Britney Spears is not in charge of her finances or many elements of her life. But could a documentary change that?
“Framing Britney Spears” is a documentary on the FX series “The New York Times Presents” about the star’s ongoing battle for independence.
It covers the entirety of her career from beginning to end, and it discusses the serious issues she had along the way, including the conservatorship that her father has over her.
The legal battle between Spears and her father, Jamie Spears, is an issue that is very relevant today, because, the judge for a recent court hearing denied Spears’ request to have her father removed from her conservatorship. This was not the outcome that her supporters were hoping for.
One aspect that the documentary seems to gloss over is what a conservatorship actually is. It only discusses how it relates to Spears in general terms.
“A lot of times, conservatorship is looked at as something that happens to old people and old people that have disabilities, but that’s not always the case,” said Sam Davis-Boyd, a media and communication professor at Castleton University. “There’s lots of young people that this happens to. Young people – that have disabilities. I don’t think that’s necessarily talked about. Where Britney falls in this, I have no idea. But, I think that was really a fault of the documentary – not addressing more about what conservatorship is.”
The supporters of the #FreeBritney movement anxiously checked their phones during the hearing, constantly looking for updates and information on what the verdict would be. Obviously, they hoped that Jamie Spears would be removed from his daughter’s conservatorship, so she could be considered “free.” But, that was not the result.
Jamie Spears is no stranger to harsh criticism. Britney Spears supporters believe he does not genuinely care for his daughter and that the only reason he wanted her to become famous in the first place was for his own financial gain. Now that he is fighting to remain in control of his daughters’ finances, they are even more convinced.
“I’m not impressed with Jamie Spears, because for one, it’s flat-out creepy when a father pushes the media sexualization of his own daughter at such a vulnerable age, and now, so many years later – he’s still taking her money!” said fellow media and communication professor Stephanie Wilson.
Many of the arguments of the #FreeBritney movement are against Jamie Spears. The general opinion seems to be that he is just using his daughter for money and that if she is able to put out music, tour, and put on elaborate shows, then she is able to control her own life.
“To be honest, her father disgusts me. I think it’s pretty clear that he’s controlled this situation to make money, without caring for Britney’s well-being. I don’t know much about the situation with the courts, but I think it’s really messed up that she still hasn’t been listened to,” said Lily Doton, a Castleton sophomore.
The documentary also explored Spears’ life as a woman in the music industry. The blatant sexism and misogyny that she had to deal with on a day-to-day basis. For instance, Kendel Ehrlich, the wife of the Governor of Maryland at the time, said that if she had the opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, she would.
“I think people are scared when women are powerful,” said Aris Sherwood, a Castleton junior and managing editor of the school newspaper. “The relationship with women between women is just as bad as the relationship between men and women.”
More recently, people have been deeply involved in Spears’ Instagram. There are videos of her dancing around and acting in a way that has convinced some that she is sending out secret messages. Others believe that she’s just being herself and that what she posts should be taken at face value.
“From what I’ve seen from Britney Spears, I think she’s deeply traumatized from what she went through. She lost her childhood … I think we should leave Britney Spears alone. I think we all just need to let her live and do her thing and let her heal … Just peace and clarity is what she needs now more than anything,” Sherwood said.