Review of “New York times presents: Framing Britney Spears”

Noah Hogan | Staff Writer

In this combination photo, Jamie Spears, father of singer Britney Spears, leaves the Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Oct. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles, and Britney Spears arrives at the premiere of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” on July 22, 2019, in Los Angeles. Attorneys for the two sparred Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, over how he should share power with a financial company newly appointed as his partner in the conservatorship that controls her money. (AP Photo)

For the past 13 years, Britney Spears has lived her career in the shadows due to a court-sanctioned conservatorship.

“Framing Britney Spears,” a documentary by The New York Times, delves into the tumultuous career and personal life of Spears.

Since 2008 at age 26, Spears has been placed in a conservatorship to her father, James “Jamie” Spears. 

Now 39, the same fandom that Spears had built over the years is combating her conservators by using the hashtag #FreeBritney to bring attention to her legal battle against her father.

“I did not realize Britney Spears was trapped in a bad contract with her father. It felt like she slowly disappeared from the spotlight,”said Calyx Stover, a Hampton University journalism major from Boiling Springs, South Carolina..

According to Merriam Webster, a conservator can be defined as “a person, official or institution designed to take over and protect the interest of an incompetent.”

Usually used for the elderly, a conservator is only needed when an individual does not have the ability to take care of themselves. 

As conservator of the Spears estate, James “Jamie” Spears has controlled every aspect of his daughter’s life. From her career earnings to her medical decisions, Britney is seeking to take back control of herself. 

A major focus of the documentary is the re-examination of  the media’s role in the descent of one of the biggest pop stars of all time.

Journalists within the film explore the idea that Spears was ridiculed due to factors such as being a woman in a male-dominated industry and the confidence she carried within herself.

Inappropriate topics such as her breast or virginity were the type of conversations that Spears dealt with from an early age.

As she matured during the boom of blogs and tabloids, Britney was forced to publicly address tabloid narratives about promiscuity and her motherhood.

The docu-series extensively showcased the overt and systemic misogyny Spears and other female performers of the early 2000s faced within the entertainment industry.

“It’s sad that this episode highlights some of the sexisim issues that women still go through in any field but especially in the entertainment industry today,” Stover said. “It left me asking myself, ‘Has anything changed?’” 

The documentary features key interviews with important members of Spears’ inner circle, including family friends, marketing executives and lawyers who have worked on the conservatorship.

Although Britney Spears’ uphill battle with the media has been enlarged in part to her fame and fortune, her battle highlights the struggles that she and artists of different genders, ethnicities and genres go through on a daily basis when displaying their art.

“We’re loved and hated so much, especially in the entertainment culture,” recording artist and Hampton University alumnus Kaicash said. “We’ve already broken so many barriers and got the masses to adapt to what we create, but in hindsight, we’re still looked down upon, we’re still misunderstood, and we’re still ridiculed as well.”

As Spears’ conservatorship battles have not concluded, she is still optimistic that her fortunes will change for the better. She is hopeful to have her conservatorship transferred to a third-party institution that will keep her best interest at heart.

Both sides returned to court to determine the roles her father and the acting co-conservator, will play in handling her estate. The next hearing is scheduled for March 17.

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