vanessa’s review published on Letterboxd:
"You want a piece of me"
We might think we remember how awful the 2000s were regarding paparazzi culture, the media and misogyny in general but then you watch something like this and the sheer ghoulishness hits you in the face like a brick. It’s truly shocking how Britney and other girls her age were treated during that time. The blunt hatred public figures had for her, telling a 20 year old girl they would like to shoot her over a fucking breakup, her team’s obsession with making her virginity front and center of her story while sexualising her as much as possible and the media eating it up, a shitty ex-boyfriend using her name for years to get attention because he knew it was the only thing that made him interesting, the media dragging her through the mud on a daily basis, paparazzi stalking and harassing her wherever she went, her family seeing her as nothing but a cash cow, taking and taking from her until she couldn’t do it anymore and then taking even more. Britney has been trapped for so long, even before the conservatorship she barely had any freedom or privacy and couldn’t do anything without being watched and scrutinised by the entire world.
Maybe it’s just being older and looking back at it from a distance or maybe it’s how much the media landscape has changed since then but it’s hard to imagine that it was ever acceptable that people, especially young girls that were barely adults were treated like this. And not just that, it was encouraged, it was some kind of national sport to tear them down, to cheer on their downfall, in some cases to wait for them to die.
While I wish Framing Britney Spears had taken more time to explore the first years of Britney’s career and what made her so great instead of just focusing on the media attention she got since her early days because I feel like that’s something that’s often forgotten nowadays where she has been either a joke or something to worry about for over a decade, I do understand that this is just not the main focus on the documentary. Meanwhile when it comes to the conservatorship the movie does a great job illustrating the situation, both how and when conservatorships are generally applied as well as what went down in Britney’s case. It shows Britney first agreeing to the conservatorship under the one condition that she would not be under her father’s control and then having just that one wish denied, losing control over her entire life and career and having to make money for him ever since.
The #FreeBritney movement has been gaining more and more traction over the past year and this documentary might be the final impulse to take it from niche internet thing to something the general public might take seriously. There might still be a lot of pieces missing, things we don’t know and documents that aren’t accessible but the facts Framing Britney Spears presents are bad enough to make more people ask questions about the legitimacy of Britney’s conservatorship.
At this point there’s only one thing left to say: Free Britney!