New York Times documentary details Britney Spears’ conservatorship

Written By Tia Bailey, Co-Features/A&E Editor

5 Globes out of 5


“Princess of Pop” Britney Spears has been legally trapped in a conservatorship under her father since her “infamous” public breakdown in 2007. 

The New York Times released a documentary on Hulu titled “Framing Britney Spears” on Feb. 5. 

The documentary began with defining conservator: “one that preserves from injury or violation; protector,” and “a person, official, or institution designated to take over and protect the interests of an incompetent.” 

We are then introduced to a woman who used to be close to Britney—Felicia Culotta. Culotta talked about how her role with Britney was undefined at first, bouncing between chaperone and friend, until they settled on personal assistant. 

“Framing Britney Spears” begins with Culotta reminiscing on Britney’s talent growing up, and how her whole small town in Louisiana knew she was talented from singing in church. We are given a timeline of Britney’s rise to fame, and this is where things begin to get messy. 

When Britney was first gaining popularity, she was viewed as a “girl next door,” and was seen to be very innocent. When the “Baby One More Time” music video was released, fans and the media loved her. Her schoolgirl uniform made teens able to connect with her as a kid.

Wesley Morris, listed as a “Critic at Large” for the New York Times, noted “It isn’t the sexual part that seems cool. It’s the control and command over herself and her space that seems cool.” 

Members of Britney’s tour team said that she knew what she wanted, and she was in control of what happened on stage and on her tours. Kevin Tancharoen, a former backup dancer and tour director for Britney from 1999-2004, said, “The idea that Britney was a puppet who gets moved around and told what to do is incredibly inaccurate.” He said that was how he got hired, because Britney wanted something done and pointed him out, saying she wanted him to do it. 

In the clip of Britney onstage telling her team how she wanted something done, someone called her a diva. Being a young woman under the public eye, Britney had to deal with a lot of misogyny. There is even a clip from when she was just 10 years old singing on stage, and when she was finished, the host, Ed McMahon, asked her why she didn’t have a boyfriend. McMahon was in his late 60’s at the time. 

A lot of the misogyny was directly aimed at Britney by the media. The documentary interviewed paparazzi who would follow her everywhere she went. Daniel Ramos, a celebrity videographer from 2004-2013, took photos and videos of Britney when they were selling for up to $1 million a piece. He talked about how Britney enjoyed being followed by the paparazzi when she first rose to fame, and said that she and the photographers needed each other. 

However, as time went on, Britney’s “good girl” image went away. The documentary shows every element that went into this happening, and it’s evident that this wasn’t Britney’s doing. The media, ex-boyfriends and more tarnished Britney’s image, and it all led to her meltdown. 

From there, “Framing Britney Spears” focuses on the conservatorship, and how she is trapped in it. Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, is legally in charge of her person as well as her estate, meaning he makes all decisions regarding her and her money. Since the conservatorship, Britney has been forced into hospitalization multiple times and has tried to get out of the conservatorship but keeps losing the battle in court. 

The only win Britney has seen now is a bank can co-own her estate alongside her father, so Jamie is not the only one in charge of her finances. However, he still has sole control over her and refuses to give it up. Unfortunately, this is where the documentary ends, as Britney is still trapped in this situation. 

The documentary gave a much deeper look into the “#FreeBritney” situation than social media has shown. Seeing the whole situation unfold on screen was an eye-opening experience, and hopefully change will come now that the public knows the whole story.