It was bound to come sooner or later, but maybe it took this morning’s breakfast of pasta leftovers from Monday night’s dinner and a mid-morning snack of hot cocoa (Starbucks: 100 cals per 2.5 tablespoons. I had it with warmed nonfat milk. It really needs milk with some fat in it, I discovered, as I dumped at least 7 tablespoons of chocolate into it.)
So here I am, Thursday, February 11th, 2021, around noon, sitting by Instagram, waiting to see what happens today at Britney’s hearing.
Yes, that Britney.
Framing Britney Spears
I was so surprised to learn that The New York Times actually made a documentary about her, called Framing Britney Spears, streaming on HULU. It is about a controversy brought to public attention by a group called the Free Britney Movement. This is a group of her fans who believe that her father is conservator of her estate against her will and the conservatorship should be dissolved. Her father, Jamie Spears, has been her conservator since her infamous crackup in 2007 when she walked into a barber shop and shaved her head. It’s been 13 years since then and Britney has had no control over her personal life or $$$$$$$$.
What surprised me more? The New York Times doing a doc about her or her father having complete control of her life?
The New York Times
First, I remember a fateful day 12 or 13 years ago when I sat in my kitchen stunned by what was on the front page of the NYT: an article explaining that some members of the Tea Party were college graduates. It even had a side-bar with a spotlight on grads of the Ivies who were members of the Tea Party. I think there was someone from Princeton. I found it odd that the NYT would put this article on the front page. Even though it is shocking that some Tea Party members were college grads, was it breaking news worthy of the front page? This was right when the Tea Party was trying to gain credibility.
And articles like that helped legitimize the Tea Party. We can thank media outlets like The New York Times for such greats as Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. Years later–skip to 2016–and the Times was analyzing every word that candidate Donald Trump uttered (which was only about Hilary’s email), giving Donald Trump legitimacy as a candidate. Thanks, NYT! 2016-20 was a dream!
With Framing Britney Spears is The New York Times again legitimizing a group that has no substance? Is it giving lip service to the Free Britney Movement because that will sell newspapers?
With piqued curiosity I read the reviews of Framing Britney Spears. Although critics don’t think that it’s a brilliant movie, they take the issue seriously. Believe me. The spoiler-filled reviews proved it.
But the movie seemed worth watching, so I watched it last weekend. There are many painful moments in it. The media asked Britney inappropriate, personal questions, put her under a microscope, and the paparazzi was merciless. As pointed out on a podcast I listened to, an “old man” asked her if she had a boyfriend when she performed on Star Search in the early ’90s. She was 10 years old. (That old man was Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s sidekick from his Tonight Show era.) (Interesting to get a 2021 view of that. When I was growing up, it wasn’t an uncommon joke for an old man to ask a girl if she had a boyfriend. That was in the 70’s. It wasn’t funny then; it wasn’t funny in 1992 with Britney, and it’s not funny in 2021.)
But that isn’t even the worst of what the media did to her. In the documentary, the Times interviews one of the paparazzi who hounded her; it also shows some uncomfortable footage from interviews with Diane Sawyer and with a British interviewer-from-hell.
Last summer, Britney said she did not want her father as conservator because she was afraid of him. In November there was a hearing, and the judge kept Jamie Spears as conservator, but added a bank as co-conservator.
I saw the movie on Saturday. Sunday night I woke up in the middle of the night and wondered if Britney was OK. I grabbed my phone and headed over to her Instagram account. She seemed fine. Lots of videos of herself dancing in cropped shirts. Some of her speaking in her annoying baby-toned voice. But then I googled her name and found some articles about how she is doing fine as a mom to her two sons and has a boyfriend. Reassured that she was OK, I got back to sleep.
Parents or guardians control finances of kids under 18 because they are too young to make their own decisions. The kids become adults and it would be a conservator who takes control if an adult loses the capacity to deal with his/her finances and other parts of his/her life. Conservatorship was intended to protect adults who become incapacitated, such as the elderly with Alzheimer’s. Conservatorships usually end with the death of the adult, so it is not often that the actual existence of a conservatorship is in question. That makes sense. But what happens when the adult person is a 39-year-old working mother of two? Spears didn’t stop working when the conservatorship began–she made gazillions, especially in four years when she had a “residency” in Las Vegas. But her father has been making the decisions for her for 13 years. How is she going to demonstrate that she is no longer incapable of handling her affairs–how is she going to show that she can be in control of her life when her father has been her conservator for most of her adult life?
Is it a catch-22? I’m waiting for the court to weigh in on it today.
According to the NYT, there’s a hearing about Britney’s conservatorship today, a little under a week after the documentary premiered.
Oh there’s more, so much more. I’ve read so much that I didn’t know how I was going to incorporate it all into a blog post. But I didn’t want to make a joke out of what I was doing. I don’t want to pass any judgements on Britney or her posts.
I’m taking this seriously. The New York Times has come across something worth legitimizing. There is a legitimate concern for Britney Spears, leading to a lot of questioning about the purpose and legitimacy of conservatorships. What makes a person capable or incapable of controlling his/her own finances?
Allen v. Farrow
Last week The New York Times again shocked me when it published an interview with Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, filmmakers of Allen v. Farrow, a new HBO 4-part documentary series (out 2/21) examining the accusations by Woody Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, that he abused her when she was seven years old. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It was big news when Woody Allen and Mia Farrow split up after Mia found naked pics of her older daughter (Soon-Yi Previn) in Woody’s possession. Woody and Soon-Yi Previn have since married and had kids of their own.
Over the years the accusations resurfaced. For example, when adult Dylan wrote an op ed in The New York Times and Woody wrote an op ed in response.
Why would HBO make a movie about this? Why would the NYT cover it? Apparently, the HBO series includes information that was never before public, including a recording of an interview with Dylan at the time. The article definitely leaves the impression that Woody did it, and that this series is going to prove it.
Is it with salacious interest that I will watch this documentary? Was it with salacious interest that I watched Framing Britney Spears? Am I part of the problem of media’s untrustworthiness and undue influence?
Yes and no. The films raise legit questions that will help others in similar situations. I needed to read the spoiler-laden reviews though to be able to tell that watching the movies wasn’t a cheap-ass thing to do, and that I wasn’t contributing to the media’s obsession with stardom.
Oh–just found out about the hearing today. Jamie Spears tried to get the court to boot his co-conservator, but it didn’t work.