I’ve followed the singer’s ups and downs since her first hit when she was 16, and now a new documentary has highlighted how harshly she was treated

When I first interviewed Britney Spears she was 16 years old: an instant overnight superstar from her just-deleted single Sweetheart, again that was 1998, so I asked her about the other biggest story of the day – the affair between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, White House intern

“I just think the president is a very decent man,” she began in her sweet expression, “and it’s really not fair what all these people are saying about him and this girl -”

That was roughly when Britney’s handler, a dark haired southern lady who was sitting in the room with us, broke off, “Maybe you should stick to funny topics?”

I saw the Handler again this week. She is a key interviewee in the US documentary, Framing Britney, due to be released in the UK this spring. It is a film that is decidedly about “funny subjects” It turns out that she was actually Britney’s nanny (official title: Assistant), a trusted family friend hired by the star’s mother to travel with her daughter after her first recording deal – one of the many seemingly decent people who followed in the years torn from Spears life

I interviewed her a second time two years later. By then, she was at the very top of her fame. The PRs (there were layers of it by then) warned me, “NO tits, NO virginity”I shouldn’t be asking if the boob job rumors were true, or if she and her ex-boyfriend, singer Justin Timberlake, actually had sex despite the intention of” saving “herself for the marriage I spent the interview in Panic as “tits and virginity” were the only questions my editor (or any other editor) – and this was at Globe and Mail, Canada’s filing paper – wanted answered. I wasn’t much older than Spears himself, and like her, felt the need to do a good job for the “adults”

The documentary sparked a backlash against the way Spears has been treated in the past, and Timberlake publicly apologized last week for his comments on Spears after their split in 2002

Stardom was not long followed by marriage, children, divorce, remarriage, divorce, a custody case that resulted in the loss of their children, and a dramatic, protracted public collapse that resulted in their forcible incarceration in a mental hospital, as the people spoke not much back then about “mental health” – less clinical terms like “train wreck” and worse were preferred. Like most people, I lost interest in the Spears saga in the late 1990s, but the story of its final years is more terrifying than that in many ways Story that preceded her

Twelve years ago, the star’s father, Jamie, by then a distant figure in her life, collapsed and received legal “preservation” of his daughter’s life and career, meaning the court gave him full control over everyone Decisions that affect their finances, as well as all decisions related to their physical and mental health, the Conservatory is usually only granted to relatives of the severely mentally ill, comatose, or fragile elderly, although Spears has worked continuously for over a decade (including a sell-out in Las Vegas), she is now under her father’s legal control – despite an ongoing struggle to regain control over her life and wealth. The LA courts have been besieged by fans demanding her release as part of the #FreeBritney movement p>

The legal history of Spears begs for faith, but I am still intrigued by that first mega-hit single, the artifact that made her but also prophetically foretell her death

So much has changed today. Pop culture is no longer called a coherent concept – it’s too diffuse, fragmented It’s easy to forget the power a single catchy pop song with a sophisticated video could have in the pre-internet era. p>

What made Spears famous wasn’t her act, but her apparent authenticity – a trait almost unheard of in the boy band suffocation era in the late 1990s, in the Baby One More Time video, she did not act That was the trick. She was a virginal, bored, and sexually curious small town schoolgirl from Kentwood, Louisiana. She wasn’t childlike, she was a real child. She was who she pretended to be

Until, of course, she wasn’t. At this point, Spears was stripped of flesh and blood (“objectified” doesn’t even begin to cover it). She became a human punchline, the answer to a thousand terrible trivia questions – and a heroine When it comes to suffering from small town high school outcasts everywhere, a YouTube clip of a sobbing southern gay teenager begging the world to “leave Britney alone!” became one of the first viral videos on the internet, but she was not left alone because too many saw her as “great material” even at its lowest ebb, as a money-maker Long after the Lewinsky jokes were thin, chat show hosts like Jay Leno were still working on the spectacle of their suffering

The same trait that made her famous – her reality, her inability to mask her true self – may also be what devoured her. With luck, she will finally break free and we can all look away

Britney Spears

World news – FI – Britney Spears: Will the princess of pop finally find freedom?

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/feb/13/britney-spears-will-the-princess-of-pop-finally-find-freedom