Free Britney, B*tch

Last Friday, Hulu and FX premiered the sixth installment of The New York Times Presents docu-series Framing Britney Spears. Almost immediately upon release, the buzz around the one-hour special garnered attention from celebrities and fans alike. Whether you were prepared or not, the documentary holds a mirror up to the media itself and forces the audience to confront their complicity in Britney’s highly public struggle and eventual breakdown. It can be hard to reconcile with the fact that just a little over a decade ago, a woman experiencing such personal hardship on many levels was met with vicious mockery instead of the compassion she deserved. Paramore’s lead singer Hayley Williams came to Twitter after watching the documentary, saying, “the mental health conversation, culturally, could never be where it is without the awful price she has paid.” The ugly and vulturous treatment of Britney Spears in the media, and the subsequent media consumption of her mental and emotional anguish by the public, is a testament to the deeply-woven misogyny in our society. While we have a  very long way to go, Framing Britney Spears provided viewers with a viscerally shocking and upsetting opportunity to relive the Britney Spears phenomenon with a new perspective. If there is any takeaway from the documentary, it is that we are all accountable. Oh, and that we must #FreeBritney.

Framing Britney Spears is a solid documentation of the media frenzy surrounding the iconic pop star. It covers Britney’s humble beginnings, her meteoric rise to fame, her relationship with the paparazzi, her marriage and custody struggles, and the vicissitudes of her career all through the lens of the media and tabloid culture at their peak. It even begins to touch on the #FreeBritney movement, an initiative started by her loyal fans that are concerned with the singer’s court-sanctioned conservatorship that strips her of almost all of her rights. However, I wanted the documentary to dive deeper into this aspect of Britney’s life, because it is a very current and pressing issue that needs everyone’s attention. 

Britney has been living under a conservatorship for 13 years, and her refusal to work in the last 2 years has caught the attention of her devoted fans as a sign that she is trying in any way she can to stop the people around her from profiting off her massive income. There are mountains of information regarding Britney’s conservatorship, due to  the unique complexity of her situation. For instance, Britney is not only funding her own lawyers, but she is funding her conservators and her conservator’s lawyers. That alone is cause for speculation that the people tasked with having her best interest are actually motivated by her lucrative assets. The American Civil Liberties Union commented on the amorality of her legal circumstances, tweeting, “Britney Spears’s conservatorship limits her ability to advocate for herself and lead her own life. She––and all people with disabilities––should have the right to make decisions for themselves and retain their civil rights.” #FreeBritney has proved to be even bigger than just Britney alone, it is also protesting the unconstitutional nature of all conservatorships.

So while I wish the documentary explored the many intricacies of her conservatorship battle with more scrutiny, there are many other sources to stay informed and educate yourself on the corruption seeped in Britney’s life. Let’s never forget that while The New York Times may have legitimized the #FreeBritney movement, it was regular, everyday people in Britney’s fan base that are responsible for the keen observations of her social media, the research on court documents and the lives of those in her inner-circle, and getting the movement public recognition with rallies at the court hearings. If Framing Britney Spears was your introduction to the torture Britney endured and her legal imprisonment, attached below are links to a podcast and youtube channels that have impressively-documented and thoroughly-researched content to take you even further into Britney’s story of strength and resilience as well as her conservatorship struggle. If you want to help #FreeBritney, click on this link (https://www.freebritney.net/r-r ) for resources. Like Britney’s lawyer stated in her court documents, “the whole world is watching.”

SL04N on Youtube: https://youtu.be/2hnBPwc8ozk 

DeepDive on Youtube: https://youtu.be/_6CGuHwWDFs 

Britney’s Gram Podcast: https://britneysinstagram.libsyn.com