Review │ "Framing Britney Spears": Hulu’s Documentary And The Drama Of The Fame World

She can’t give interviews or marry without authorization. She can’t make decisions, not even those related to her own kids or her work. She can’t leave home by herself. She can’t enjoy her own fortune. She can’t always maintain contact with who she wants. She can’t speak her mind. She doesn’t have freedom anymore.

That’s the life of Britney Spears. At the age of 39, the pop star is obliged to ask for consent for almost everything to her father, Jamie Spears. That’s because she’s tied, since 2008, to a conservatorship. The measure is used in cases for the elderly and people considered unable to take care of themselves, such as those with severe mental illness.

In 2020, the singer’s lawyers filed a lawsuit so that her father would step away from being the conservator. Britney was afraid of Jamie and wouldn’t like to work as long as he was in charge. At the time, it was reported that her net worth was only $63 million, while it’s estimated she has earned a total of $670 million. Weird, isn’t it?

  1. 1. "Framing Britney Spears"

    Released in February 2021, “Framing Britney Spears” investigates what’s behind the conservatorship and its inconsistencies. The documentary is directed by Samantha Stark and it’s a project of The New York Times alongside FX and FX on Hulu. It also shows how Britney went from a princess to a villain, but deep down she was only a victim. And we are to blame.

    To the public, her songs were never enough. The interest in Britney’s personal life became so big that she was, for a long time, the most searched celebrity on Google (and she owned this title with ease). Each photo of the singer reached the cost of $1 million. It was a need to keep an eye on and to judge every action of Britney Spears. It was a vital necessity.

    Despite not bringing new revelations — her life was always exhaustively exploited by the media —, the documentary reconstructs Britney’s career through a humanized, mature, and critical eye. It’s shocking to revisit what we were in a not-so-distant past: a society that saw body and slut-shaming, misogyny, bullying, and hyper-sexualization as entertainment. Britney knew what each of these types of violence were still in her teenage days, at the hands of an insensitive press that profited even more with her exposure and suffering.

  2. 2. #FreeBritney

    After almost a decade of being disrespected, invaded, and judged, the artist had a mental breakdown that was watched religiously and enthusiastically throughout the world. Everyone cheered for the worst. She was going through a delicate moment in her personal life, full of pain and losses — but none of it really mattered. They laughed and called her "crazy". In 2007 people didn’t talk about mental health. The rumor was that she was addicted to drugs. That was when Jamie filled for the conservatorship to “save” Britney.

    The media always supported Britney’s father. For many years, we thought he was a good person”. The statement is from Max Simões Ribeiro, founder of the Brazilian portal GossipBritney. He says that over time the fans started to notice something wrong in the situation. “She was overprotected by her crew. Some celebrities related to being complicated trying to keep in touch and that she never had the freedom to socialize with who she wanted. A lot of contracts were involved to guard her. She was untouchable”.

    To draw the attention of the press and the public, the fans created the #FreeBritney movement to share the unfair restrictions in the singer’s life, besides organizing protests for her independence. The success was so huge that personalities such as Cher, Miley Cyrus, Hayley Williams, and Paris Hilton stood for the cause. Britney’s own attorneys said she “welcomes and appreciates the informed support of her many fans”. She’s not even allowed to talk about the conservatorship.

  3. 3. Not Just A Documentary

    “Framing Britney Spears” is the result of these fans’ efforts. Through statements, they intend, alongside people close to the pop star and lawyers involved in the case, to show Britney as a conscious, productive, and capable person. Jamie, on the other hand, is described as an absent father, violent, and money-driven. “There’s no proof that shows she needs guardianship. After this shocking reality, I believe that no fan actually supports Britney’s father”, concludes Max Simões Ribeiro.

    The documentary brings a reflection about how society confines women stereotypes of craziness, hysteria, and incapacity — most of the time, based on assumptions. Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse are examples of thousands of female artists that suffered in the hands of an inhuman press and an audience thirsty for tragedies. Britney, unlike these two singers, managed to survive to fight for her own rights.

    With the recent ascension of the cancel culture, in which someone is punished by not corresponding to our expectations, “Framing Britney Spears” is an alert about how public judgment and psychological violence can cause irreparable damage. It is true: we have advanced as a society and we are much more careful and empathetic towards delicate matters, but the fact that Britney is still locked in this court sentence, based on outdated ideas that were strong 13 years ago, shows that we still have a long way to go.

-----------------------------------------------------------

The article above was edited by Lívia Carvalho.

Liked this type of content? Check Her Campus at Casper Libero home page for more!