Will the Britney Spears shot be a payback for the stellar media?
Everyone says all this about me. Why won’t they just let me live?
This is how Britney Spears sang on her 2004 single My Prerogative. More than 15 years later, in the week the new documentary Britney Spears’ Framing was shown in the US, those words are echoed again.
The New York Times film draws press attention to the singer’s treatment prior to her public breakdown in 2007 and to the ongoing dispute over her custody. This means that she has no control over many aspects of her life and career.
The documentary sparked renewed criticism of her treatment in the bubble of millennial celebrity culture, as well as some speculation in the media. We are all to blame for what happened to Britney Spears, read on Instagram on Tuesday Glamor magazine in front of the pop star.
Blogger Perez Hilton also said he regrets his behavior.
In his podcast this week, he said: My words and actions were wrong. I was nasty, mean, cruel, inattentive, terrible. I apologized to Britney not only publicly but personally.
Given these calculations, treating Spears by the entertainment media machine seems antiquated in today’s environment, but has the celebrity experience really changed?
It is unlikely that celebrities are faced with invasion and loss of privacy at their peak. But for Britney, a young woman who, since her teens, has worn a fictional image of the sexualized innocence of the girl next door, the spotlights seemed particularly bright.
We can see Britney in a long line of women artists, from Marilyn Monroe to Whitney Houston to Amy Winehouse, who were judged not so much for the work they create as for how they were presented in the press, says Lucy Robinson, cultural historian at University of Sussex.
Nowhere was this clearer than during Britney’s 2003 television interview with American journalist Diane Sawyer. It is like a laboratory experiment with the insulating power of ruthless fame, the TV host told television viewers. Remember, no dating practice is allowed in high school or college, and there is no anonymity for trial and error and awkward decisions.
Despite this obvious insight, the tone of her interrogation, which was insistent and accusatory of its focus on Britney’s relationships and sex life, left the then 21-year-old in tears. At one point, Sawyer suggested that the singer had disappointed many moms in this country.
The interview also pointed to another speculation about pressure on Britney’s privacy.As an exemplary teen to follow, she vowed to be celibate until she was married, but made headlines when she confessed that she broke that promise with pop star’s boyfriend Justin Timberlake.
When the couple broke up, Timberlake sparked rumors of Britney’s betrayal by including a deceptive doppelganger in his Cry Me a River video.
Sawyer, in an interview, pointedly questioned her morality on both counts, leading Britney to emotionally.
Britney’s obsession with virginity absolutely underscores the double sexual standards between men and women, Robinson said, but more than that, it highlights how institutional sexual exploitation and the objectification of young girls are at the core of the media and the pop industry.
In this context, there is no room for young women to own their own sexuality or explore it with free will. Instead, they take responsibility for being sexualized by adult men both in the industry and in the audience.
Timberlake spoke freely about deprivation of virginity in radio interviews when he began his solo career. After leaving Britney, he is known to have groped Kylie Minogue on stage at the 2003 Brit Awards, nicknamed Justin Bruzznake, and was involved in Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl.
Lack of empathy
Meanwhile, intense speculation over Britney’s private life continued as her marriage to dancer Kevin Federline the father of her two children fell apart.
In 2007, a public breakdown ensued when Britney shaved her head in front of cameras, acted erratically, and was eventually rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and divided into sections after being deemed dangerous to herself and others. Her father Jamie Spears has been her guardian or legal guardian since 2008 due to concerns about her mental health.