‘Framing Britney Spears’: addressing Spears’ ‘toxic’ conservatorship

Pop star Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship for the past thirteen years.

FX/Hulu [Fair Use]

Pop star Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship for the past thirteen years.

Colin Gordy, Staff Writer

Oops, she’s done it again. Princess of Pop Britney Spears has been making global headlines in the last few months as an ongoing “#FreeBritney” movement is sweeping across the internet. Since 2008, Britney Spears has been under a permanent conservatorship, with her father Jamie Spears having full control over her life, children and finances. In a recent documentary directed by Samantha Stark and published by the New York Times, “Framing Britney Spears” details the pop star’s life from her rise to fame, her mental and legal struggles and her life now as she battles her father for the control over her finances and her estate.

The documentary comes after years of legal battles concerning Spears’ mental stability and ability to manage her money. Since the late 1990s, the superstar from Kentwood, Louisiana has been one of the most successful pop stars of all time, and “Framing Britney Spears” does not hesitate to reiterate this fact. 

In the early 2000s, you could not have gone anywhere or done anything without seeing something with Britney Spears’ name on it. She was at the center of advertising campaigns, tabloids, media programming, etc. However, it would not be long before the star’s popularity began to wane. 

As depicted in the documentary, Britney Spears spent years of her life being sexualized and harassed by the paparazzi and fellow musicians. The extreme criticism of Britney Spears started in 2002 following the breakup between her and fellow pop star, Justin Timberlake. The documentary highlights interviews with Timberlake where he repeatedly slut-shamed Spears and painted her as a villain for the entire country. Personally, I feel as if the entire industry owes Britney one huge apology. Her constant mistreatment has flown under the radar for decades, and “Framing Britney Spears” is finally bringing her maltreatment into question.

Following her infamous 2007 breakdown, which consisted of Spears shaving her head and damaging a paparazzi car with a green umbrella, the world knew her as nothing other than a woman who had lost her mind. Speaking to the New York Times, Daniel Ramos, the paparazzo who owned the attacked car, recounts his experience while photographing Spears throughout the years. Ramos claims that the paparazzi never felt like Spears wanted to be left alone, and when confronted about the number of times Spears specifically said, “leave me alone,” Ramos gave the following, extremely disturbing sentiment: “There were times when she said leave me alone for the day. But it wasn’t like leave me alone forever.” 

Following the breakdown, Spears went on to be involuntarily hospitalized, lost custody of her children and forced into a court-ordered conservatorship after she refused to give her youngest child back to Kevin Federline, Spears’ ex-husband and father to both of her children.

Before the rise of social media, people viewed Britney the way the tabloids depicted her: a sad, unstable, lost little girl damaged by too much money and too much promiscuity. Contradictorily, the documentary reveals more about the singer than the media let on. Having been a huge Britney fan for much of my life, it is nice to see some of her positive attributes being shown.

Her long-time friend and former assistant, Felicia Culotta, spoke about memories of Britney that painted her in a much better light. Culotta describes her memories of Britney as her being an extremely kind and humble young girl. Culotta also recounts a time when Britney was home for Christmas after her first year as a pop star, Britney “wanted to go get $10,000 in $100 bills and she drove through Kentwood and gave out $100 bills.” 

“Framing Britney Spears” helps shed further light on the true Britney and her fight for her rights. However, it is important to understand the bigger picture when watching the documentary. It’s less about a popstar who slowly lost her superstar status and more about a grown woman who has had her rights stolen from her. 

Being at center stage of her Las Vegas Piece of Me residency, one of the most successful residencies the strip has ever seen, many question why Spears has been deemed incompetent by the courts. Thirteen years after the conservatorship was set and stone, Spears has finally started to win. After filing for her conservatorship to be completely abolished in 2020, Spears threatened to never perform again if her father were to remain her conservator.  

Following her most recent court hearing after the release of “Framing Britney Spears”, Spears was able to come out victorious in some of her pursuits. While failing to completely eradicate the conservatorship, Spears won back the right to control her finances after her father lost in court earlier this month

With “Framing Britney Spears” and the #FreeBritney movement putting Spears’ legal battle back into the limelight, it is hopefully only a matter of time before the “…Baby One More Time” singer is back in control.