This week Britney Spears released “memoirs” titled The Woman in Me which tell all kinds of tales about her life. Simon and Schuster should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. I have big opinions about it.
The “Free Britney” movement was always well intended but naive and reckless. It’s very clear in this the public journey of Britney from conservatorship to her current clearly extremely dangerous situation “liberated” from her “captors” that some people have experienced severe mental illness up close and some absolutely have not.
I do not need to be a doctor or have access to Britney Spears’s medical records to easily come to the conclusion that I believe she is seriously unwell. Having had up close and personal experience with schizophrenia as well as severe bi-polar which resulted in the loss of those loved ones, I know exactly how it presents and exactly what it looks like. My loved ones who suffered believed things and “remembered” things that were never true. Dark things. Things that would have ruined other people’s lives if believed. Things like attempts on their life. Imprisonment. Affairs. Paranoia and delusion is extremely common for people with mental illness. It’s extremely and extraordinarily devastating. And results quite often in lost life as was my experience.
I have no possible way of knowing Ms. Spears’s status of medication and care. But I have seen her recently dance, unhinged, with knives (which she claims were fake but look exactly like knives she used to cut fruit in earlier videos so who knows). I have seen her sons berated (including by her on more than one occasion) on the internet for daring to suggest their mother was not someone they could safely have in their lives at this time. I have recently seen her fake a pregnancy and post mostly nude videos for no apparent reason. Of course she has every “right” to do whatever she wants. But to deny the behavior is absolutely textbook of someone in the throes of deep, dangerous, mental illness, off their medication is not only disingenuous but lousy and not actually kind.
For Simon and Schuster to enter into a contractual agreement with Spears (if they did) and to feel not ethical responsibility for whatever she might say is true in a version of her life which is clearly (clear to me) coming from a place of confusion and fantasy is extra gross to me.
For the media and fans to eat up every claim she is making in her book at the expense of people who are very real and have very real lives and careers and families is even more gross. When people repeat as though it is Biblical truth that Justin Timberlake pressured Britney Spears into an abortion and cheated on her at such a young age, it is damaging. It matters. Just like her implausible claims (of which she had no proof) about her father and sister and mother during her conservatorship also mattered and hurt people and herself. Justin Timberlake might be the worst guy ever. Who knows? But here is what I do know about him based on his social media:
- His most recent instagram posts are of him and his old band NSync reuniting to create a new song for a popular children’s film franchise, Trolls.
- He also recently posted about his brand new scholarship program
- An appreciation post of him and his wife doing normal things like hiking and attending events together
- Not one unhinged dance, rant about his family, or needlessly nude photo to be found.
It seems like Justin Timberlake, no matter who he might be as a person, is doing pretty well and living a pretty normal looking life for a celebrity. And if you’re asking me to accept the story of someone who is clearly in desperate need of help and supervision over the story of a well adjusted working man who has not made a single wave or pass at needless attention in the last decade then I think you know who I am going to trust. Even if her story is true, which it might be, that doesn’t make it “the truth” in the fullest expression of the notion. The truth is a lot bigger than isolated facts.
Britney is an icon and a legend. There would be no Taylor Swift Eras Tour without Britney Spears. She paved the way for women to become true performers in a modern sense. Her legacy is damaged by predators like publishers who would make money off her no matter what it is she might have to say. We should not celebrate those predators. We should hope she is reunited with loving family, medical care, safety and reality.