‘Framing Britney Spears’ and how media portrayed young women celebrities in early 2000s

Britney Spears at a performance in 2011. The paparazzi relentlessly pursued her during her heyday. She ended up being involuntarily hospitalized, and control of her career and fortune fell to her father. Photo by Jennifer (CC BY 2.0).

For a lot of people, Britney Spears is just a bubble gum pop star undone by fame. But her story is a much larger one — about how America treats its stars, especially young women. 

The paparazzi relentlessly pursued her during her heyday. She ended up being involuntarily hospitalized. Now her father controls her career and fortune. This story is told in a new New York Times documentary called “Framing Britney Spears,” out now on Hulu. 

Spears is not the only celebrity from that era who’s being reevaluated. Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Monica Lewinsky are all judged by different standards than men. 

“What they all talk about, after all these years away from the spotlight when they needed a break, they come back and say, ‘This really traumatized me. This had aftereffects that long outlasted the actual tension itself,’” says Ashley Fetters, who covers pop culture at the Washington Post. 

She says the media treated these women in a dehumanizing way. “Lots of young women especially were really treated as punchlines instead of people.” 

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