Britney Spears performs on stage in Lyon, France in 2004, on file photo: Martin Bureau / AFP via Getty

There is no shortage of terrifying moments of looking away from the screen in Framing Britney Spears, the New York Times-produced documentary that examines the pop star’s incendiary career and controversial legal guardianship in a succinct and bloody way

There’s Britney, 10 years old, and she just put out a stunning rendition of Judds’ Love Can Build a Bridge on Star Search, which host Ed McMahon asked if she had a boyfriend. There’s Britney, tanned and polished the high point of her early fame being asked at a press conference if she is a virgin (she shies away and then answers yes, then always the pleasant American sweetheart, thanks to the interviewer for asking)

There’s Britney, messy bun and sweat, shooting fast food under a barrage of camera flashes, appearing catatonic in a passenger seat under a barrage of camera flashes, and wrinkled under a barrage of camera flashes in a restaurant booth until 2007, with a shaved head and glassy eyes that are clearly having a nervous breakdown and are lit by flashes from the camera flashes

The uncomfortable quality of these images and videos is in large part due to their worldliness – an off-stage celebrity doing low-profile things; the paparazzi hordes, which were a staple in the mid-2000s at the height of the power of TMZ, tabloid, and gossip blogs; the familiarity of the entire circus that exists in America’s collective cultural memory as a time capsule, old joke, or well-meaning meme (the classic joke, “If Britney could survive 2007, you could do that”)

None of these images, none of this information about Britney’s stratospheric teenage fame, the 2008 nervous breakdown, and the legal preservation that has ruled her daily life for the 13 years since then, is new to the evidence we just don’t sit down with often – not so coherent, not so visceral

In a brisk 75-minute break, Framing Britney has been combing Britney material archived through the mountain since she was a child in the small town of Kentwood, Louisiana – shortly before the Internet, she became a highly documented star from the start, to the cascading highlights of her career: tinkering in the studio, the success of baby all over again and oops, I did it again, mass fascination with her relationship with NSYNC boybander Justin Timberlake, marriage to backup dancer Kevin Federline, mass fascination with her fitness as a mother, breakdown

Much of the film is devoted to explaining the legal concept of conservatism – a court-appointed guardianship usually intended for the elderly or the infirm – and the subtle (or not-so-subtle with a few first-person interviews) Arguments against the arrangement, which, according to the film, makes Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, a largely absent figure in her life until the money comes down, and in control of a 39-year-old pop star who is still making millions

Adam Streisand, a Los Angeles-based attorney who specializes in preservation agreements, recalls in the film a meeting with Spears at the Beverly Hills Hotel immediately after her involuntary psychiatric stay in January 2008 – an incident related to this one Time was heavily documented by paparazzi – in which the singer allegedly accepted the conservatory on the condition that the conservator was not her father

The court then banned Streisand from representing Spears due to the inability to find an attorney based on a sealed medical report and instead appointed attorney Samuel D Ingham III to represent her By 2016, Ingham had 2 million USD (EUR 1) raised 6 million) in fees from the estate of Spears

Still, this information is not new (Streisand’s memory is included in the New York Times in-depth investigation of the Thorny Conservatory in 2016) However, the film contains several compelling interviews – notably with former travel companion and assistant Felicia Culotta and Kevin Tancharoen, the 1999-2004 backup dancer and tour director, both of whom affirm Britney’s command as the artist and driver of their own careers – there is no attendance from Britney, her family, or anyone in her inner circle

However, her brother Bryan Spears provided a rare glimpse into family dynamics on the podcast as it was NOT seen on TV in July 2020 “She always wanted out. It must be frustrating when someone keeps telling you to do something. She’s wanted out for a while.” He also said that the Spears women ‘s strength “sucks”

The effect of synthesis – a bottomless source of evidence distilled and arranged in one place, with poignant comments from the Times cultural critics – is illuminating nonetheless

Given the nostalgic affection for Britney, it may not come as a surprise that the film sparked an outpouring of horror and humility, some celebs in the #FreeBritney movement, and some damned reflection on our past fascination with Britney’s ancestry or Justin Timberlake’s general Immunity to kickback to seize and exacerbate attention at the expense of women who supported him (Britney, Janet Jackson; see: He reiterates a radio host’s question about whether he fucked Britney Spears, an unjustifiable cover of the detail Magazine dated December 2002) that reads, “Can we ever forgive Justin Timberlake for all this sissy music? Hey At least he got in Britney’s pants “)

The film is another notch in a series of slow, widening reflections on American celebrity culture, particularly the female tabloids of the ’90s and’ 90s, powered by the larger #MeToo retelling of sex, power and the spectrums of trauma women face, in part due to the simple passage of time

From films like Oscar-winning OJ: Made in America to Lorena Bobbitt, such a revision relies less on new information than on just looking at the existing record closely enough

Asif Kapadia’s delicate, harrowing documentary Amy has compiled audio recordings and home videos to capture the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse, who has fallen victim to a similar and simultaneous frenzy of paparazzi sharks, a lucrative tabloid, and public derision of musical talent remained appreciated

Spears carried the added burden of embodying America’s psychotic contradictions when it comes to sex for young women – dress sexy but be virgin, convey that you want it, but never, God forbid, you know what You want, let alone get it; Get as close to the actual gender line as you can, but never cross it

She became famous in an era, as Times critic Wesley Morris astutely points out in the film, when Bill Clinton’s scandalous affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky – another great tabloid story, whose heroes and villains with the Revised Timeline and #MeToo – brought the lewd discussion of sex and the specter of sex panic back to the public (and tasteless Jay Leno jokes)

Memory is a fuzzy, gossamer thing.You can remember, intellectually and in tabloid snippets, the frenzy surrounding Spears in the mid to late Aughts, but not remember the annoying austerity of her images – a woman drawn by men Angeles is chased and literally pursued, the haunted dizziness inducing funhouse by camera flashes

The Spears collapse was mundane enough to deserve a category – what did Britney Spears lose this year? – on the Family Feud game show (Answers included her wits, children, and dignity) This detail probably wasn’t memorable enough in 2008; it is now unforgettably raw

Ultimately, the film offers little resolution because there is none: Britney, the person, remains unrecognizable no matter how passionately #FreeBritney supporters scan their Instagram captions or “connect the dots” to borrow a language that becomes uncomfortable conspiratorial to get clues about her mental state or personal opinions, or to see what would happen at another hearing about her legal status on Jan. February happens

What is clear is our continued fixation on them, our collective guilt for the passing interest, the misogynist, cruel cultural mores – whether for sex or mental health – which, in retrospect, become apparent too late

In 2008, Jamie Spears allowed MTV documentary cameras to film Britney, who offered one of her few public takes on the arrangement, “If I weren’t under the restrictions, I’d be right now, with all the lawyers and doctors and the ones.” People who analyze me every day and all that stuff – if it wasn’t there I would feel so liberated and feel like myself, ”she said

Much of the discussion about Britney’s framing will depend on the controversy over her guardianship, the growing #FreeBritney movement. But there’s a second point in typical Britney “all that stuff” that also needs attention – an indictment against us all who sit in sight – guards

Framing Britney Spears is now available on Hulu and FX in the US An Irish release date has not yet been announced

Framing Britney Spears

World News – CA – Framing Britney Spears: How Pop Culture Missed Its Biggest Star