World news – Britney Spears’ framing is missing a crucial piece

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Is there a more ironic song title than Britney Spears’ « Oops! … I did it again »? On the lead hit single of her second album, Spears loudly said she had her power over the pop charts (and men) in the bogus « Who me? » Perplexity. Here it was and it did it again: monopolizing the air waves and selling millions of records. The title sounded somber, but it explained the opposite: There was nothing random about anything Spears did. But nobody believed her. Oops.

The idea of ​​Britney Spears as a kind of performer savant – someone who can get the job done, but accidentally, randomly, oopstastically – is at the heart of Framing Britney Spears. The documentary, produced by the New York Times for FX and Hulu, shows the misogyny and tabloid cruelty that has haunted Spears’ entire career and led to her current situation: She is a 39-year-old woman and a highly functioning professional nonetheless she is still bound by a legal conservatory that restricts her freedom, which a judge confirmed in court on Thursday.

The documentary makes the compelling case that the conception of Spears as a woman who is incapable to take care of herself as well as the breakdown that brought her to the conservatory in the first place, the end products of the gazing and judgmental treatment she is always facing. Ever since she appeared on Star Search as a teenager and hosted Ed McMahon asked if he could be her boyfriend, the culture has focused on her sexuality. When she got really famous at the end of the millennium, she was bombarded with inappropriate questions about her virginity, a curiosity that never stopped but which – as the documentary narrated – became particularly vicious after she broke up with Justin Timberlake we cried for a river when he publicly accused her of betraying him. Their breakup sparked a new level of control from tabloids and paparazzi, who began to drive a narrative about a woman out of control and make terrible decisions after terrible decisions, even when monitored around the clock, especially after giving birth to Her two children actively contributed to her deterioration in mental health. The thought that you are constantly being followed, every movement, every word that is overheard can be a sign of madness. in Spears’ case, it was just the truth. The documentary is particularly good at her infamous head shave, which at the time was seen as further evidence that she’s lost her footing. In retrospect, it’s as logical as mathematical proof telling the paparazzi that I’m a different kind of person and a different kind of photography now.

Misogyny is one of the lenses through which you can see Spears’ abuse , but there is another one that can be used: the social class. When the tabloids turned Spears on to Timberlake, the narrative they pushed, the outrage they sold was less explicitly about licentiousness than about an All-American girl who turned out to be white trash. There is a lot of misogyny in this, but even more class judgment. The photos were of that anyway: spears in Uggs and tracksuits went through the driveway, fetched Starbucks, grabbed chips at the pharmacy, their hair was messed up. Husband Kevin Federline has been implicitly contrasted with Timberlake as a minor matter – as has Spear’s behavior in her short-lived marriage to childhood friend, Jason Alexander. That’s not what good girls do, but it’s not what classy girls do either. The questions Britney would continue to ask about her mother are not just questions women face – they are specifically questions poor women face who are constantly harassed for not giving their children the « right » thing. Providing home.

That Spears was not poor at all at the time only added to the feeling of outrage: She’s rich enough to do anything, and she does this? She went up the class leader and now she is deliberately going down. She must be crazy. Even now, as sexism promotes Britney’s perpetual conservation, would a man in her position be considered unfit to lead his own life? – so does classicism. Would she really know what to do with her money if she controlled it? Just look at their tastes.

The documentary has sparked conversations on Twitter for the past few days about how awful and cruel the celebrity culture was in the Aughts. And it’s true, there has been a remarkable shift in the public’s attitudes toward the famous, a merciless gape, and an invasive voyeurism that gives way to a more serious, revered Stan culture. I can understand the impulse to pat us on the back for this transformation to become kinder, gentler and wok, but I’m not sure what has changed is our sensitivity as much as our sources.

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In the Aughts, information about celebrities still largely came from paparazzi-run tabloids, benefiting from the drama and the lowest of tensions exploited in our culture. They were cruel, cheeky cheeky, and unabashed in ways that could be fun if you gloss over the humanity of the celebrity they toast on the spit. One of the things that has changed since then is our growing awareness of that humanity – because now our gossip comes from the celebrities themselves. When you access a celebrity on a social media feed, you get it from their perspective. They will see what to expect from you, which often includes what cuts, hurts and bothers them. You will see them as people, not just as avatars of our social problems. It has resulted in a more humane, more personable attitude – but I don’t know how much credit we can take for that. The way we get the story has changed, not us.

When I have an argument with Framing Britney Spears, it is that he is a little too thoroughly inhabited by the new, gentler, celebrity culture . It just glosses over Spears as a victim of our gross culture, and while she is a victim of our gross culture, that skips the period of time she controlled it like a puppet. Successful celebrities do it to shape and respond to how people think of you without getting run over by people’s opinion of you. It’s very hard, and it’s what Spears once made easy. There it is again.

For a period of about four years, Spears effortlessly surfed our disgusting fascination with maturation and inhabited the “no girl, no woman” area long before she made a song of it. She took the glaring and downright creepy interest in her blossoming sexuality and turned it into her VMA performance of « Satisfaction, » which crossed the line between factually tame and totally tickling. She got almost to adult sexuality with « I’m a Slave 4 U » played while fiddling with a giant boa constrictor and her career has been swimming. Until then, the pressure on her, always enormous and sexist, was only greater. She could no longer thread the eye of an ever-tightening needle and her reputation stumbled – although never quite her career. That she still has one – the reason she isn’t someone we feel bad about if only we could remember her – is because of the time she was one step ahead when she controlled the narrative . A class.

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