Framing Britney Spears

I found the first half of this film more interesting than the second half.

The revisiting of the treatment Britney Spears received from the media and people close to her was fascinating and horrible. Fascinating in the sense that it shows how capricious and ridiculous fame can be. Horrible in that just 20 years ago parts of the world were totally blind to the misogyny and entrenched patriarchy that shaped everything.

I suppose the good news is that more folks are at least aware of the problems now. That’s the first step toward dealing with them. But man is it hard to watch what Spears endured. The leering (Ed McMahon came close to hitting on her when she was a child contestant on “Star Search” and it just got worse from there), the shaming, the brazen way she was treated–and is still treated–as a profit center rather than a human being. It’s all so ugly.

The second half of the film goes into the specifics of the conservatorship Spears has been under since 2008 and the associated rise of the “Free Britney” movement. While interesting, this part focuses on an in-progress issue that doesn’t yet have the benefit of historical context.

Michael Moore was ahead of the curve: There’s a circa-2008 clip from CNN in this film that shows Anderson Cooper doing a hand-off to Larry King. They’re talking about Spears’ troubles, and Michael Moore, who was standing by for an interview with King, cuts them off. “Just leave her alone,” he said. He was right. Fame shouldn’t require a forfeiture of privacy and respect.