On Tuesday, Netflix released a teaser trailer for an upcoming documentary called Britney vs Spears, which promises an in-depth look at Britney Spears’ battle to get out of the conservatorship she’s been under since 2008.
The documentary is being directed by Erin Lee Carr, and Netflix plans to release the full trailer for Britney vs Spears on Wednesday.
The 18-second Netflix teaser is just an audio clip from a voicemail that Britney Spears left a lawyer in early 2009, in which she says:
“Hi, my name is Britney Spears. I called you earlier. I’m calling again because I just wanted to make sure that during the process of eliminating the conservatorship...”
The implication of the clip is that Spears has been actively trying to get out of this conservatorship since barely a year after it was first established in 2008—and that this legal battle over her agency and personhood has been going on in private for far longer than anyone knew.
After this long and arduous battle for her autonomy, it appears that Spears’ conservatorship will finally be ending, hopefully allowing her the agency and control over her life that she’s been fighting over for more than a decade. Although there have been several documentaries on Spears’ conservatorship released over the past year, it feels especially slimy for Netflix to release theirs after the bulk of the conservatorship battle is already over—particularly during a moment where mainstream media and the entertainment industry are reassessing their treatment of young women whose fame led them to be hyper-scrutinized and criticized.
While it’s always possible that the Netflix documentary has been created with the consent and approval of Britney Spears herself, that seems unlikely. Although it could be argued that the media’s coverage of the #FreeBritney movement and past documentaries helped to raise awareness about the exploitative nature of the pop star’s conservatorship and her father’s use of it to financially control her, it is no longer possible to act as though further public fixation on Spears’s conservatorship battle is being done to help her. It’s clear that the real motivation of documentaries like Netflix’s is to capitalize on the news cycle around Spears’s conservatorship, effectively replicating the very same dynamics they claim to be criticizing.
Spears actually called out this hypocrisy disguised as concern herself in a May 2021 Instagram caption:
2021 is definitely way better than 2020 but I never knew it was gonna be like THIS 😳😳😳 !!!! So many documentaries about me this year with other people’s takes on my life ... what can I say … I’m deeply flattered !!!! These documentaries are so hypocritical … they criticize the media and then do the same thing 🤔🤔🤔?????
Just last week Spears temporarily deleted her social media profiles in order to celebrate her engagement—a step that she and her long-time boyfriend Sam Asghari were unable to take for years because of the conservatorship that dictated every part of her life.
The next step in letting Britney be free? Finally allowing her to have some fucking privacy.
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