Just for profit? Britney Spears’ constant exploitation with a barrage of new documentaries saddens fans and UM students

"Britney Spears" by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity Photographer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 Photo credit: "Britney Spears" by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity Photographer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In the last week, multiple documentaries of Britney Spears’ fight for freedom in her conservatorship have aired across different streaming services.

On Sept. 26, CNN aired “Toxic: Britney Spears’ Battle for Freedom” followed by “Controlling Britney Spears,” a surprise Hulu documentary on Sept. 27 and the highly anticipated Netflix special “Britney vs. Spears” aired on Sept. 28.

With the influx of documentaries, it’s easy to wonder what inspired them to come out now.

Spears’ conservatorship began in 2008 — at the time, it was treated like the best thing for health and wellbeing.

However, back in 2019, fans noticed that the pop singer was suddenly missing from social media and started to suspect that something was wrong. After whistleblowers from Spears’ team confirmed that the conservatorship was doing more harm than good, a podcast called “Britney’s Gram” spearheaded what is now known as the #FreeBritney movement.

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While this concern only seemed like speculation, “Framing Britney,” the Hulu special released this February, provided some clarity.

After the documentary’s release, Britney’s conservatorship faced extreme scrutiny and media attention.

Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Kacey Musgraves and more showed their support for Spears. Justin Timberlake, ex-boyfriend of Spears, even took it a step further and gave a public apology to Britney for any pain he had caused.

The Hulu special’s success has inspired many different filmmakers to chronicle the singer’s conservatorship battle.

In “Britney vs. Spears,” journalists Jenny Eliscu and filmmaker Erin Lee Car investigate the details and hidden documents of Spears’s conservatorship. The duo interviewed ex-boyfriends, employees, friends and others close to the star to uncover the truth about what occured behind closed doors.

While the documentary did have some new information, the delivery was lackluster. Judging from its promotion, it seems like it was supposed to be as impactful as “Framing Britney,” but it fell flat.

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The issue with these documentaries arises when their goal is no longer about uncovering the truth, but getting as much money out of this situation before it’s too late.

Since February, Spears has had multiple wins, including getting her own attorney and having her father removed from the conservatorship. It is not improbable to believe CNN, Hulu and Netflix are trying to capitalize on the turmoil of her situation while it’s still relevant

UM students also shared similar thoughts on the recent documentary releases.

“I really did think the first one was useful, but there are so many documentaries coming out, it just feels ingenuine at this point,” sophomore English major Kris Berg said.

“I mean if it helps then that’s great, but I don’t know how much of a difference these documentaries are making at this point,” Amelia Smith, a junior communications major, said.

What has happened to Spears has been appalling and says a lot about our justice system. However, the goal of the #FreeBritney movement was to help her out of this situation, not inspire new Netflix content.

Featured image “Britney Spears” by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity Photographer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0