I grew up loving Britney Spears' music. There's something about early 2000s pop mixed with videos that didn't make sense that really made me come back for more time and again. And like a lot of people, I didn't know the specifics of her life or breakdown — blindly believing when everyone said she's "crazy."
There is much more to the story, though, yet we still treat her like a commodity instead of a human being.
Framing Britney Spears, streaming on Hulu, is part of The New York Times Presents documentary series and dives into the personal life of Spears from the beginning to her 2007 breakdown and court-ordered conservatorship, which remains in effect today.
Under a conservatorship, a judge-appointed guardian manages the finances and/or daily life of another due to physical or mental limitations. For adults, they're mostly for older seniors incapable of taking care of themselves. They're not, generally speaking, for a capable 39-year-old still seemingly being punished for a long-ago breakdown.
Yes, she publicly shaved her head, attacked a car and started fighting with everyone around her. Wouldn't you if the entire world was saying you were a slut and a bad parent? While she was struggling and some action was needed, a permanent conservatorship is unfair. Since Spears originally agreed to it in order to see her children, it makes it hard for it to be dissolved completely. But at this point it seems more like a cruel punishment than a safety measure. Not surprisingly, the only people in favor of this conservatorship are the people who benefit from her money — her family, particularly her father who controls everything.
The documentary contextualizes Spears' life with what was going on in other aspects of American society, from the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the intense paparazzi culture that led to photographers stalking her every move.
I wish the documentary was longer and provided more information. I still can't get it out of my head, and I watched it more than a week ago while bingeing her music. If you ever questioned whether misogyny remains in our 2021 world, just watch this 75-minute documentary and you'll wonder why we can't help this person obviously being taken advantage of and abused.
Before watching this I supported the "Free Britney" movement just because I was a fan, but this documentary makes you feel a sense of outrage whenever you hear her name or one of her songs. Even seeing a plaid skirt is enough to knock you into a fit of furious ranting. No, Britney Spears was not born to make you happy. But she really did try. ♦