The episode featuring the pop star in the ‘New York Times Presents’ docu-series reignites the discussion about a woman’s financial freedom and identity
From the addicting tones of ‘Baby One More Time’ to the catchy techno melody of ‘Matches’, Spears never missed a beat; but it was her evolving image and confidence that entranced me and millions of others over the years. So when New York Times dropped ‘Framing Britney Spears’, the sixth episode in their New York Times Presents docu-series, I had to do an Internet deep dive to access the documentary – and it was worth it.
New York Times Presents, in its first season so far, has featured episodes covering the healthcare frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic, the killing of Breonna Taylor, the Australian bushfires, and the 17-year-old who hacked Twitter accounts of big names. But ‘Framing Britney Spears’, directed by Samantha Stark and written by Liz Day, comes at a time when the whole world is watching one of the biggest pop stars fight for access to the money she has made over the 20-plus years in the music industry. But what is appalling for many is that Spears is fighting her own father, Jamie Spears who is her conservator.
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The episode kicks off by establishing just how far Spears has come from her place as a bangs-toting songbird in the Mickey Mouse Club, to her first record label, to the hit-maker, raking in endorsements and roles in film and television. Britney, in the early 2000s, was a feminist of the teeny-bop variety; she wore whatever she wanted, she partied whenever she wanted, and she dated whomever she wanted.
Featuring confessionals from her former assistant, her former stylist, fan club presidents, lawyers, and archival footage from interviews with fans, Spears’ image is collated to be one of quite literally, ‘not a girl, not yet a woman.’ Though the artiste grew up with support from her mother and a few close friends, growing up was not easy.
Archival photographs of Britney Spears