When Britney Spears’ …Baby, One More Time album was released in the winter of 1999, she was not even 18. At 17, she was a kid, but almost immediately, the oversexualization of her was evident. The photo of her looking up innocent with a denim skirt with a lot of skin showing on her legs look very suggestive. Almost immediately, jokes spread about men twice her age or even thrice talking about how they’d like “to be the first.”
My editor at my college newspaper said she looked cute, but that was on the far nicest spectrum of things I heard said about her from other women. Almost immediately, she was hated by women of all ages. She was either too fake, too cutesy, too over-sexualized or not a good role model.
Remember, she was still only a kid at 21 when Diane Sawyer treated her so badly. Michael Moore shamelessly used raw footage of her chewing gum in Fahrenheit 9/11 as she gives a sound bite saying she likes President George W. Bush. She was still a kid. Why should we care what a pop singer at 22 or 23 cares about world politics? What happened to “Shut Up and Sing?” Now, it was colder because she wasn’t allowed to have her own political beliefs since they didn’t align with Moore’s. And she had probably only voted in what one, maybe two elections by that time?
Britney became a joke. Paparazzi photographers hounded her, using the law to their advantage to take as many pictures of her. Fans mobbed her, wanting to cop a feel or grab her hair. This poor young woman was treated so badly, that if it was your own sister, daughter, or niece being treated this way, you’d get a little aggressive with these people.
She married two men within the same year. The first one was Jason Allen Alexander in what some think was more of a joke. But it’s obvious, she was still hurting from the break-up of Justin Timberlake, who had gone on TV and more or less hinted that he had “deflowered” her. She was wanting a boyfriend and a partner to love. He was wanting a booty call. I have lost a lot of respect for Timberlake over the years but lately, when you look at all he did, I think he was the tipping point. Taylor Swift and Adele get support for their songs about their break-ups, but all Britney got was hatred and grief.
It’s one thing to have people hook you up on a date that doesn’t go right. It’s another for everyone to want you date but young love isn’t always happily ever after. Britney was blamed for the breakup as Justin mocked her in a song and went laughing to the bank. It was a different era when young male celebrities could still fuck all the women they wanted and even get a little aggressive. And women between 8 and 88 had a crush on Justin, even when his hairstyle looked like ramen noodles. So, he’s fucks and runs.
Unfortunately, for Britney, her parents, Jamie and Lynne divorced in 2002. This didn’t help matters as things went south went bad with Justin. She need someone to be there for him and he wasn’t ready for it. Look at his dating history, for Christ’s sake. This man was obviously more concerned about getting laid and sexual conquest than he was being in a meaningful relationship. Hey, I’m not sorry for saying it, but the man should’ve kept some things private rather than dragging her through the mud and more or less calling her a slut or tramp in so many subtle ways.
So, Britney dates and marries Kevin Federline, which probably had a lot of people scratching their heads. And their marriage was just as short-lived as they were divorced in 2007. And worst, people were mocking Britney everywhere. When she shaved her head, Jack Nicholson shows up at the Oscars with a shaved head with some people thinking it was a direct stab. And Jack, himself, was no Eagle Scout when it comes to relationships.
The poor woman was having a mental breakdown before our eyes and all we did was laugh at her, call her “spoiled rotten” and demean her for her actions. Even when Chris Crocker, now Chris Cunningham, released his “Leave Britney Alone!” video rant on YouTube, he became a joke and it hurt Britney’s stance more than it helped. The people who understood Chris weren’t given the attention the people who openly mocked him were.
And then the conservatorship happened and it seemed like things were going to calm down and they did. Yet, for some reason, it lasted too damn long. Conservatorships are usually for people who can’t make even simple financial and business decisions. But for some reason, Britney was performing in Las Vegas and even co-hosting The Voice. She seemed back to normal or as normal as she could be, so what was the problem?
As Gordon Gekko said, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” Putting Jamie in charge of his daughter’s conservatorship might have seen practical at first, but after many years of Britney in the public eye, why did he stay? It became apparent over the last few years that Britney was obviously in a situation she couldn’t get out of. I think the MeToo movement helped shed light on women who had been victimized, not just by sexual predators but by control freaks.
The behavior of Jamie Lynn, her sister, was also questionable, as she seemed to relish in her sister’s fortune, even going as far as claiming Britney’s beach house in Fort Walton, Fla., was her own. Jamie Lynn would preform her sister’s music. And like that, the women turned their attention from hating Britney to Jamie Lynn and for good reason. When the Golden Goose is laying the eggs, why not take as many bites as you can?
I think the Covid-19 pandemic and more free time to look at social media benefited her as people became aware of the Free Britney movements and how her Instagram posts seemed odd. Her behavior didn’t seem right. Regardless, something had to be done.
In the past year, it’s exploded with documentaries exposing what we weren’t told (or didn’t pay attention to). Even though he hasn’t been hosting The Late Late Show for years, a monologue clip in which Craig Ferguson even criticizes his own audience for making fun of Britney went viral. Ferguson said what any rational and logical human being would’ve have said. Britney is still just a kid. And for a young woman who was raised in the entertainment industry and thrown into the spotlight in her formative years, she had been treated badly.
Mental health is now taken more seriously. Toxic relationships (especially those involving family members) are taken more seriously. And everything was apparent and obvious in Britney’s life for 13 years. She’s 39 and will turn 40 next month. For a third of her life, she has been in a very abusive, toxic relationship.
If they say, life begins at 40, I sure hope it works out best for her. She’s engaged to Sam Asghari and while some, including me, have reservations, I hope they’re all for naught. Britney needs to get on with her life without her family, her entourage, her naysayers and those in the media criticizing every step she makes.
Who cares if she isn’t a good role model? Hopefully, other people going through what she has will step forward to show that she isn’t alone. At the very least we owe her an apology, at the most, we owe her support in whatever she does from now on.
I wish her the best.