Britney Spears is making headlines once again, but not for her music. On Feb. 5, “The New York Times Presents” released the Spears-focused documentary episode, “Framing Britney Spears.” The episode thoroughly reexamines the singer’s career, her quick and intense rise to fame, and her personal struggles within her three decades in the entertainment industry.
The episode begins with a current update on Spears’ status as a singer, as well as the #FreeBritney movement. The movement started with the goal of putting an end to her father’s conservatorship over her funds. According to the episode, former Jive Records Marketing Executive Kim Kaiman claims Jamie Spears, Britney’s father showed a disconnect from his daughter’s life early into her singing career, saying “The only thing Jamie ever said to me was ‘My daughter’s gonna be so rich, she’s gonna buy me a boat.’”
Conservatorships are put in place for people who are unable to make their own decisions or are mentally incapactitated. The issue is that Spears has shown capabilities to continue working and making her own decisions throughout her conservatorship. The episode notes how Spears wishes to be freed from her conservatorship under her father and is happy that her fans are taking action to see her demand fulfilled.
The episode also covers the sexist interviews where countless questions were asked pertaining to the young singer’s personal life, along with many false accusations about her character. There is even a moment in one of her interviews shown in the episode where a European interviewer began quizzing Spears about her breasts and whether or not she had implants.
The episode also explores the singer’s relationships, putting emphasis on Spears’ relationship with Justin Timberlake. It goes into further detail of how Timberlake weaponized his and Spears’ public breakup to his advantage with his “Cry Me A River” music video as well as enthusiastically acknowledging having sex with her during a radio interview.
The latter part of the episode showcases Spears’ 2007 mental health spiral, which is better known as the era in which Spears shaved her head––in the midst of a custody battle with her ex-husband Jason Alexander––and dealt with constant public scrutiny from paparazzi. Daniel Ramos recounts his encounter with the singer, who attacked his car with an umbrella saying, “I don’t appreciate you guys, leave me the eff alone.”
DePauw students were asked about whether they were aware of the recent revival of what was happening with Spears. Most information students have reported about had been from the app, Tik Tok.
“I didn’t really know about the situation. All I knew is what I have seen and heard on TikTok. I remember watching a Tik Tok [Britney Spears] and the comments were discussing how cringey it was. People went on in the comments saying [though] she has access to a phone, it is monitored [by] her father [who] has control over the content she posts. She has no say in everything that happens in her life,” sophomore Ashley Carrasquillo said.
Sophomore D’Naira Wigfall said, “I just started hearing about her father’s conservatorship over her in mid-2020...I first saw a TikTok where someone pointed out that Britney was doing something and a fan commented ‘wear yellow if you need help’ or something along those lines. In her next video, she [wore] a yellow top. After that, I watched a LovelyTi video from 2019 breaking down the situation.”
“Framing Britney Spears”' proved to be an emotionally-jarring episode encapsulating the singer’s life and career. Though rumors and scandals such as drug abuse were left out, the essence of the singer will not be lost within the hour-long episode. “Framing Britney Spears'' should be watched by anyone who is willing to learn more about the hit singer to understand why the #FreeBritney movement should be one that we all actively support and hold in our hearts. “Framing Britney Spears” is one hour, 13 minutes and is currently available to watch on Hulu.