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    18 Things We Learned From "Framing Britney Spears"

    #FreeBritney

    This weekend, The New York Times Presents — an ongoing series of stand-alone documentaries covering a range of topics — released its latest episode: Framing Britney Spears.

    Title card for Framing Britney Spears
    Hulu

    The doc follows Britney's career, from her humble beginnings through her public relationships (namely with Justin Timberlake and Kevin Federline), then through the events of 2007 and ending with the ongoing conversation about her conservatorship and the #FreeBritney movement.

    Hulu, Handout / Getty Images

    Now, as a longtime stan of Britney's, I was excited to watch this doc, to say the least. But Framing Britney Spears was more than an account of her life up until now; it showcased hot topic “scandals” from the past through a more educated lens (e.g., better understanding of mental health, greater awareness of the double standard between men and women, etc.).

    MTV

    The documentary was, in a word, eye-opening. Here's everything we learned:

    1. The documentary starts with this fact: Jamie Spears, Britney’s father, has been in charge of her estate for the past 12 YEARS, despite the fact that Britney has asked the court to appoint someone else as her conservator.

    A T-shirt that reads "Her loneliness is killing me...#Free Britney"
    Hulu

    A conservator, according to Merriam-Webster, is "a person, official, or institution designated to take over and protect the interests of an incompetent; an official charged with the protection of something affecting public welfare and interests."

    2. Felicia Culotta — longtime family friend and sometime guardian of Britney — only agreed to do the interview to remind people of who Britney was.

    An old photo of Britney and Felicia
    Hulu

    Her title was technically "assistant," but it the early days, she was more of a guardian because Jamie and Lynne, Britney's mother, couldn’t move with Britney to New York while she recorded "...Baby One More Time." Later, when Jamie became Britney’s conservator, Felicia went to work on Britney’s tours and merchandise, but through her label.

    3. Britney's breakout moment was starring in The Mickey Mouse Club, but after the show wrapped, she went back home to Louisiana for a couple of years.

    Britney talking about playing basketball in high school
    Hulu

    IDK why, but I never pictured Britney actually attending high school — even though she's synonymous with the "iconic schoolgirl." I thought she went straight from MMC to "...Baby One More Time."

    4. At the beginning of Britney’s career, Jamie wasn’t a presence in her life.

    Kim Kaiman giving an interview
    Hulu

    Kim Kaiman, the senior director of marketing at Jive Records during Britney's rise to the top, had this to say about her father: "The only thing Jamie ever said to me was, 'My daughter is going to be so rich, she's gonna buy me a boat.' That's all I'm gonna say about Jamie."

    5. Britney started performing at shopping malls, which is where she performed her first single, "...Baby One More Time."

    Archived footage of Britney Spears performing "...Baby One More Time" in a mall
    Hulu

    I know everyone gets their start somewhere, but it's still a little mind-boggling to think of Britney performing for FREE at SHOPPING MALLS!

    6. Britney's rise to fame came in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky–Bill Clinton affair, which changed the conversation about sex because it marked an era of women being “at fault.”

    Hulu

    Hayley Hill, who used to be Britney’s stylist — and worked with other popular teen performers of the early ’00s — had this to say about the way the media talked about Britney’s sex life and relationships: "I worked with all of the boy bands — all of them. Not one of the boys were ever under this much scrutiny."

    7. The Britney-and-Justin split was 100% told from his point of view, and Britney didn’t get a chance to contribute to the narrative — leading to a “pure male revenge fantasy” that was played out in the media.

    Jive

    Kevin Tancharoen, Britney’s former backup dancer and tour director, said that "Cry Me a River" was "a pure male revenge fantasy." ALSO, I would like to add, it was never confirmed whether Britney cheated or not...but you know what we do know? Justin went on a radio show and cockily bragged about having sex with her, which was, IMO, a dick move.

    8. I was not at ALL aware of this interview between Britney and Diane Sawyer, but the entire clip breaks my heart. Britney actually ends the interview early because she gets really emotional about the line of questioning.

    Hulu

    And about then–first lady of Maryland Kendel Ehrlich's comment: Like, what kind of person goes on record SAYING THAT ABOUT ANOTHER PERSON? ALL BECAUSE HER RELATIONSHIP ENDED WITH JUSTIN AND BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO LIVE HER LIFE??? Also, at this time, Britney was 22 and Kendel was 42...do with that information what you will.

    9. Photos of Britney Spears could sell for up to $1 million...EACH!

    Hulu

    No wonder she was hounded by the paparazzi! But also, it makes me sad, because she could never have any privacy.

    10. She was hounded by photogs everywhere she went.

    Britney walking somewhere while she's surrounded by dozens of photogs
    Hulu

    See above.

    11. Britney broke down during an interview with Matt Lauer while saying that her wish was for the paparazzi to leave her alone.

    Britney crying during an interview with Matt Lauer
    Hulu

    And yet...this didn't stop any of them.

    12. Britney's tragedy was turned into an actual Family Feud question.

    A board on Family Feud
    Hulu

    The prompt, you may ask? "Name something Britney Spears has lost in the past year." Just...wow.

    13. According to attorney Adam Streisand, Britney wanted "a professional; somebody independent" to be the conservator of her person and estate.

    Adam Streisand saying that Britney didn't want her father to be her conservator
    Hulu

    Adam, whom Britney wanted to represent her at the time, said that she understood that this conservatorship was going to happen — she just didn't want her father to be the person in charge.

    14. The judge in the first court hearing for her conservatorship didn't deem Britney fit to retain counsel because of a "medical report," a report that Adam, her lawyer at the time, was not allowed to see.

    Adam Streisand talking about his experience trying to represent Britney
    Hulu

    The court appointed Samuel D. Ingham III as Britney's counsel.

    15. The burden of proof lies on the conservatee to prove that they no longer need a conservator, which, according to attorney Vivian Thoreen, is rare.

    Vivian giving an interview in Framing Britney Spears
    Hulu

    Vivian is a lawyer on Jamie Spears’ team working to maintain his conservatorship over Britney — she also did not speak about Britney’s case in specifics.

    16. LITERALLY, a few months into the conservatorship that Britney was placed in after her "public meltdown," she released Circus, went on a world tour, and won multiple awards.

    Jive

    Suddenly the lyric, "All eyes on me in the center of the ring, just like a circus," hits a lil' different...

    17. The podcast Britney's Gram popularized #FreeBritney after an anonymous tip came in that Britney was in a mental health facility after canceling her second Vegas residency.

    18. Her brother, Bryan, went on the podcast and made this comment when asked about Britney's conservatorship and how she feels about it.

    Bryan interviewing on a podcast
    Hulu

    There you have it, folks.

    Overall, the documentary is heartbreaking and informative and will have you chanting #FreeBritney with the rest of the stans. I'll leave you with this statement, which sums up my sentiments succinctly.

    Adam Streisand saying that Britney doesn't need a conservatorship
    Hulu

    You can watch the documentary right now on Hulu.

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