New Spears documentary is decidedly diferent

BY OLIVIA VALKNER, staff writer
Photo courtesy of
The new Brittany Spears documentary “Framing Britney Spears” expertly explores Spears’ life, but ultimately disappointing and has its flaws.

Everyone remembers Britney Spears’ shaved head freak-out in 2008. While most chalked it up to mental illness, the new Hulu documentary Framing Britney Spears, produced by the New York Times, attempts to shed light on her whole story.  It follows Spears’ humble beginnings, rise to tabloid royalty and her father’s role as conservator of her person and estate.

The documentary starts with fan videos that present the #FreeBritney movement.  The beginning of the documentary is laughable, as it appears that these videos and even protests have been put together by millennials to exercise their superiority complexes. 

Watching people sport hot pink outfits with their “Free Britney” signs made me question if this would be worth an hour and 14 minutes of my life. 

As a fan of Spears’ music, and out of genuine concern for the ethics of her situation, I pressed on.  Despite the strange first 10 minutes of the documentary, I was shocked at all I learned as I continued to watch. 

The documentary walks through her career and effectively lays out how her reputation was mutilated and manipulated by tabloids, romantic interests and the media. 

Clips of Spears on primetime news, radio shows and paparazzi shots are strategically placed throughout the documentary to highlight her never-ending struggle to establish herself as a respectable artist. 

Struggles with her divorce, custody battles and details of her private life often became the front page stories of tabloids and fueled her outbursts, which were also caught on camera. 

Spears became this image of everything wrong with celebrities, yet the public was entertained and  had to stay updated. This is evidenced in the documentary as Spears is being interrogated by national news anchors or harassed by the paparazzi to the point of tears. 

The most intriguing claims, however, are those that surround her father, Jamie.  The documentary explains how he acquired and has retained conservatorship of Spears’ personal and financial relations, and how the prolonged acquisition to rights of her performance contracts, medical affairs and income is unjust and unnecessary. 

While there are interviews from all angles of the situation, including past and present accomplices, the documentary lacks arguably the most important perspective: Britney Spears’. 

The New York Times  reached out to Spears, her family, others associated with her management and both legal teams of the conservatorship, but the requests went unanswered. 

It will likely be years before a new perspective or evidence is presented that would help to fill gaps in her story. Still, this documentary is very intriguing and prompts deep thought about the common occurrence of dehumanization by the media. 

The in-depth analysis of Spears’ situation helped me better understand her circumstances and help justify her seemingly-reckless behavior. I’ll admit, the documentary does somewhat justify the motives and actions of the #FreeBritney movement, despite its questionable methods and appearance.

We all thought that we knew Spears, but we actually just knew her reputation.

Now, we know even less about the singer because of the constraints placed on her while under the conservatorship of her father, something you will have to watch the documentary to learn more about.