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Framing Britney Spears: The Dark Side of Pop Royalty

Britney Spears is arguably one of the most influential pop stars to ever live. So it is a wonder to most how she ended up where she is today.

Framing Britney Spears, a recently-released Hulu documentary from the New York Times, takes a deep look into the situation she is in. Some close to Britney participated in the documentary, and it includes countless interviews from fans, legal teams, and journalists. The documentary tells the story of Britney’s rise to fame as well as her very public personal life. They also delve into her current situation with her conservatorship. Currently, Britney is still under conservatorship of her father, Jamie Spears.

The documentary shows the legal battle that played out in court as well as what can still be done to help pop star Britney Spears. An interesting point the documentary brings up is the misogyny Britney has faced her whole career. They show interviews from her early career of her being asked incredibly personal questions including “Are you a virgin?” and being asked at just 10 years old, “Do you have a boyfriend? Why not?”

Britney Spears 2There are many other examples shown of the media actively trying to make her a villain. The film places emphasis on Britney’s true talent and work ethic, and she is praised by former coworkers and friends. They try to focus on the real Britney as well, who is an independent woman who worked for what she has. Yet she is not able to celebrate her success due to the strict rules of her father’s conservatorship.

They also look into how Britney was painted in the media when she shaved her head and attacked paparazzi in 2007. Since then, Britney has been called “crazy” and “unstable” by the public just from these images. In reality, the clips shown of Britney being asked these uncomfortable questions prove how resilient she was. In all her responses she refused to answer and expressed discomfort. It can be assumed this is why paparazzi continued to bother her.

The “Free Britney” movement was started by loyal fans who began to notice strange posts made by Britney on her social media. They included her alone in a big house, sometimes just staring at the camera. This led to many fans sharing their thoughts on the app TikTok. Since then thousands have posted their supports as well as shown up to the court to defend Britney. Britney is currently still under conservatorship until September 2021, and she has been subject to this arrangement since she was 26 years old.

According to court documents, Britney has explicitly asked for Jamie to be “suspended immediately”. Felicia Culotta, a long time friend of Britney’s as well as her former assistant says in the documentary, “To be honest, I didn’t then, nor do I now, understand what a conservatorship is, especially for somebody Britney’s age, and for somebody capable of so much that I know firsthand she’s capable of.”

A former lawyer of Britney’s claims that Britney at the time knew fully what was happening and could make sound decisions for herself, even going as far as to say who she wants to be in control.

“The second thing was, she said, ‘I don’t want my father to be the conservator.’ That was her one request,” he claims. “She wanted a professional, somebody independent. Britney did not want her father to be the conservator of her person, the person who makes decisions about her medical care, treatment, et cetera. She also didn’t want him controlling her finances.” Britney has vowed not to perform as long as her father is in control of her life.

Arguably one of the most heartbreaking parts of this is Britney’s true lack of control over her life. This is shown at the end when a message that reads “The New York Times attempted to reach Britney Spears directly to request her participation in this project. It is unclear if she received the requests.”

The documentary really explores all the misogyny in the music industry, specifically through clips with Britney and interviews with those close to her. It also shows the real Britney, who was really just a child when she was thrown into this.

Even at the height of her fame, according to the documentary, when Britney first got her hands on some of her money she went right back to her hometown in Mississippi to share the wealth. It’s the hope that this documentary will shed more light on her situation and hopefully let people see the real Britney. All that everyone can hope for is that Britney is able to be her own person starting September 2021 and she can go back to performing and doing what she loves.