“Britney vs Spears” Elicits Emotions
The Netflix documentary stirs up fears and angst within us
“Britney vs Spears” started as an idea by filmmaker Erin Lee Carr paying homage to one of the most popular singers of this century.
During the last few years, however, the world started questioning the conservatorship which had stripped Britney of her rights.
This seemingly propelled filmmakers to produce documentaries that lined up with the latest court hearings about the conservatorship. Erin Lee Carr and journalist Jenny Eliscu secured “Britney vs Spears” for a Netflix release.
For more than a decade of Britney’s life, she was prisoner to three institutions that have historically been enemies of women: the patriarchy, religion and the legal system.
As women struggle for equality, there has been resistance by those who do not want change. This includes the use of language. The term The Patriarchy has been ridiculed by some who have tried to turn it into a feminist boogeyman.
However, patriarchy is simply a system of society or government in which the men hold the primary power and dominate roles. Sometimes this literally refers to the father or eldest male of the family as the person in charge.
For Britney’s conservatorship, it is her father who maintained control rather than an independent person not related to Britney.
By definition, the conservatorship reinforced a patriarchal system giving the rights of a woman to her father.
While referencing the conservatorship and discussing the struggles of Britney doing a tour, Eliscu says, “She gets an allowance, she got ‘privileges,’ and her daddy is in charge.”
Carr responds, “That’s the patriarchy.”
Though religion was not a main focus of the documentary, a preemptive legal letter spoke volumes.
Louise Taylor had become a known presence in Jamie Spears’ life before the conservatorship, and she maintained a presence as she made business decisions.
Taylor’s husband, Rob Taylor, is a pastor at Calvary Chapel. This Christian association was ever-present through Louise Taylor, including the 2017 baptism of Jamie Spears at the Jordan River.
I wonder if Britney was thanked for her hard work so that her controlling father could take a trip to another country and be dipped in water by two other people benefitting from the conservatorship.
Louise Taylor worked in conjunction with her business, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group (Tri Star). It is this business which sent a legal letter to Carr via Taylor’s attorney, Charles Harder.
Evidence showing a direct link between Louise Taylor/Tri Star and the conservatorship may be murky, but there also seems to be a lack of evidence that Louise Taylor tried to help Britney regain her rights.
The Legal System
As a person goes through a divorce and battles for custody of their kids, a conservatorship is suddenly created.
This scenario is rather scary. And yet, society may be able to rationalize such a situation if there was imminent danger to the parties involved and the person in question did not seem in control of their own decision-making resulting in detrimental situations.
However, it would seem logical that such a process would be set in place so that the person in the conservatorship would receive the necessary treatment to regain their autonomy and agency within a timely manner.
Also, it would seem logical to use this “civil death” as a last resort after trying other alternatives.
This wasn’t the case for Britney.
It is scary enough to think about this happening to “other” people whose mental state has diminished, whether temporarily or permanently.
But to have a person work tirelessly as they worry about seeing their kids again? A person who makes millions of dollars each year and supports their entire family and those connected to the conservatorship? And then make a father who seems disinterested in his daughter’s artistry, health or rights as the conservator? Only Hollywood seems capable to devise a story so cruel.
And before we leave this story, it should be noted that this conservatorship was a “successful” business model for over a decade. With this legal precedent, who will be next to have their rights taken away and forced into indentured servitude with the threat of never seeing their children?
Or perhaps Britney’s tale will provide the necessary spotlight on a legal system which so easily dismisses women and manipulates mothers into nearly impossible situations.
Britney’s life has been a glimpse into history’s sins against women. Unfortunately, we keep committing them.
This documentary elicited a strong reaction resulting in my needing a week to write this.
I recommend “Britney vs Spears” for everyone who is interested in Britney, women’s rights, parents’ rights, the patriarchy, religious influences and the failures of the legal system.