<div class="paragraphs"><p>Netflix documentary&nbsp;<em>Britney vs Spears.</em></p></div>

‘Britney vs Spears’ Is an Unnecessary, Insensitive Addition to the Roster

The Netflix documentary premiered a day before the hearing which has now suspended James Spears as the conservator.

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‘Britney vs Spears’ Is an Unnecessary, Insensitive Addition to the Roster

On Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny suspended James P Spears, father of Britney Spears, as the conservator of her $60 million estate. The 13-year-long conservatorship looming over every aspect of the singer's life concluded with a sight of fans and supporters—crying and kneeling—celebrating the emancipation from what has been a long, sinister battle endured by America's sweetheart.

After having watched the most recent documentary about Spears—Netflix’s Britney vs Spears—the verdict comes as an aid to breathe easy, while also conveniently being utilised as the perfect ending to the documentary. What started as a project two years ago by filmmaker Erin Lee Carr to explore “Britney’s artistry and her media portrayal” quickly got lost into becoming an explosive account into the conservatorship. It claims to offer a "confidential report" leaked by a source close to the conservatorship, describing Spears’ unfortunate plight as an “epic fail of the legal system.”

<div class="paragraphs"><p>James Spears was the conservator of Britney Spears since 2008.&nbsp;</p></div>

James Spears was the conservator of Britney Spears since 2008. 

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The 93-minute documentary takes an appallingly long time to get to what it promises, only to disappoint.

After New York Times produced Framing Britney Spears, with a follow-up released only the previous week, and the singer’s testimony at a conservatorship hearing in July, Britney vs Spears is only a hastily produced film to meet a strategically fitting deadline of a day before the hearing to end the conservatorship.


For a documentary presented to be in the best interest of its subject, it sure lacks sensitivity and nuance. It takes the long road to reach the details and investigation of the conservatorship, spending a lot of time on her formative years, her glorious rise to fame, her relationships, marriage, and divorce. We see an unflattering overload of paparazzi footage taking us through her failed relationships, breakdowns, losing child custody and eventually any control over her life. While trying to make a commentary on the tabloid culture, it unknowingly becomes a part of it, lacking any perspective. Spears has recurrently expressed that she is uncomfortable and embarrassed by her portrayal in these documentaries, also calling one of the many hypocritical.

Director Carr collaborates with journalist Jenny Eliscu, who had previously profiled Spears for Rolling Stone, to provide a dramatised probe. However, more often not, the two seem to become larger than their subject. We are taken through their laptop screens with them sifting through confidential reports and images, making it more about the quest of their filmmaking rather than Spears herself.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>filmmaker Erin Lee Carr and&nbsp;journalist Jenny Eliscu.</p></div>

filmmaker Erin Lee Carr and journalist Jenny Eliscu.

(Photo Courtesy: Netflix)

Britney vs Spears attempts to feature interviews of a few names that were absent from the previous ones, including Framing Britney. These include former manager Sam Lutfi, and paparazzi photographer turned boyfriend Adnan Ghalib. These are individuals that have been accused of controversial and notorious actions in the past 13 years of the conservatorship. Giving ample screen time to them only comes as an opportunity to redeem themselves. We are also shown screenshots of a private conversation between Ghalib and Spears, which was provided to the filmmakers by Ghalib himself.

In another instance, a voice message where Britney is confiding in her lawyer her fear of losing child custody is played out. It just doesn’t sit well.

Britney vs Spears could have been an effective inquiry into the conditions and prejudices of the industry that aided in what happened to a successful, and charming artist, and for so long. The transfer of her agency—physical, financial, and emotional—in the hands of a few men, leading to scavenging and ghastly mistreatment remained under-explored. It does however succeed in exemplifying the limitations of the legal system that further shackles the conservatee.

Britney vs Spears is not an example of path-breaking documentary cinema but neither does it add anything to the tenacious list of already existing docu-series on the subject. It is thus essential to question if we need these 'tell-all' documentaries at all, especially when they add no value to the current dialogue or assist in speeding up the process. If not, it perhaps only aids in capitalistic milking of a victim's misery.

Britney vs Spears claims to uncover the failure of the system and how family and the judiciary let Britney down. In many ways, however, so does the documentary.

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