Britney Spears has been the focus of renewed interest the past couple of week, thanks to The New York Times Framing Britney Spears documentary.
The documentary, inspired by the Free Britney movement, focuses on Britney’s life behind closed doors and her conservatorship.
Framing Britney Spears takes us through Britney’s life in the public eye, starting from the very beginning when Britney was a young girl entering competitions, through her superstardom in the late 90’s, her very public breakdown in 2007 and all the way up to the #FreeBritney movement of today.
The documentary is raw and uncomfortable at times as it really brings to life the fact that Britney has never been fully free; a victim of the press, men and her conservator.
Framing Britney Spears also highlights how the focus on Britney was always been overly sexual. From conversations around her body, her virginity and her relationship with men, including her ex boyfriend, Justin Timberlake.
The control and manipulation Britney has faced for most of her life is one of the reasons that she experienced a breakdown in 2007. She was put on a psychiatric hold and placed in a conservatorship under her father at age 26. Since 2008 her father, Jamie Spears, has had full control over Britney’s life, career and finances. In the eyes of the State Britney is practically a child.
The documentary shines a light on conservatorship and how complex and difficult an agreement it is. The documentary asks viewers to question whether an independent and successful woman like Britney Spears really warrants a conservatorship? It also makes us question what part we played in the tragic events of Britney’s life. The documentary is a huge eye-opener and definitely gets you thinking.
Here is a breakdown of some of the things the documentary taught us about Britney’s life and her conservatorship overall.
First off, what is conservatorship?
The Superior Court of California, deems a conservatorship a legal concept in the United States that enables a parent, guardian or protector, appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and daily life of someone else due to old age or physical/mental limitations.
Britney’s conservator is her father, Jamie, who has a somewhat sinister presence in the documentary. The documentary presents him in a light that makes the viewer question if his interest in being Britney’s conservator has more to do with her money and fame than genuine care for his daughter.
How does Britney feel?
While Britney or any member of her immediate family declined to be interviewed for the documentary, interviews from a previous documentary back in 2008 show that Britney is upset and very unhappy with the conservatorship.
In one clip she is seen crying over her lack of freedom, while at the same time she appears quite together and sound of mind. It only makes you question the necessity of the conservatorship for 12 years and the morals surrounding it.
In August 2018 Britney’s lawyers sent papers to the court detailing Britney’s preferences for the conservatorship going forward. The papers stated that Britney would prefer a bank be in charge of her financial affairs rather than her father.
Is a woman who is clearly able to express her feelings like this really in need of a conservator?
Is Britney free now?
Britney’s conservatorship goes far deeper than her father being control of her finances and business deals, he also has the power to control her day-to-day life.
There have been allegations that Britney was not allowed to own a mobile phone, that she’s not allowed to drive a car or make decisions about where she goes and who she sees. Everywhere she goes she is followed by a team of handlers. She is also unable to be alone with her two sons who are now 14 and 15 years old.
In 2019 Jamie became sick and was hospitalised. During that time it is reported that he forced Britney into a medical institution against her will while he recovered. Also in 2019 Britney’s two teenaged sons were granted a restraining order against Jamie as he assaulted one of them at Britney’s home.
Fans have often questioned the control that Jamie has over Britney’s life. Surely if she is able to tour the world and play hundreds of shows in Las Vegas, she can decide if she wants to head to Starbucks for a coffee?
In recent years fans began to speculate that Britney was using her Instagram to cry out from help.
Her posts often contained cryptic captions and videos where she appears quite childlike. Fans began to speculate and looked in to her situation. This sparked the #FreeBritney movement to have Britney removed from her conservatorship under her father.
Fans of Britney have been spamming the internet with #FreeBritney to highlight her situation and have held rallies outside the courts in LA to show support to Britney.
Britney is fighting for her own freedom
One of the more disturbing parts of the documentary was hen the filmmakers spoke to a lawyer who Britney had consulted with back in 2008 at the start of her conservatorship. Britney tried to hire him to represent her interests and she was refused the request to have her own lawyer.
Since Britney’s conservatorship began in 2008 she has released a number of albums and preformed hundreds of shows raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. As conservator Jamie Spears is paid a portion of Britney’s earnings. He has made millions off of his daughter’s mental illness.
Britney has stated that she will no longer work as long as her father is still in control of her life. She is currently battling with him in court for him to relinquish his hold over her.
On November 10th the court appointed of Bessiner Trust as co-conservator and said they would consider future requests for the removal of her father as conservator. While this is not the exact freedom Britney was looking for, it is a small win for her.
The Free Britney movement is far from over as Britney is still battling to have her father removed as her conservator. Reportedly, she is happy to remain in a conservatorship, she just wants an independent party to oversee it.
We all played a part
The documentary also highlights how we all played a part in getting Britney to where she is today. Buying in to the articles, watching the interviews, seeing the video of her shaving her head as entertainment and not doing anything. Even buying that t-shirt with the logo “If Britney can make it through 2007, you can make it through this!”
The documentary is a huge wake-up call in to how we treat celebrities and feed in to the presses treatment of them. The documentary questions how can we do better.
Here’s hoping Britney gets the happy ending she deserves.