What Is Framing Britney Spears About?

It is difficult to fathom the idea of a dystopian existence. Even in fiction one hopes that the protagonist will find a way to overthrow the oppressive regime. Yet, in the stark reality that the viral documentary The New York Times presents: Framing Britney Spears conveys, the end, whether happy or tragic is still unpredictable. Britney Spears, the most iconic pop sensation of the 90s has had a tumultuous existence since her rise to fame as a teenager. She experienced dizzying heights of success as a singer with hits like ‘Baby one more time’ and ‘Toxic’, numbers that are popular even to date. But intense public scrutiny, almost akin to harassment as well as the sexualization by the media at a very tender age triggered a mental health crisis and terrible public breakdowns that lead her into a dark spiral, one that forced Britney Spears into the conservatorship of her father in 2008.

About Framing Britney Spears

In a nutshell, Framing Britney Spears is a documentary produced and directed by Samantha Stark that delves into the life of the pop star. It takes a hard look at her early life, explores the harsh reality of her father, Jamie Spears’ conservatorship of Britney, and draws attention to the #FreeBritney movement that has taken social media by storm.

The more jarring aspects of the documentary show raw footage of older male journalists putting Britney through the wringer with uncomfortable questions about her body and sex. It sheds light on how she was treated at the height of her career, pretty much like she was a piece of meat, as everyone just watched on, not stepping in even once to call out the sexist behavior of media. It was apparent that no one tried to protect her from its wicked scrutiny. Even Justin Timberlake, her then-boyfriend, capitalized off of their relationship by painting her as a cheater in Cry me a river for which he has now issued an apology.

Certain parts of the documentary, like when she shaved her head can be recalled without even a media reference, so widespread was the coverage of Britney having a mental breakdown. After all of the public shaming and judgment, Spears was put under her father’s conservatorship by the court. A conservator is a judge-appointed guardian who has been assigned to take care of the financial as well as everyday aspects of a person who has physical and mental limitations. Conservators are generally appointed for the old and aged, who are unable to take care of themselves and need care. But Jamie has been controlling her finances and pretty much every aspect of her life since 2008. He controls her estate, manages all her financial assets, decides where and when she performs and allocates her allowances among other things.

The worst bit is that one cannot begin to predict how deep the control truly is. Fans realized that something was terribly wrong because of Britney’s Instagram content. Videos of Britney looking odd and unnatural raised a lot of concern among fans.

A lot became apparent in the recent court hearing when her lawyer Samuel D Ingham III told the judge that she is afraid of her father and that she has absolutely no control over her $60 million fortune. This propelled the #FreeBritney movement which has only been snowballing ever since her Instagram posts drew attention to her condition.

Fans and celebrities are ardently supporting Britney right now. The hope is that Britney will be free of her father’s conservatorship one day. We cannot be sure how Britney herself feels about the situation or what she has to say about everything that is happening because she is not allowed to directly communicate with anyone. Even when Stark tried to reach out to Britney for the documentary, her publicist and reps made it impossible for the director to directly speak to her.

Times have changed now. Gone are the days when journalists like Ed McMahon and Perez Hilton could get away with bashing and taunting Britney as they did. With the changing nature of tabloids and journalism, one can hope that Britney Spears’s dystopia is never repeated again. Even Britney has responded to the documentary in a hopeful, positive way by posting this performance from three years ago.


Since the documentary came out last week, the #FreeBritney movement has gained massive traction. Already the court has denied Jamie Spears’s request to have an upper hand over Bessemer Trust with whom he shared co-conservatorship of Britney. One can only hope that Britney will be free of her father’s control one day.

Featured Image Credit: Britney Spears Instagram