(Image source from: pintrest.com)
Ever since she was a teenager, Britney Spears has always been in an intense spotlight. After 15 years of fame, last week, a documentary aired throughout the United States that showed how the entertainment industry is framing Britney Spears for things she hasn’t even done or wanted to do.
Everyone remember the popular 2007 public breakdown the pop icon had after breaking up with her former boyfriend who is also a member of the popular boy band N-sync and is now pursuing a solo career by himself, Justin Timberlake. The New York times took some time to really capture her life and how the singer was treated by the press during this breakdown period. Once this document aired, it showed the world how celebrities handle criticism and the dark side of celebrity culture in the 00s.
The documentary also showed how Britney Spears life was manipulated by the media and aired things about her that she wanted to keep private. In short, they traumatized her since her teenage years by adding yellow journalism (creating fake stories for more views) from her life. Because of this she suffered with mental illnesses
Media sources, outlets and magazines have been publicly apologizing to the actress via social media and promoting the #FreeBritney movement.
Blogger Perez Hilton who is known for publicly creating false statements about celebrities also apologized for his behaviour towards Britney Spears. Artists around the world have been constantly criticizing the blogger for making racist comments, promoting sexism and much more.
Although Britney Spears is a well known example of how the entertainment industry exploits artists, is she the only one? And has the industry changed now?
It is unfair to see celebrities face this loss of privacy and exploitation at any age or stage of their career. Many teenager girls are projected as a sexual innocent next door image which is more toxic than you think. Some artists who have been exploited this way include Whitney Houston, Marilyn Monroe and Amy Winehouse.
In 2002, Britney broke up with her long time boyfriend Justin Timberlake. After the split, Justin released a song called Cry me A river, which sparked cheating rumors about Britney cheating on him. This not only shows how artists are manipulated by also ow there is a sexual double standard between men and women.
Justin Timeberlake has been exploiting women since his solo career. Apart from framing Britney Spears, he also groped Kylie Minogue’s bottom on stage at the 2003 Brit Awards without her consent and was considered a “hero”. Another incident involved the infamous Janet Jackson incident at the 2004 Super Bowl which was ruled out as a wardrobe malfunction.
Apart from the intense limelight, Britney continued a private life where she married her backup dancer Kevin Federline and had two children. The marriage failed however.
In 2007, after her public breakdown, her father Jamie Spears became her legal guardian and manager. However, he did not stop at exploiting her in the media. He sold her hair on the popular buying website ebay, pressured her to stay in the limelight and forced her to accept all judgment against her.
Recently, fans have been speculating that something is wrong with the artist, due to some clues she had been leaving in videos on Instagram and her strange behaviour.
In today’s music industry era, women have become strong to stand up for themselves. Taylor Swift stood against her manager Scooter Braun who is also manager to famous artists including Tori Kelly, Ariana Grande and Justin Beiber.
Artists have been quitting music to take a break for the sake of their mental health. In 2020, Jesy Nelson from the girl group Little Mix, quit the group for the sake of her mental as she could not longer tolerate the media’s manipulation of individuals.
After the documentary aired, Britney Spears took to Twitter to say that the public will never know how the life of a person is behind the lens and that fans must realize that.
The hashtag #FreeBritney is currently trending on social media, to free Britney of any manipulation and of all the harassment she had faced throughout the years. Even her former boyfriend Justin Timberlake also took to Twitter to apologize to both Britney and Janet for the damage he had caused them. However, fans from around the world and even his own fans are not buying the apology as according to a widespread opinion, it is too late.
Even today, women are exploited in the media by men both sexually and manipulated to follow the superiors orders for success and fame. But as times are changing, people are becoming more aware, accepting and empowering.
By Meena Atmakuri