Netflix debuts a new documentary on Britney Spears and her fight to freedom. The film takes you into the reality of Spears’s career and analyzes confidential documents that were anonymously sent in.
By Isabelle Delostrinos
2019 was filled with memorable moments in pop culture such as Jordyn Woods’ betrayal of Kylie Jenner, Olivia Jade and her mom’s college admissions scandal, and Trump vs. Chrissy Tiegen on Twitter. But a more serious matter was brought to attention and is still relevant today. After a social media hiatus and a suspicious return to Instagram, longtime fans of Britney Spears knew something was wrong. Fans made it a point to spread awareness of Spears’s conservatorship, creating the #FreeBritney movement. Since then, Britney Spears, pop icon and once America’s Sweetheart, has been fighting for her freedom.
Britney Spears is undoubtedly one of the most iconic female pop stars of our time. From 1998 to 2003, Spears brought in over $73 million dollars in sales from different categories. In 2004 she was the biggest selling female artist of her generation. From dancing with a python at the VMAs, rocking latex bodysuits (before Kim Kardashian), and making a cameo on Glee, Spears’s artistry was a force to be reckoned with. Her happy places were in the studio working on choreography, recording new singles, or being on stage in front of millions of people. But like many celebrities in the limelight, external problems consumed her life. Stressors from her personal relationships affected her mental health, leading to numerous breakdowns and hospitalizations.
Britney vs. Spears brings light to the conservatorship and the reality of her career. Journalists Erin Lee Car and Jenny Eliscu share their findings and what led to the conservatorship. They mention some of the people that influenced Spears’s mental instability, such as ex-husband Kevin Federline and former manager Sam Lutfi. Events like a public divorce and child custody battle kept the artist from making music. Crowds of paparazzi followed her every move, constantly interrogating Spears while dangerously snapping photos. Lack of support from her parents caused her to turn to people that didn’t have her best interests in mind. After completely shaving her head and being admitted to a psych ward, a temporary conservatorship over Spears was signed.
What differentiates this documentary about Spears from the others is the evidence presented. Car and Eliscu reveal that an anonymous source sent confidential documents to them in hopes to tell the truth about Jamie Spears, the father and head conservator of Britney Spears. Spoiler alert: her father and psychiatrists determine that Britney Spears is not fit to run her life and is determined that she has symptoms of dementia. It’s odd to see dementia be diagnosed at 28, especially for someone who was working and writing her own music. She then loses complete control of her decisions. Spears could not contact anyone unless approved or accept work opportunities unless approved. At times she didn’t know what was going on because her father basically became her. When the conservatorship became permanent in 2009, her finances and estate were signed off and put under Jamie Spears.
While on this conservatorship, Spears gave the world the Circus Tour, Femme Fatale album and tour, and the Piece of Me Vegas residency that equated to a world tour. She has creatively directed the majority of her projects by herself, defying the claims that she is not stable enough to be part of decision making processes. During this time, Spears also made appearances on How I Met Your Mother and X Factor. What seemed like a joyful Britney Spears during these years was really an unhappy artist making money for other people. Her love for performing and creating was exploited through conservatorship. To learn more about the conservatorship and what Jamie Spears tried to hide from the world, watch Britney vs. Spears on Netflix. It is an informative, eye-opening documentary that sheds light on Spears’s reality.
As of September 29, Jamie Spears has been removed as head of the conservatorship, being replaced temporarily by a Californian accountant. The next court hearing will take place on November 12 to determine if the conservatorship should be terminated.
Ryan Ford '23,