Framing Britney Spears: Explosive documentary to air in Australia

A confronting documentary detailing the legal framework used to control the finances and everyday life of Britney Spears is finally airing in Australia. Framing Britney Spears charts the intense public scrutiny the young star faced as she rose to fame, and charts her public breakdown in 2007.
Aussie fans have reacted with outrage, saying they’ve been left “bloody raging”.
“I’m so angry for Britney and the standard we all walked past in the 90s and 2000s,” Erin Watson-Lynn, Director of Asialink Diplomacy at the University of Melbourne tweeted.
“Abused, mistreated, violated, stalked, slandered. I am sorry #FreeBritney #FramingBritneySpears,” another fan said in a tweet.
Journalist Cara Waters called archival footage of confronting interviews between Spears and journalists “so revolting”.
“Watching the #FreeBritney documentary and wow some of the male interviewers’ questioning of her as a young teenager is so revolting,” Waters tweeted.
As Spears struggled through personal issues and battled for custody of her children with ex husband Kevin Federline, she was swiftly placed under the legal guardianship of her father, Jamie Spears in 2008. The arrangement, called a conservatorship, is usually reserved for the elderly, or severely disabled.
In recent years, as Spears retreated from public life, the conservatorship has come under scrutiny from fans, who launched the #FreeBritney campaign.
The campaign gathered attention from the wider public, and the new documentary places scrutiny on the conservatorship arrangement, which has seen Spears’ father control her vast fortune for 13 years.
Framing Britney Spears is screening at 9pm AEDT on Channel 9 on Tuesday. The documentary was released on February 5 in the US, but Australian viewers will have struggled to have watched it until now.
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Jamie, 68, is depicted in the film as being distant during Spears’ younger years. Former contacts of the pop star allege he struggled with alcohol and employment.
Kim Kaiman, the former marketing executive of Jive Records, who helped Spears develop her image after she was signed as a young recording artist, claims Jamie saw his daughter as a meal ticket.
“The only thing Jamie ever said to me was ‘My daughter’s gonna be so rich, she’s gonna buy me a boat’,” Kaiman says in the film.
Spears’ lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III said in a court appearance in 2020 she is “afraid” of her father.
“She will not perform as long as her father is in charge of her career,” he said.
Jamie’s control over Spears’ finances and personal life is unusual — a conservatorship is usually reserved for individuals who are elderly, or severely incapacitated, and are at risk of having their finances compromised.
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Framing Britney Spears also casts a new light on the media treatment of Britney as she released her debut hit … Baby One More Time and became an almost instant global phenomenon.
The former Mickey Mouse club member is shown being questioned about her image by the media, including in an exchange with Australian journalist Mike Munro.
“To many, you are a contradiction. On the one hand you’re a sweet, innocent virginal type. On the other hand you’re a sexy vamp in underwear,” Munro told Spears in a 2001 interview for A Current Affair.
She looked embarrassed and laughed at the question.
“I wouldn’t say ‘in underwear’. On the cover of Rolling Stone, that was the only time. But not when I perform, no,” she replied.
Journalist Diane Sawyer is also shown grilling Spears after her break-up with Justin Timberlake. She accuses the pop star of “upsetting a lot of mothers in this country.”
The film also alleges Spears’ former boyfriend used his break-up with her to benefit his own career.
Timberlake issued a lengthy apology after the documentary aired in the US, saying “I know I failed”.
“I have seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond. I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right,” he said.
He also apologised to Janet Jackson in the statement, adding “I care for and respect these women and I know I failed”.