Home Arts & Entertainment A Toxic Environment: A review of Hulu’s ‘Framing Britney Spears’

A Toxic Environment: A review of Hulu’s ‘Framing Britney Spears’

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A column header designed for Night Light by Jamie Miller, a culmination of reviews opinion from a night owl (Abby Haywood/The Collegiate).

By Jamie Miller

Greetings Nightlighters, it is I, “The man still seeking Amy” Jamie Miller here with yet another issue of Nightlight. Now, as you all likely know, Britney Spears has been comedy cannon fodder. From “Saturday Night Live” and “Robot Chicken,” even to kid shows such as “The Fairly OddParents” everyone has taken their shots. We all seemed to revel in her fall from grace, we took some kind of sadistic glee in it. However, as per usual in cases of court of public opinion, we didn’t know the full story or what Spears was suffering from… until now. As we tune into “The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears,” the previously untold story rolls out. And what a story it is!

The documentary begins in the present talking about how her father Jamie Spears has conservatorship over her. They then go back to her beginnings complete with interviews with people who knew her back then. One of the interviews that stands

Behind the scenes during the shoot for the “Lucky” music video in 2000, a moment captured by Britney Spears’ assistant and friend Felicia Culotta. (FX/TNS) TNS

out to me the most however is the interview with Kim Kaiman who used to be the senior director of marketing at “Jive Records” where Spears was signed in her youth. She mentions Lynn Spears, Britney’s mother, was very hands-on and helpful. However, she also says that the only thing Jamie ever said to her was, “My daughter’s going to be so rich she’s gonna buy me a boat.” 

The documentary then shifts to talk about how Spears became in essence a tin can for the media to kick around. The film also details how Justin Timberlake seemingly weaponized his breakup with Spears to further his own career, such as writing his hit song “Cry me a River” while also revealing that she was no longer a virgin and mocking her in the media… over and over again. And while it is worth noting, Timberlake has claimed that the relationship ended due to Spears cheating on him, number one that’s almost entirely what he said she said, and number two he took it way too far. And the media literally ran with it, to the point it wasn’t just beating a dead horse anymore – they had beat the dead horse, shocked it back to life Frankenstein style, then killed it again. 

The film also highlights how the media branded her on her being a bad parent. One instance with “everyone’s least favorite journalist”  Matt Lauer who picked and picked at her when she was a guest on “Dateline” surrounding these accusations, with Spears simply saying she wished that the paparazzi would leave her alone. Knowing what we now know about Lauer this interview has not aged well at all, whose “Today Show” broadcast career ended in 2017 when he was ousted for inappropriate sexual conduct. It can only be described as condescending questions on the part of Lauer, rather than a real interview.

The film also goes into great detail about Spears’s final snap, mentioning how many people laughed at the antics of “crazy” Britney Spears such as shaving her head and attacking a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella. However, as one realizes from watching the documentary, Spears was likely driven to this. 

One of the most impactful clips they play in the whole documentary in my opinion is simple. It was Spears who had gone into a gas station being mobbed by a literal wall of paparazzi with cameras. They also showed clips of Spears when she was spiraling also being mobbed by paparazzi, as they hounded her they had the nerve to ask her how she was doing and say they were worried about her. This literally disgusted me to my core. As a journalist, it sickens me when paparazzi go around harassing people and then call themselves journalists.  And make no mistake, they are not journalists.  They’re vultures with cameras. 

The documentary then moves to the present to talk more about Jamie Spears’ conservatorship over his daughter and this part is also interesting, considering how conservatorships are usually only done for seniors who are mentally unfit to make their own decisions. Britney’s former lawyer Adam Streisand also spoke on camera. Among other things he claims that when he went to court for Britney, the judge claimed he had a medical report that showed that Britney was unfit to choose legal counsel and yet refused to show it to Streisand which raises a whole bunch of questions I lack the time to state here.

 I’ll just note this, throughout all of this, Britney still works and writes music, so if she is mentally unfit to run her own affairs how is she fit to work and tour? It’s also worth noting that Britney’s main problem with the setup was having her father in charge as she wanted a professional. She did not get her wish, and this raises numerous questions about conflicts of interest. 

#FreeBritney activists hold signs and march near the Stanley Mosk courthouse where a conservatorship hearing for Britney Spears is being held. (FX/TNS) TNS

The documentary ends with footage of the Free Britney movement which is led by fans who seek to end Britney’s conservatorship, with such names as Rose Mcgowan calling for it to end. They also talk about how Britney won a small victory in that Jamie will no longer have absolute power over his daughter’s finances, as per a court ruling Bessemer Trust Co. will have equal power over Britney’s affairs despite the best efforts of her father. 

The documentary then ends by showing a list of people who declined to be interviewed, Jamie among them. It’s also interesting to note that the filmmakers inserted a note at the end to let viewers know they are not sure Britney got their requests for interviews.

So this documentary has touched me more than any show has in a very long time. I mean, it’s just mind-boggling and the thing is I was in elementary school – like third grade or so – when the Britney being a bad mom fiasco was going on, I still remember a fellow student coming in and ranting about it and how Britney was going to a certain place below when she died. That’s how mainstream this abuse was and now to learn most of it was based on lies it’s just unbelievable. I give this documentary 8.5 torches out of 10 I highly recommend watching it.