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Framing Britney Spears: A Sobering Look at Celebrity Life

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Framing Britney Spears: A Sobering Look at Celebrity Life

Illustration By Paige Gaskins

Britney Spears’ song “Oops!… I Did it Again” may very well be one of the most emblematic song titles to date. In the hit single of her iconic second album, the message of Spears hiding her power over the media (and men) in ersatz ditziness is stated loud and clear. Time after time, Spears did it again, selling millions of records and monopolizing the airwaves. The title of her song may sound like it is doused in “Who, me?” cluelessness, but it actually declared the polar opposite: there was absolutely nothing random with what she was doing. However, no one believed she had agency, and we still see that today with her conservatorship. 

Spears started her career at age 11, starring in “The All New Mickey Mouse Club.” She began to grow as a pop singer, launching her successful career with the release of the single, “…Baby One More Time” in 1998. She also achieved massive sales with albums such as “Britney,” before undergoing some personal and professional setbacks, according to Slate.

 Spears was continually scrutinized for her choices in clothing. Additionally, misogyny and sexism surrounded her career and relationships. Most people saw Spears as a “slut” and labeled her as a threat to their children instead of seeing her as the feminist icon that she is. 

Spears married Kevin Federline in 2004; announced the pregnancy of their first child in April of 2005 and their second child in September of 2006. Weeks after she delivered her second baby, she and Federline filed for divorce. They both wanted full custody of the children, and Federline was later given full custody with Spears having supervised visitation. After this, Spears’ mental health declined. She began to do uncharacteristic things, such as shaving her head and denting the truck of a paparazzo man with an umbrella. Spears was put in mental facilities involuntary a couple of times after these incidences. Upon release from these facilities, Spears realized that she needed to be put under a conservatorship, according to Biography.com, and had originally consented to a temporary conservatorship. California Courts defines a conservatorship as a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization, called the “conservator,” to care for another adult, called the “conservatee,” who cannot care for themself or manage their own finances. The Hulu documentary from The New York Times “Framing Britney Spears” explores the conservatorship and the role Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, played in it. Although Spears realized and accepted her need for a conservatorship, her one request was that her father not be her conservator. She and her father were not very close when she was younger, and quite frankly, she did not trust him with her finances. However, that request was denied. On October 28, 2008, Spears’ father was made her conservator.

After being in the conservatorship for almost 13 years, Spears wants to cut ties from her father and break free from his control. However, her father is reluctant to end the conservatorship and still feels that Spears should be under his control, as stated in “Framing Britney Spears.” Following Spears’ many attempts to speak about her discomfort with the conservatorship and the fear she has of her father, fans started a movement to help advocate for the end of it: #FreeBritney. Although the #FreeBritney movement has helped immensely in Spears’ favor, court hearings, including the dispute over her father’s role as conservator of the estate, are still ongoing. 

For Spears, this means that her father will continue to control her money and estate. The documentary stated that they made multiple attempts to reach out to Spears and asked for an interview. However, it was unclear whether the messages ever made their way to Spears or if they were intercepted by her father. Spears has spoken in court, saying that she will no longer perform until her father is no longer her conservator. This documentary was able to bring light to her situation, but it also gave a look into the world of conservatorships so that in the future other people may be fought for as much as Spears is being fought for. Whether the pop star performs again or not does not seem to be as much of a concern to her fans as freeing her is. While the documentary did not end with this happy resolution, the wheels are clearly in motion, and Britney is cracking that whip.

Sources: 

“The New York Times Presents/Framing Britney Spears.” Season 1, episode 6, 5 Feb. 2021. 

Paskin, Willa. “Framing Britney Spears Is Missing a Crucial Piece.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 12 Feb.      2021, slate.com/culture/2021/02/framing-britney-spears-review-class-sexism-hulu.html.

“Britney Spears.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 12 Nov. 2020, www.biography.com/musician/britney-spears. 

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Hi, I’m Sara Crawford, a senior journalism student from Cleveland. I’m also the editor in chief of The Burr and the opinions editor for KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.

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