The revealing film ‘Framing Britney Spears’ dives into the singer’s conservatorship and her fight for freedom
Britney Spears has been framed by the media in many ways: a Disney protégé, America’s “girl next door,” a Hollywood heartbreaker, a woman unhinged and an industry villain. Her image—this time, the real Britney—is being reinvented again as a woman struggling for freedom. It’s all in an episode of Hulu’s New York Times Presents documentary series called Framing Britney Spears.
The documentary exposé—which has been blocked in Canada by both YouTube and Vimeo since its February 5 release—follows Spears through the highs and lows of her career, showing her struggles at the mercy of relentless paparazzi, vicious tabloid magazines and not-so-trustworthy folks intent on taking advantage of her.
The main focus, however, is the conservatorship initiated by her father, Jamie Spears, and the resulting #FreeBritney movement focused on giving her back the control she once had. Here, all your questions about Framing Britney Spears answered.
How do I watch Framing Britney Spears in Canada?
Copies of the film were uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo in the days following the film’s release on FX and Hulu. By Feb. 26, Canadians will be able to watch the documentary on Crave, and Netflix is reportedly working on its own film, directed by filmmaker Erin Lee Carr, about Spears’s life.
What is a conservatorship, and what does it mean for Britney Spears?
A conservatorship—granted by a judge—gives a person or organization responsibility of care for another adult who is deemed unable to care for themselves, or manage their own finances. This kind of agreement is most commonly seen when dealing with the elderly and not, as the documentary explains, a productive young adult like Spears.
After Spears was put under a psychiatric hold in February 2018, her father Jamie was granted temporary conservatorship over her assets, estate and business affairs. It was made permanent later that year in October. Jamie later stepped down as conservator in September 2019 due to health reasons, and Britney’s “care manager” Jodi Montgomery took his place.
Lawyer Andrew Wallet had been appointed as co-conservator alongside Jamie. He resigned in 2019 when Britney’s Las Vegas residency was cancelled.
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Last summer, new court documents, made public by People, suggested that Britney didn’t want her father returning as conservator, and instead prefers Montgomery to take full control. But on November 10, 2020, her request to remove her father from her conservatorship was denied by a judge.
The film shows Britney’s lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, repeatedly saying that the singer has said she’s afraid of her father.
How did the #FreeBritney movement start?
#FreeBritney is a grassroots movement that started in 2009 in response to the 2008 court decision to appoint a conservator for Spears. The movement really gained steam on Twitter and in a podcast called “Britney’s Gram” in 2019. Her biggest fans took to dissecting her seemingly cryptic Instagram posts, reading into every detail as a cry for help from Britney.
This isn’t a coincidence anymore Britney Spears is sending messages for help. #freebritney pic.twitter.com/Qv2NnZyZhV
— All Aboard The #FreeBritney Bus (@touchofpisces) July 8, 2020
Members of the movement congregated outside the courthouse where Britney’s case regarding her conservatorship was being heard last year. They were some of the first to break the news that Jamie would not be removed as her conservator.
What really happened with Justin Timberlake?
A major turning point in Britney’s evolution in the media from homegrown pop star to heartless man-eater comes down to her break-up with Justin Timberlake following a very public, three-year relationship.
Britney was a victim of the misogyny and sexism rife in the entertainment industry at that time (and, TBH, today.) Whereas Timberlake was painted as a heartbroken man, Britney received different treatment, portrayed in the public eye as promiscuous and careless, as the film details.
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His music video for “Cry Me A River” did an excellent job at perpetuating that belief. In audio clips shared in the documentary, Timberlake is heard on a radio show joking about having sex with her, when Britney had been open in the past about waiting until marriage.
What has Britney’s boyfriend Sam Asghari had to say about this?
Britney’s longtime boyfriend, who often stars in her workout-related Instagram posts, recently broke his silence on issues brought up by the documentary. In an Instagram Stories post on February 9, he wrote: “It’s important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles in our way.”
“In my opinion, Jamie is a total dick,” he continued, referring to Spears’ father. “I won’t be going into details because I’ve always respected our privacy, but at the same time I didn’t come to this country to not be able to express my opinion and freedom.”
Is Britney Spears done performing forever?
The documentary shows the moment she walked away from her Las Vegas residency, Domination, in 2019. Instead of making an announcement, she walked off stage and into the night, not stopping for any reporters. From that day, it was indefinitely postponed.
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Court documents, obtained by Entertainment Tonight, suggest that Britney doesn’t want to perform anymore. The news is part of a motion to prevent Wallet from becoming a co-conservator.
Whether the pop star performs again or not doesn’t seem to be as much of a concern to her fans as freeing her is. While the documentary didn’t end with this happy resolution, the wheels are clearly in motion—and Britney is cracking that whip.