The disclosures concerning Britney Spears’ nearly 13-year-old conservatorship, which was managed by her father, startled the nation last summer, prompting many to rally under the hashtag #FreeBritney. Spears’ harrowing testimony before a Los Angeles judge came only months after the New York Times’ explosive documentary Framing Britney Spears prompted people to consider how young female music stars and celebrities have been handled over the years.
That film, it turned out, had only scraped the surface. With the release of the sequel Controlling Britney Spears and Netflix’s Britney vs. Spears, even more light has been shed on Spears’ terrible story of alleged exploitation and abuse. Both documentaries peel back the layers of what we’ve already heard about the terrifying control on Spears.
Through interviews with assistants, who had close ties with Spears and a whistleblower from her security detail, FX on Hulu’s Controlling Britney Spears looks into the people and companies that allegedly facilitated Spears’ conservatorship and her father’s control over her life.
Britney vs. Spears, on the other hand, provides detailed, if not voyeuristic, looks into Spears’ background, including disturbing footage of her public mental health difficulties in 2007 and 2008.
If you can get past the disturbing pictures and the intrusive inclusion of private text messages allegedly sent by Britney Spears, the documentary also features interviews with ex-romantic partners and further insight into her private, years-long quest to be free of the conservatorship.
One of the disclosures in the documentary was a statement Britney Spears purportedly wrote and sent to Andrew Gallery, who worked on the 2008 MTV documentary Britney: For the Record and had built a friendship with her, according to Gallery. Spears handed Gallery the written statement as a response to the interview after the release of a December 2008 issue of People with Kevin Federline on the cover, as he indicated in the film, and asked Gallery to read it on television.
The statement read, “I was amazed how a lot of the focus was on Britney their mother to sell a story for People magazine instead of the focus being on Kevin. What happened to Britney was a year ago and people need to get with the times.”
Spears, who has two children with Federline, Sean Preston, 16, and Jayden James, 15, allegedly wrote that her lawyers “forced” her to divorce him because “she went to visit him in NY and he wouldn’t see her and the children,” according to the letter. “And her lawyers said if she doesn’t divorce him he’s going to do it himself.”
Britney vs. Spears also revealed that Spears reportedly signed a court petition arranged by her ex-manager Sam Lutfi and ex-partner Adnan Ghalib in 2009, demanding for the replacement of her former court-appointed counsel, Sam Ingham.
The petition was secretly sent to The Montage in Beverly Hills, where Britney Spears met former Rolling Stone journalist Jenny Eliscu in a toilet stall and received and signed the petitions, according to the documentary.
Spears was initially spotted poolside by Eliscu, who had known her for a decade, before moving to a secret place to pass on the paperwork. She stated that she wanted to be a “good Samaritan,” and that she was concerned about her father Jamie Spears’ reaction to the move, but that she appreciated the support.