It is a story that has been told and retold to the public over and over again: talented kid gets noticed and scouted into the entertainment industry; they get a strong fan following; they get burdened by ever-increasing engagements and obligations as they grow up; when they do grow up they seem burned out and likely to stumble, maybe even crash. There are many idols whose life and career stories fit that pattern, but Britney Spears was recently pushed to the forefront after a documentary by The New York Times came out last Friday. In its aftermath grew a wave of sympathy for Britney, particularly concerning her controversial conservatorship status.
Entertainment Tonight reports that “Framing Britney Spears,” the NY Times-produced documentary on Britney Spears’ life and career from fresh-faced pop princess to controversy-laden star, has generated shock, indignation, and heel realizations in its audience ever since it was released on FX and streamed on Hulu this past February 5. Moreover, it has gotten the attention of Britney herself according to an inside source on her personal team. It was understandable, since the feature was not authorized by her, and it also touched sensitive topics such as her court-imposed conservatorship wherein her father Jamie Spears handles all her finances since 2008.
Another sore subject discussed in the documentary was Britney’s relationship with Justin Timberlake, then with NSYNC, and how following the end of things in 2003 Justin was sympathized with while she was vilified. Then again, Spears’ more recent social media entries mentioning Timberlake carry a fond tone, and she still respects him as a singer-songwriter and entertainer. This might explain, according to “Framing Britney Spears” producer-director Samantha Stark of the NYT, why the idol did not respond to requests from the production to interview her for the documentary. The source for ET claims Britney did not want to get involved.
One effect of the documentary among viewers, especially Britney Spears fans, was an overwhelming sense of guilt at how their pop culture had simultaneously worshipped and trapped her in a toxic environment, leading to the rise of “We Are Sorry Britney” and #FreeBritney on social media. The latter refers to Spears’ legal battle since 2020 to have her father Jamie removed as conservator and regain control of her finances. This sentiment is getting support from other celebrities ranging from Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler to Hayley Williams of Paramore. A court hearing about the conservatorship is scheduled February 11.
Image from Page Six.com