Growing up, Britney Spears was just the artist of a song I liked. As a toddler, I loved her song “Toxic” and was mesmerized by her after watching the music video. She had this quality that was so different from her contemporaries. And even if you didn’t like her, you couldn’t take your eyes off of her. But after that phase ended, that interest faded into oblivion.
But I still knew her name. How could anyone not? It’s probably common knowledge that Britney’s hits are played everywhere. “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops!…I Did It Again” are probably familiar to everyone with access to the outside world. Even if someone doesn’t know her by name, they most definitely know these songs.
I didn’t show much interest in Britney besides that until I saw a video of her talking about how she burned her gym down. I thought she was hilarious and witty as she spoke so casually and bluntly about this situation. Shortly after this, I started to hear about her conservatorship and how concerned fans were for her. However, I felt propelled to do my own research about her life after becoming exposed to more of her music.
“…Baby One More Time” had soon surfaced as my “Song Obsession of the Week,” and Spotify jumped to another one of her early hits, “(You Drive Me) Crazy.” I ended up loving every minute of it. After going through her discography and a series of her songs, I remember being in absolute awe that everything she released had quality.
Behind her legacy, however, things are not so perfect. Ever since her 2007 public breakdown, Britney has been under a conservatorship headed by her father. To this day, she must receive supervision and approval for nearly every area of her life. Many fans, myself included, are concerned for her wellbeing and remain unsure as to how healthy this is for her. Are her handlers looking out for her best interests, or are they taking advantage of her to make money? One of the many reasons for this concern is the nature of a conservatorship itself. If Britney is unable to take care of herself, why has she been making music and going on tours all around the world? Knowing the factors that contributed to Britney’s big breakdown also raises questions as to whether she has a problem, or if her society does.
Britney had a naturally deep voice that was soulful and compared to the likes of Christina Aguilera. Right away, she was trained to sing in a baby voice to better distinguish her from the crowd and sexualize her as a way of appealing to the public. In other words, she was told to be something she’s not. She first came into the music scene at sixteen years of age, and her status as a minor was often ignored by her contemporaries. On top of that, the tabloids were obsessed with her! She was villainized after her breakup with Justin Timberlake, constantly sexualized, and accused of being a bad role model on several occasions. From getting asked about her breasts to the entire world becoming obsessed with her virginity, it certainly wasn’t easy to walk in Britney’s shoes. Her human mistakes were publicized and became a reality show for the paparazzi and its consumers. During her infamous breakdown in 2007, the world laughed at her instead of supporting her. In 2008, Family Feud even asked their players what Britney Spears had lost in the past year. Answers included her mind, her hair, her fans, and respect.
It’s only in recent years that this damage has come to light. A new documentary titled Framing Britney Spears has opened eyes to her situation and what she was put through prior. Society’s changed attitude towards mental health has also helped Britney gain more support and sympathy.
Regardless of Britney’s struggles behind the scenes, she continued to maintain a kind and humble image in her interviews. She spoke of her work as something she was passionate about, while still maintaining a demeanor that let fans know that she’s just as human as them. This makes her more likeable and appealing to the public, and is without a doubt one of the reasons why she still has admirers all across the world.
This movement, calling for independence, is especially important when considering the person being advocated for. Britney Spears’ strength through negative public scrutiny and her impact on the music industry as the Princess of Pop is worth applauding. As a human, she deserves to be free.