The world will always want a piece of Britney Spears
In 2016, the New York Times was the first major publication to highlight an alarming gap between Britney Spears’ flourishing career – a Las Vegas residency, new record, TV cameos – and the incapacity implied by the existence of a court-ordered guardianship , which generally only applies to the elderly or severely disabled. Almost five years later, the newspaper published Coaching Britney Spears, an empathetic examination of the life of the pop star, through their New York Times Gifts series with FX and Hulu. The documentary focused on the circumstances that led to the guardianship – her messy divorce from Kevin Federline, the custody battle for their two young sons, the relentless attention of the paparazzi – and drew a clear line between the cruel treatment of Spears by the media over the years and his 2008 hospitalization. Simple but enlightening, the hour-long film effectively shifted the narrative around the pop star, whose most die-hard fans have been clamoring for her freedom for over a decade. Not only has the doc drawn a new wave of attention to Spears’ efforts to remove his father Jamie as a curator, including a New Yorker investigation, this too guest many viewers reconsidering the time’s toxicity to young female stars, and begging penance from late-night hosts, bloggers and ex-boyfriends who once vilified her.
Since the release of Coaching Britney Spears At the beginning of February, a small cottage industry of documentaries on the life of the pop star and his legal problems emerged. Last month, days before Netflix released Britney vs. Spears, the Times published a sequel by surprise, Controlling Britney Spears. This isn’t the first time the Two Streaming Scions have released competing pop culture documentaries – remember the double-serving of Fyre Fest movies? CNN and the BBC, feels unsavory as they each point out the harmful role of the media in their lives. Like spears wrote on Instagram, “These documentaries are so hypocritical… they criticize the media and then do the same ?????” The particularly thorny parts of the Spears case – the problems of childhood and autonomy, hypersexualization and the entertainment industry, mental health stigmas are also the ones that need to be released if we ever hope to grow up. But at what point does documentation cease to be productive and only perpetuate a traumatic narrative?
The Times and Netflix documentaries have been productive in that they exposed new information regarding the Spears case. Controlling Britney Spears opens outside a Los Angeles courthouse in June 2021 as Spears first spoke publicly about the oppressive structure of guardianship: “I’m so angry it’s crazy and I’m depressed. I cry every day… It’s embarrassing and demoralizing what I’ve been through, and that’s the main reason I never said it openly. The film goes on to explain how Spears was abused by the people who were supposed to keep her safe. A former member of his security team describes using an iPad to monitor Spears’ iCloud activity, from searching the web to texting with family and friends; he also claims that audio recording equipment was installed in the singer’s bedroom. Spears’ legal team cited the revelations in their third request to remove Jamie from his estate, and on September 29, a judge ruled he would be suspended from guardianship after 13 years of overseeing all aspects of the estate. life of his daughter.
While the Times‘the films use a cultural angle, Britney vs. Spears digs into the mechanics of Spears’ tutelage. Film director Erin Lee Carr has made several real-life police documentaries on the investigation sexual and medical abuse, and to his team’s credit, they uncover disturbing new information. In the middle of the film, an anonymous source provides unredacted documents regarding the creation and maintenance of the guardianship. The wealth of information includes a 2008 medical report that claimed Spears lacked the ability to “retain and lead counsel” and listed “dementia-related orders” as the cause of the guardianship. Meanwhile, Spears was back at work, as a guest in how I Met Your Mother and the recording of his sixth album, Circus. When Carr finds the geriatric psychiatrist listed in Spears’ court documents, he refuses to admit that he has already assessed the singer. The film later plays a 2009 voice mail message from Spears to an outside lawyer, where she asked for her own lawyer as well as reassurance that removing guardianship would not impact visits with her children. . The film’s portrayal of the bubble built around Spears reaches a dramatic climax when Jenny Eliscu, executive producer and Rolling stone journalist, remembers how she passed legal papers for the singer to sign in a hotel bathroom.
At the end of Britney vs. SpearsThere is no question that Jamie Spears and other members of the singer’s team and family abused their power. But along the way, the film loses sight of the woman at the heart of the matter. Carr talks at length to men about Spears’ past, including former manager Sam Lutfi and paparazzo-turned-boyfriend Adnan Ghalib. The two provide insight into Spears’ state of mind when the Guardianship was created and are allowed to justify their treatment of Spears – Lutfi denies ever drugging the singer, as her family claimed. But neither are in a rush on their motivations to speak on the record, and they add to an ever-growing list of people who are complicit in injuring Spears.