Britney Spears celebrates her 40th birthday with the joy of being responsible for her own freedom and a movement behind her (#FreeBritney) after 13 years of not having control of her own life.
In the last year, the case of the Princess of Pop sparked a lengthy debate in the United States about legal guardianships and the limits set by the law. With millions of albums sold and massive tour budgets, the artist stopped releasing new music in the midst of a legal battle with her father and legal guardian, Jamie Spears, because she lacked the ability to make her own decisions.
The Spears family trial was not only a media center for the world’s press, but it was also the subject of investigation for journalists, documentary filmmakers, and audiovisual producers. Framing Britney Spears was the first to discuss the situation that the interpreter was going through in February of this year, when she asked the US court that her father stop being her legal guardian in mid-2020 and fought in court for more than a year.
This production was followed by others with similar approaches, but which were released at the peak of Judge Brenda Penny’s final ruling at the end of last September.
Britney Spears’s Framing
This documentary, directed by Samantha Stark and produced by The New York Times, recounts Britney Spears’ success and the controversy surrounding her father’s legal guardianship since 2008. It premiered on Hulu in the United States and was available in Latin American countries via the FX signal, establishing a topic of discussion that would last several months: Britney’s freedom. It also examines the media’s machism since she rose to fame, such as the harassment of the paparazzi and the sexist treatment she received on television shows.
The Battle for Britney Spears: Money, Fans, and a Conservatorship
The BBC released a documentary in May 2021 that follows journalist Mobeen Azhar on a journey across the United States to meet Spears, from Los Angeles to her hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana. In addition to recalling the most significant events in the musical artist’s history, it delves into the controversy surrounding Jamie Spears’ legal guardianship for 13 years. It was only available on BBC platforms in the United Kingdom.
Spears vs. Britney
Parallel to the release of other documentaries in September, Britney v Spears became one of the most-watched after it was made available on the Netflix platform. Journalist Jenny Eliscu and audiovisual producer Erin Lee Carr collaborated to piece together the puzzle of the most significant events in the personal and professional life of a musical icon. Important testimonies from people who worked with Britney and Jamie were included, relying on various perspectives on legal guardianship and its effects on the singer’s personal relationships.
The second part of The New York Times investigation came just days before Britney Spears’ final hearing in her freedom trial, adding new evidence about her father’s authoritarian control over her.
More details were revealed by people close to the case, the most important of which was the statement of Alex Vlasov, a former employee of the security firm Black Box who was hired by Jamie Spears. According to him, the singer’s private communications were intercepted, including calls, text messages, notes, search history, and iCloud activity, and a large portion of these conversations included people close to the artist (friends, mother and lawyer).
On September 29, a Los Angeles court removed Jamie Spears from her daughter Britney Spears’ legal guardianship, with the promise that she would choose a professional legal guardian for a period of no more than three months. Since last November 13, the interpreter of hits like “Toxic” and “Baby One More Time” has been free, and the #FreeBritney movement has been heard outside the courthouse and on social media.