The Toxic American pop culture media drove Britney Spears Crazy, but her fans are determined to save her from the Circus and her conservatorship with the #FreeBritney movement and attention from the New York Times’ docu series on FX and Hulu.
Britney Spears was just a small town girl from Kentwood, Louisiana before she took over American pop culture in the late 90s and early 2000s. She had it all– the look, the voice, the dance moves, and she was able to dominate the charts as a solo female in the era of the “boy band.” People were obsessed with Britney, but fame comes with a price.
The tabloid media is a ruthless, invasive, and unforgiving force of nature in American pop culture. Behind all the tabloids, gossip, makeup, and music are ordinary people, yet the media replaces the person with the spectacle. As much as Britney was adored, she was criticized.
America grabbed popcorn to watch the show as the pop star's life went up in flames. In spite of multiple, public mental breakdowns, the media continuously attacked and criticized Spears. We have seen the spotlight burn celebrities before: Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Lovato, just to name a few. But what’s different about Britney’s story is that hers didn’t end with a trip to rehab and an eventual return to everyday life. In fact, Britney’s life hasn’t been her own in over a decade.
Maybe you haven’t heard of the #FreeBritney movement if you’ve been living under a rock in 2020. In case you aren’t sure, the newest episode of FX and Hulu’s docu series premiered February 5.“The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney,” takes us into the story of Britney’s entire life in the public eye. The episode recounts her initial boost to fame, her breaking point, and ultimately the odd details of her conservatorship, in which her father, Jamie Spears, has almost complete control over Britney’s life and fortune.
The episode also draws attention to the misogyny Britney and other young female artists had to tolerate at the time. The prejudice is especially apparent in the coverage of her break up with Justin Timberlake. After the 2002 premiere of “Cry Me a River,” which depicted a blonde, Britney look alike cheating on Timberlake, the media attacked her and Timberlake never spoke up.
Since the New York Times documentary, Timberlake has released a public apology to Britney as well as Janet Jackson (because of a Super Bowl scandal in 2004, Jackson took the brunt of the bad press while Timberlake stayed quiet).
"I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand I fell short in these moments..."
(you can read the rest of the statement on his Instagram @justintimberlake)
According to insider.com, 2007 was an unimaginably difficult year for Britney, as she lost custody of her two children and famously shaved her head while paparazzis watched with their jaws to the floor. In 2008, she was evaluated in a psychiatric hospital not once, but twice, and so her father, Jamie Spears filed for a “temporary” conservatorship over her. Conservatorships are typically intended for elderly people who are no longer mentally fit to handle their own affairs, like their financial accounts and personal assets.
Friends and fans initially speculated Spears only agreed so she received visitation rights to her children again. But what was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, has spanned over a decade. Since 2008, Britney has had no control over her own life or her money.
Attorneys involved in the suit, former backup dancers and talent agents, as well as longtime family friend and former assistant, Felicia Culotta are all interviewed in the episode. All of the people interviewed conveyed a similar tone of suspicion and anxiety regarding the conservatorship and Spears’s well-being.
Does Britney really need someone in charge of her entire life? Why was her father the appointed conservator?
Fans were suspicious from the get go, but suspicion only increased as the “temporary” conservatorship kept getting extended. The #FreeBritney movement has gained momentum over the last decade, and fans have now taken to social media platforms, like TikTok, to air their concerns.
@geralynll on TikTok
@ash.nic on TikTok
Spears accused her father of physically abusing her young son in 2019, and Jamie Spears finally stepped down as the primary conservator, but he still hasn’t been completely removed from the arrangement.
The entire situation is really sus. Britney’s father insists the conservatorship is vital to her health and well-being, but Britney has reportedly claimed to be afraid of her father and has filed to have him removed as conservator altogether.
While a lot is still up in the air, the documentary episode leaves fans hopeful.
In August 2020, Jamie Spears motioned to have the details of the conservatorship case sealed from the public, but Britney and her attorney, Sam Ingham, successfully blocked the motion. A BBC article explains Ingham spoke on her behalf saying, “(Britney) welcomes and appreciates the informed support of her many fans.” The keyword here being “informed.” Members of the #FreeBritney movement took this as a nod to the massive and passionate support of the movement.
Britney’s fans have continuously spread the news about the movement and will love her Til the World Ends.