few weeks ago I displayed a strong lapse of judgment – but let me clear – nothing happened with my co-star… I drank way too much that night and I regret my behaviour… I apologise to my amazing wife and family… I am focused on being the best husband and father I can be…” Blah blah, yak yak.

The post ends with a reference to Palmer – because, hey ladeez, nothing says “sorry” more meaningfully than a film-plug.

There’s nothing wrong with an apology, but why did it have to happen on social media? One presumes, as husband and wife, Timberlake and Biel have occasional face-time access to each other (schedules permitting)? And aren’t celebrities constantly gassing about media invasions of their privacy? Yet here’s Timberlake invading his own privacy, blasting out an apology to Biel rather strangely in front of the world, and humiliating Wainwright (the “co-star”; it would appear that no name is necessary) in the process.

I’d love to think that this was Biel’s doing: “Oi, you messed up in public – you can apologise in public too.” Sadly, one suspects that this wasn’t so much an apology as a brand-announcement to repair Timberlake’s reputation. So, it’s technically more of an apology to his agent and marketing team. Next time Timberlake needs to apologise to his wife, maybe he should consider doing it with a big bunch of flowers and a box of Milk Tray – even better, some humility and sincerity behind firmly closed doors.

• Barbara Ellen is an Observer columnist