Britney Spears has a special type of fame: it’s endemic. Very few people on the planet have no cognisance of her name. That’s why there’s been such a reaction to ‘Framing Britney Spears’.
Produced by the New York Times, the documentary details how the singer is trapped by her father, Jamie, in a conservatorship. It’s a legal arrangement normally applied to older people, unable to handle their own affairs. Britney has been under the court-approved sanction since 2008, when she was 26, meaning that Jamie has controlled her multimillion-dollar fortune since then.
Britney voluntarily ended a very successful and lucrative Las Vegas residency, because she doesn’t want to work while Jamie remains in control. The film focuses on this and moves on to pinpoint the media’s portrayal of Britney as the root of her troubles.
Neither Britney nor any of her family appear on camera, but she is seen being hounded by paparazzi, being asked as a child on TV if she has a boyfriend, and as a grown woman being questioned about her virginity. There then follows the descent into rumours of mental health problems, spells in rehab, custody battles over her kids, and ultimately the conservatorship.
It’s that word that is pertinent. Or rather, its derivative – ‘conservative’.
What ‘Framing Britney Spears’ fails to unpackage is that the surge that submerged the pop star has been directed by the American public. It’s often said the US is the most powerful nation in the world – whatever that means, as it’s an undefinable characteristic.
But it certainly has been able to export culture to a greater degree than any other nation. So while the rest of us consume American music, movies, TV, and media, we have no place in their society.
The first sparks of criticism come in Britney’s smash single, ‘…Baby One More Time’.
The video shows her dressed provocatively as a high-school student, and of course, there’s a sexual element to the lyrics.
The documentary shows clips of TV reports, slamming her for being a bad role model.
This morphs into a discussion about her breasts and if she cheated on her boyfriend, fellow singer Justin Timberlake.