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I have distinct memories of strolling through the grocery store as a kid and sneaking glances of the juicy gossip on the magazines at every end cap of a checkout lane. It felt wrong to do since I knew most of the covers of magazines were stupid tabloids and scandals about affairs, broken marriages and secret pregnancies. My childhood grocery store trips were filled with the affair of Tiger Woods, the broken marriage of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise and of course, the head-shaving breakdown of Britney Spears. 

Although I was alive during the tabloid frenzy surrounding Britney Spears, I did not exactly comprehend what was happening. As an eight-year-old, I saw Britney in the exact light that magazines wanted me to see her: a mess, a pop star gone wild, a diva on the loose. I continued to grow up with the notion that Britney was some washed-up primadonna who did not know how to control herself. However, this all changed in 2020 when I was scrolling on TikTok. Multiple videos of people advocating for a #FreeBritney movement showed up on my “For You Page.” Was Britney in jail and I somehow missed this piece of information? Was she in some sort of mental health institution, like she had been in the past, and was trying to get out? 

As I did some digging I found a world of Britney supporters advocating for the end of her father’s conservatorship over her. In simple terms, a conservatorship allows Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, to have control over her career, expenses and personal life, and this has been in place since 2008.

The new FX documentary called “Framing Britney Spears” has put the star and the legal contract that has silenced her all these years in the spotlight. The documentary is an hour and fifteen minutes and tells the story of Britney’s super stardom. I thought the documentary was well made, as watchers can almost see the destruction of a young star right in front of their eyes. The film moves from telling joyous stories of Britney’s dreams, as she made her way from singing in her home church in Mississippi to her big break as a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, to darker stories of the young pop sensation’s struggles. 

As she rose to fame, Britney began to realize the costs of her celebrity status. The documentary discusses the gross misogyny and sexism of society, especially in Hollywood and entertainment, and how this shaped Britney’s image. While some believed her to be a sweet, innocent southern girl, others found her slutty and promiscuous. Britney had to navigate her childhood with constant criticisms around every corner. 


Hollywood sign
Photo by Zoi Palla from Unsplash

As the documentary progresses and continues to show videos of her career, one can see the spirit and happiness drain from Britney. You watch the persecution and judgment of the media simply destroy a beautiful soul. In addition to the media constantly watching over her, Britney also had to worry about her father, who seemed to assume his role of father only after she began to make money. 

Overall, it was very sad to see how Britney has been manipulated nearly her whole life, whether it be by tabloids and paparazzi, or her own family members. After watching, I can firmly say that I am a supporter of the #FreeBritney movement, and hope the day comes when she can be herself and take control of her own life. 


man with cameras
Photo by Luke Porter from Unsplash

You can find the documentary on Hulu. If it does not come up on your Home Page, try searching the full title, “The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears.”

Holly O'Brien

Notre Dame '23

Hi, I’m Holly! I am a Sophomore at the University of Notre Dame studying Science-Business, as well as Film, Television, and Theatre. Born and raised in South Jersey, I spend my summers down the shore and get to enjoy the close proximity to Philly year-round. I consider myself a movie fanatic, but also enjoy spending time with friends and family.
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