Why ‘Framing Britney Spears’ has got Everybody Talking

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By Sam Baghal, International News Editor

The New York Times ‘Framing Britney Spears’ documentary has sparked the interest of many since its release, capturing what the public might not know about Spears’ conservatorship, mental health issues, and past career. 

The film has contributed heavily to the #FreeBritney movement as it provides insight into the legal controversy surrounding the ongoing court battle with her father, Jamie Spears. 

After Britney publicly struggled with mental health and was briefly hospitalized in 2008, Jamie was granted full control over her $60 million estate. Members of the pop star’s legal team have since expressed how strongly she opposes Jamie’s position as the conservator of her finances and career, fighting in court to limit his control. The documentary includes interviews from both the lawyer currently working on the case and another attorney she attempted to hire at the beginning of the conservatorship. 

Britney’s fanbase has been supporting the #FreeBritney movement for years now, using social media to spread awareness and holding protests outside of various court hearings. The public has also been paying close attention to Britney’s Instagram posts, convinced that she is sending secret messages to fans asking them for help. 

Aside from the legal battle, the film also highlights the misogyny and mistreatment Britney faced during her rise to fame. 

A particularly unsettling clip includes a moment from one of her earliest TV appearances. After providing an incredible performance of ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ at just 10 years old, the host of the TV show Star Search, Ed McMahon, made some wildly inappropriate comments. Even after such a breathtaking rendition, all he mentioned was Britney’s appearance, complimenting her eyes and even asking if he could be her boyfriend. While McMahon played off the remark in a joking manner, you can see clear embarrassment and discomfort on young Britney’s face as she replied “Well…it depends”. 

Unfortunately, the misogyny she faced as a child only worsened over the years. As her music and performances matured, Britney was painted as quite possibly the biggest sex symbol of the decade. The media took advantage of this image, publicizing sexist narratives about promiscuity, unfit motherhood, and infidelity. 

The messy divorce, custody battle, and notorious head-shaving breakdown that came later in her career only led to more vicious paparazzi pursuits.

After watching the documentary and taking into account all of the injustice and mistreatment Britney faced, viewers can not help but feel complicit in contributing to this media frenzy for so long. Since its release, celebrities like Kacey Musgraves, Miley Cyrus, Tamron Hall, and many others have taken to social media to express their support for Britney’s long-time battle against both her father and the press. 

When asked about the documentary, Wayne Hills students expressed similar reactions, sympathizing with all the struggles Britney has had to endure. 

“The documentary was really eye-opening,” said Senior Elise Kosoy. “ It’s almost unbelievable how Britney was abused in the industry at such a young age and later shamed for being ‘too provocative’. Even big celebrities like Justin Timberlake tried to publicly degrade and humiliate her, portraying Britney as a cheater through his ‘Cry me a River’ music video.”

“I have been following the #FreeBritney movement on Twitter for a while now and the film just further proves that Jamie Spears is unfit to control Britney’s estate,” said Senior Ashley Blitzer. “The entire conservatorship itself is unjust, considering it was created on the basis of sexism and stigmas surrounding mental health in the early 2000s. Now that we know more about the struggles she was facing at the time,  it is clear that Britney deserves to take back a sense of control in her own life.”