All the Ways Hollywood’s Unfounded Hatred for Britney Spears Destroyed Her

Gillian Sisley

Misogyny, sexism, degrading infantilization, getting the ‘big scoop’ at all costs — Britney was an innocent who was a lamb for the slaughter in the eyes of the media.

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Screenshot from Britney Spears’ Painfully poetic song, “Lucky”

By now, many of you have likely heard of or watched the New York Times documentary, Framing Britney Spears. It’s garnered a lot of attention these last weeks, and for good reason.

Because it proves how we, the media, the consumers of media, and everyday people not only owe Britney a massive apology for how we treated her, but also played a big role in the crumbling of her life, mental health and overall spirit.

For close to a year now, the #FreeBritney movement has been growing online, and it all started with deep dives into the singer's social media accounts, netizen theorized ‘calls for help’, and putting a spotlight on the confusing and deeply troubling conservatorship that Spears remains under to this day, 13 years later.

If you’re looking for more information on the conservatorship Britney is under, how it started and the massive red flags surrounding it, I suggest reading the article below:

Britney Spears is Publicly Being Held Hostage by Her Abuser and the US Court System

Her latest loss in court will mean that despite global support through the #FreeBritney Campaign, she’s not going to…

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While the conservatorship will certainly be mentioned in the article you’re currently reading, it will not be the main focus.

No, rather we’re here to dissect and discuss the decades leading up to the conservatorship, and all the awful ways that Britney was mistreated, which allowed for her mental health and personal life to ultimately crumble around her despite her best efforts to keep everything together.

Britney Spears was a lamb for the slaughter by the media and those of us who consumed it, and here’s why:

Infantizing and sexualizing an underaged girl eventually lost its shine — so they moved to criticizing her every move instead.

There are a lot of things about the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary that are beyond disturbing.

But there was one part of the documentary near the beginning that really struck a chord with me, and frankly brought me to tears.

Anyone who knows Britney’s history and rise to stardom knows that it all started when she was a contestant on a talent TV show called “Star Search". Even back then, she had a raw talent that no one could ignore.

But when it was down to her and another contestant, a young boy, the beginning of the end presents itself quite clearly.

The host of the show, Ed McMahons, an older gentleman, leans down to Britney and asks if she has a boyfriend.

She’s 10 years old, mind you.

The confusion you see on her face immediately is heartbreaking. It’s also worth noting that Britney was raised in Louisiana, and was taught to always have that ‘Southern Charm’ and politeness and to never offend anyone.

And so, she replies with “No, boys are mean.”

The audience laughs, rather than being disturbed by the blatant sexualization of a 10-year-old little girl.

But the real kicker is when the host replies something along the lines of,

“Well, I’m not mean. Why don’t I be your boyfriend?”

Again, your heart just truly breaks at the utter confusion on her face. She doesn’t understand all of the twisted complexities of this situation, but you can tell that she is utterly uncomfortable and knows that it doesn’t feel right.

But here’s an audience laughing at the situation, and an older man awkwardly flirting with her on TV. Britney politely replies, “Well, it depends…”

Her co-contestant, a young boy, was not asked whether or not he had a girlfriend (in fact, he was asked what it was like to grow up on a farm). Of course he wasn’t asked about his relationship status.

Because the patriarchal society we live in delights and finds amusement in making women uncomfortable and theorizing about their sexuality and sex life.

Even when it comes to 10-year-old children.

A lot of people online had the same sentiment as me, and it really hits deeply,

Britney Spears truly didn’t stand a chance. Not in the world she was growing up in and the lines that media was willing to cross from the very beginning.

She was an innocent little girl who loved to sing, and she was frankly doomed from the start.

Fast forward several years later, Britney gets a record deal and comes out with her first song. Any millennials and generations who were around in the 90s will remember, “Hit Me Baby One More Time". You will likely also remember that music video, where Britney is dressed in a skimpy Catholic girl outfit with pigtail braids, and is dancing provocatively in scenes all over a school.

What many of us forget is that she was just 15-years-old when that music video was filmed.

15-years-old and already she was being framed by her record label as a sex icon, and she was still just a child. Her parents saw no issue with it, because she was bringing in good money and fame. Many accuse them of not looking after their daughter’s best interest and using her for money.

But we’ll dive a bit deeper into that topic further in this article.

Much like Princess Diana, Britney was a victim slaughtered by the media.

For any of you who aren’t familiar with the death of Princess Diana, she was essentially murdered by the paparazzi while on a high-speed chase through a tunnel in Paris, France. It was several years after her divorce from Prince Charles, and she was exiting a building with her then-boyfriend when the paparazzi spotted her.

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They then chased the car she was in with her boyfriend, bodyguard and the driver, and while racing through a tunnel a motorcycle with paparazzi on it caused the driver to swerve and crash into the tunnel. Princess Diana was shortly after pronounced dead.

It’s important to recognize that Britney Spears’ demise by the paparazzi and media happened not too long after this.

Sure, the death of Princess Diana brought up many conversations about what was ethical with the paparazzi and what laws should be put in place to protect high-profile people from being seriously harmed by the paparazzi. Unfortunately, those laws were never put in place early enough to save Britney’s life.

While they didn’t murder her physically, they certainly murdered her spirit and mental health. And we watched it all happen right before our eyes in the tabloids.

The documentary “Framing Britney Spears” shows us a variety of ways that Britney was crucified in the tabloids, from publishing pictures of her halfway through blinking and labelling her a drunk, to scaring and terrifying her enough that she was fearful of the safety of herself and her child, at which point she popped her child on her lap and tried to drive away from the paparazzi to get to safety.

Every moment of Britney Spears’ life was heavily documented and scrutinized. When she got married to Kevin Federline and had two kids, this only heightened how much she was criticized. Now, instead of slut-shaming her in the media, they were accusing her of being a horrible mother and parent.

You likely will all remember the year 2008 when Britney walked into a salon and shaved her head for all the paparazzi to see. This was the public beginning of her mental breakdown.

Other factors to recognize at this time were that she and Kevin Federline were going through a nasty divorce, and they were both fighting for sole custody of their children. Many speculate that the way media portrayed Britney played a factor in her ex getting sole custody of the kids, rather than split custody with her.

Britney’s family and personal life were falling apart, and the entire world was able to have a front-row seat to it because of the paparazzi’s obsessive and abusive documentation.

One of the lowest lows for Britney, right before the conservative ship went into play, was when shortly after shaving her head she showed up at Kevin Federline's house and rung the doorbell pleading to see her kids. Federline did not answer the door, so Britney left, and then came back. All the while, paparazzi were outside the house capturing the heartbreaking and devastating moment of a mother desperately trying to get to her children.

When the door still did not open, Britney left with her cousin who was driving and they stopped at a gas station. When her cousin went in to pay the bill for the gas, the paparazzi who had been watching at Kevin Federline's house approached Britney in the car. They describe how she had her face in her hands and was weeping.

Still, despite the clear devastation of this suffering human being, these paparazzi felt so entitled to her time and attention that they began harassing her with questions and photographs trying to get a reaction out of her.

That was the night in which the infamous photo was captured of Britney attacking the paparazzi with an umbrella. I will not entertain the further ridicule of this woman at the lowest point of her life by publishing said photo here.

Odds are, you don’t even need the reference anyways. That’s how international that photo went.

The fight was always for money — never for the well-being of a young pop star.

It was during the aftermath of the custody battle that Britney ended up signing a conservatorship agreement that had her father take over executive control of her life and finances.

It’s worth noting that conservatorships are generally granted to elderly people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s and cannot legally be trusted to make their own decisions. That said, Amanda Bynes is another example of a high-profile person working underneath a conservatorship, where she suffers from extreme mental health difficulties and her parents are in charge of making decisions for her.

But something that a conservatorship is not made for is a high-functioning woman who is making $50 million a year through a Las Vegas residency, is continuing to successfully make music and has successfully helped raised two children through co-parenting with her ex.

What’s stuck out most to me was that the two people in charge of Britney Spears’ conservatorship up until recently, her father as well as a lawyer, both called her a “high functioning conservatee". Which, in essence, expresses that she was very healthy and thriving and very capable of taking care of herself.

And yet, they keep her on a leash under this conservatorship agreement where in order to even get legal representation she has to have the consent of her conservators.

But why bother keeping her under this conservatorship? What is there to gain?

Well, that’s a great question and I’m glad you asked — remember how I mentioned above that Britney’s parents weren’t really there to look after her well-being and more so were interested in the financial gain that she could bring them through her fame?

It’s worth noting that as a conservator for Britney, her father Jamie Spears (who is absolute garbage and abusive human being Britney has admitted to being afraid of) makes 1.5% of Britney’s annual earnings in exchange for his role.

For some much needed insight, that makes him well over $130,000 a year on average.

So actually, there’s a massive financial benefit for Britney’s father to continue being her conservator. It’s all perks for him, he gets to continue controlling and abusing his daughter, and not only that but the United States legal system allows him to make money off of it!

What a fantastic way to encourage the unlawful and violating control of an abuser over his victim!

So where does this leave us today, you ask?

Well, the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary has brought massive publicity to the already existing legal case that Britney has been fighting for the last few years to have her father removed as a conservator.

She’s not even asking for the conservatorship to be fully abolished — which of course is what she wants ultimately — she’s asking for her father to be removed so that he can no longer financially benefit from controlling her every move in life and all of the finances that she has well earned.

Yes, in 2008 with the state of mental health and the breakdown that Britney was forced into by the media, a conservatorship was something that actually made sense to protect her from herself.

But today in 2021, 13 years later, Britney has more than proved that her human rights should be reinstated and she should have full autonomy over her own life.

In fact, after her Las Vegas residency, she essentially went on strike in 2019 and refused to work specifically because she didn’t want to make any additional money for her father from her own hard work and talent.

The tragedy that is the destruction of Britney Spears' life and career by Hollywood and the media is in itself a tale that we all need to learn from, especially when it comes to our responsibility as consumers of media.

As long as there is a demand for tabloids and gossip magazines and crap sources like TMZ to report misogynistic and disgusting stories, they’ll just keep creating them.

This is an opportunity for all of us to look at ourselves critically and ask,

“How can I responsibly consume media without being part of the problem that exploits and misuses women for the entertainment of the public?”

If we can even just start there, many young women in the entertainment industry moving forward can be saved from the same devastating realities that befell Britney Spears.

No human being deserves to be treated the way that Britney was for the two decades of her career so far.

And that is why, until Britney is free, we will continue to scream, “Free Britney!” and demand justice for her.

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Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about trending news, viral Reddit content, and anything else that tickles my fancy.

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