There have been a number of documentaries about Britney in the last few years, but this one has taken a different line. Rather than recataloguing her moments of madness, it concentrates on the egregious nature of her treatment by the press, and on the conservatorship under which she’s been held for so long.
The main thrust of the narrative is that Britney no longer wants her father to be her conservator, if she ever did, and the fact that he insists on holding on to this role against her wishes is both suspicious and concerning, and lacking in care and consideration for her wishes and needs.
The suspicion is that the conservatorship may have been treated somewhat like a business in which everyone involved is making substantial amounts of money. The concern is the incentive that must exist to persist with the conservatorship instead of helping Britney get to a point where it can end and she can return to the normal status of an independent, confident and healthy adult woman. Only recently has she fought back, with an application to court for the removal of her father as conservator and a refusal to perform again while her father remains in place.
The alternative view is that the conservatorship has been good for Britney because it protects her from herself and stops her from mixing with the wrong crowd, being taken advantage of, engaging in irrational or irresponsible actions, and lapsing into mental health problems. While all this may be true, the financial undertow makes it natural to speculate that the focus of the conservators may have gradually transitioned from care and compassion to business management.
Within the #FreeBritney movement, many are deeply concerned that Britney is under such tight control by her father as to be almost a prisoner – while being perfectly competent to deal with her own business and her own life. She has especially vocal and emotional support among gay men within the movement, who feel that Britney was there for them when they were young and struggling and she was able to bring happiness into their lives and encourage them to have a sense of rebellion and freedom. And now they want to help her because she helped them. That sentiment is beautiful and powerful.
As far as Jamie Spears goes… the jury’s out. He stepped up at a critical and dangerous moment, yet it seems incongruous that, having been absent from much of Britney’s life, he now wants to control her. Maybe he’s trying to make up for past failings. Or maybe it’s a comfortable income at last for a man who has often struggled financially. Britney’s manager early in her career, Kim Gaiman, recalled in the documentary “The only thing Jamie ever said to me was: “My daughter is going to be so rich she’s going to buy me a boat,” This was before she became famous. And Kim didn’t like the tone of his remark. “The way it was said to me wasn’t in a supportive way, that is not the tone in which it was said to me, I can’t say it was a positive thing he said.”
But regardless of his motivations, the fact remains that Britney doesn’t want him as her conservator any more, and she should have some say in the matter. She has apparently said that she’s afraid of him and her long-term boyfriend has spoken of Jamie in unambiguously disparaging terms. We can have a discussion about whether Britney should be in a conservatorship at all, but at the very least we should consider that being under Jamie’s control can’t be good for her mental health.
In the context of personal decision-making ability, something that stood out in this documentary was the fact that so much of Britney’s success in her career has been of her own making, most obviously in her visionary concepts for her videos and shows, and from the choice of songs on her albums. It was clear that from a very young age she was the one calling the shots and asserting her creative freedom. Even then, she knew what to do to get attention and blow audiences away. It seems incongruous that someone who gained such success through the smartness of her choices as a 17-18-year-old should now be living under an arrangement whereby she has to ask permission to spend her own money.
Clearly something went horribly wrong as the years passed, but can those who control her, including the courts, be certain that this was not just a rough patch? Many celebrities have suffered from mental health issues, but is it necessary to treat Britney as a child?
Most of us remember how we watched that “BOMT” video for the first time and were in awe of her coolness and sexiness, and recall the impact it had on us. . Grown-ups didn’t know what to make of her, but wanted her banned or shot for corrupting their daughters with her Lolita-like image! What a bunch of idiots they all were. They didn’t understand her because they had no idea what it was like to be her. Most of us had no idea what it was like to be Britney either but we identified with her – we were at that point in our lives when you’re starting to think about sex and you’re horny-as-hell but at the same time you’re not sure what to do about it!
And there Britney was… a young girl who had found the PERFECT circumstances to express her sexuality. She created her own safe space in every performance so she could let go of all the sexual energy that was building up inside her. She wanted to be free to do that and then to be left alone afterwards…. and we got that, we got that so much because we also wanted to be able to experience our sexuality with no questions asked. This was what we needed and we saw it in Britney. Adults never seemed to understand her because they wanted her to be one dimensional and simple… but she was always a complicated girl… just like the rest of us. And that’s why we loved her.
“I’ll always love being on stage” she says now. “But I am taking the time to learn and be a normal person ….. I love simply enjoying the basics of everyday life !!!!” she said. “Each person has their story and their take on other people’s stories !!!! We all have so many different bright beautiful lives !!! Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person’s life it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens.”