New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears has spurred much conversation around everything from conservatorships to the making of pop stars. Far more than just a documentary about the life of one of the worlds biggest pop icons, it’s a harrowing look at how we treat celebrities – particularly women – in general.
Here are the biggest takeaways we had when viewing.
1. It Started When She Was A Child
From the outset, we see the truly revolting way Britney is objectified, even as a child on the Mickey Mouse Show. One clip features a host asking Britney Spears if she has a boyfriend. When she says no, the host – easily over 40 – asks if he could be her boyfriend.
What is most alarming about this interaction (besides, you know, an adult man speaking like this to a little girl) is Britney’s reaction – she’s clearly been TV trained, and laughs it off.
2. Justin Timberlake Built His Career Off Cheating Allegations
Justin Timberlake, Britney’s ex-boyfriend, clearly hit his stride after they split and he left N*SYNC. But what we didn’t realise was just how he managed to do that – by encouraging a narrative where Britney Spears was the cheating bad guy, and Justin the heartbroken golden boy.
Through joking about taking her virginity on radio stations to purposely using a Britney lookalike in Cry Me A River, it’s wild to see in retrospect how Justin and his team completely threw her under the bus to further his career.
3. The Whole World Decided Britney Was Responsible For Their Break Up
Adding to that, it was shocking to see just how quickly the media was to denounce Britney Spears as the girl-next-door following their split. While Britney didn’t elaborate on cheating allegations or the reason for their split, she was repeatedly splashed across magazine covers as a cheating liar, and her entire interview with Diane Sawyer framed her as such, too.
4. The Sexual Objectification Was Intense
While Britney and her team obviously played into her role as a sex object, it was still concerning to see TV hosts asking Britney if she was a virgin, or making comments about her breasts. This was all happening during her first big break, when she was just in her late teens.
5. The Paparazzi Were Fuelled By The Media
We were quick to blame the paparazzi for their relentless hounding of Britney and other female celebrities in the 2000s, but through interviews with key paps from the time it was clear that they were simply the by-product of an insatiable hunger for celeb content.
Many of the paparazzi that speak talk of million dollar photos – money that meant a lot to them, given they weren’t exactly rolling in it. That being said, when one pap discusses following Britney to a service station and snapping away while she had her infamous head-shaving breakdown, it’s hard to feel empathy for them. Essentially, we’re all the problem – not just the paps.
6. It’s Alarming How Easily She Was Put Under Conservatorship
There is, of course, the chance we don’t know some key information about Britney Spears and her mental health – information that might make her conservatorship more logical, perhaps. But watching the documentary it’s hard to understand why a court would grant her father and others such power over her life and finances.
It’s even more baffling that under the conservatorship, which was allegedly put in place due to her being unfit to handle her own affairs, she ends up on a world tour for Circus.
7. Britney Spears Has Had A Hard Life
What is most eye-opening is just how difficult Britney’s life has been. Sure, she’s a hyper-successful artist with platinum albums coming out of her ears. But this is a woman who was used as a pawn by so many for their own benefit. Britney was a vehicle for people’s success, financial gain, media attention and more. It’s pretty devastating to think her entire life wasn’t really hers, even before the conservatorship.