Did you mean “Free Britney”? Or “Free Britney to entertain me”?
Released: Jan 2018
Tag line: "Dreamy and Romantic"
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You Said You Wanted to Free Britney Spears. So Let Her Be Free
Since Britney Spears got free after 13 years under a conservatorship, she’s been posting nudes—full-frontal images, with carefully placed heart emoji. She’s tossed around the idea of having another baby. She’s been exchanging harsh words with her sister, Jamie Lynn Spears. (“I’m sorry Jamie Lynn, I wasn’t strong enough to do what should have been done…slapped you and Mamma right across your fucking faces !!!!!”) On Wednesday, January 19, Rolling Stone reported that Spears’s lawyer sent Jamie Lynn a cease-and-desist letter.
Over on Spears’s Instagram—her regular means of communicating with the public—she has maintained the style that caused so many people to worry over her conservatorship in the first place. The account reposts low-res images, repeats the same photos and videos of herself, and writes in a style that veers from cogent and funny to indecipherable. If you thought that her feed would look more like a Simpson’s or a Carey’s after the conservatorship was lifted, you thought wrong—here’s a stock image of a typewriter, kitschy black-and-white photos of toddlers, and seen-before selfies of Brit from a high angle.
So how is Britney’s public—who begged, marched, and posted for her release—reacting to her newfound freedom? In a recent post, a smiling Britney dances in front of a Christmas tree. Let’s pull a few comments:
“Briiiiit, now that you have your money back, hire a stylist please.”
“She really gives off the weirdest vibes in these videos.”
“Now she’s free can ANYONE teach her some moves other than the last 3 yrs worth of awkward foot to foot, walk & spin or spin spin spin.”
“Someone please get her a stylist.”
“Umm....what are you doing??”
“I love you but please fix your eye makeup!!”
The public said we wanted Britney Spears to be free. But did we really want her to be free, or did we just want her released into our custody? Increasingly it seems that when some people said “Free Britney,” they meant “Free her to entertain me,” and “Free her to present as visually perfect and emotionally untraumatized for my benefit as a viewer.” Certainly, plenty of Britney fans—including many of those who propelled the Free Britney movement—want her to do whatever she wants. Every famous person, especially women—get rude and offensive comments on social media. Even Malala! Even Martha Stewart!
But the particular creepiness of Britney’s comments is that they’re not just the typical mix of praise and insults. They’re all people telling her what to do, with even more vehemence than is typical on a celebrity post—fix your hair, write a book, go on tour, do better, be clearer, give a sign that you’re okay. The law controlled her; now her fans cajole her. In the last year the Spears situation seemed like the crest of the wave of reckoning over the way we treat women entertainers—their talent and youth are extracted, their bodies are sexualized far beyond their consent, they are hectored and criticized no matter what they do. It felt like we were developing a greater sense of collective compassion, that we would extend beyond Britney Spears, beyond famous people altogether.
Plenty of people took stock of the Britney situation, resolved to do better, and so much discourse online and in person has changed. But for huge swaths of the population, it’s just business as usual. She’s still Ms. Oh My God! That Britney’s Shameless; still She’s Too Big Now She’s Too Thin. Many of us still just want a piece of her.
Source Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can https://twitter.com/JeanValjenny"}" href="https://twitter.com/JeanValjenny" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); cursor: pointer; --color__token-name:colors.interactive.base.light; color: rgb(235, 0, 40); transition: color 200ms ease 0s; line-height: inherit; text-decoration: inherit; font-family: Georgia, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 18px;">follow her on Twitter.