The Big Problem With That ‘Controlling Britney Spears’ Emmy Nomination

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Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Hulu
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Hulu

A documentary about Britney Spears and the conservatorship that subjugated her has been nominated for an Emmy, despite the singer’s strong public repudiation of her portrayal.

Controlling Britney Spears, released on FX and Hulu last September, is up against The Tinder Swindler, George Carlin’s American Dream and other titles for Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special.

A winner will be announced at the ceremony in September, though in Spears’ eyes, the whole effort is an unworthy sham meant to embarrass her even more.

“It was the most insulting thing I ever saw in my life and every person I have spoken to has said it’s why the conservatorship ended … REALLY ???,” she said in a since-deleted Instagram post over the weekend, according to screenshots posted by Just Jared. “That’s the saddest thing I ever saw in my life … so people not only get away with what they did to me, not even coming close to sharing what they really did to me, but they can expose me on such an embarrassing tone claiming its to ‘Help me.”

She continued, “I’m not sure why people think it’s legal to completely humiliate me.”

The documentary is a follow-up to Framing Britney Spears, the first exploration of the shady arrangement that controlled her life for 13 years. That one was nominated for an Emmy last year, though it lost to Apple TV+ and A24’s Boys State.

‘Controlling Britney Spears’ Reveals the Pop Star and #FreeBritney Supporters Were Spied On Relentlessly

Both were credited with contributing to her future legal success by methodically explaining how her estranged father, Jamie Spears, was able to game the court system and wrestle control of her bank account, medication schedule, and reproductive freedom while the singer suffered a breakdown in 2008. Controlling contained even more shocking revelations, with former staffers claiming that Spears was constantly monitored via a camera placed in her room and an iPad that mirrored the contents of her phone via iCloud, thus sharing every text message and attempted phone call with her hawk-eyed dad.

Though a California judge freed Spears from the shackles of his control back in November, Spears has remained steadfast that it was she who made it happen, and not the press that voraciously printed her every move in an effort to sketch out her demise for that all-too-familiar build-you-up-to-tear-you-down cycle.

The slew of documentaries released last year about what is perhaps the most painful period in her life raise questions about whether the media was simply capitalizing on her suffering one more time.

The 40-year-old pop icon previously said she didn’t watch all of Framing, but that she nonetheless “cried for two weeks” about how she was portrayed. After Controlling came out, she revealed that a lot of the salacious allegations are “not true.”

The New York Times did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Over the weekend, Spears criticized the success of the documentaries for minimizing her own efforts to gain control of her life, most notably her court testimony last June. In the impassioned plea, she told the judge that her doctors—at the direction of her father and his business partner Lou Taylor of Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group—would not allow her to remove an IUD so she could have children.

“I just want to know how are all these people saying it helped me when I feel by with just my mouth and my WORD And what I said in my testimony to the judge !! THAT said it all … that would be ENOUGH. But not in America !!,” she said.

Of course, documentaries are filmed and released without the blessing of their subjects all the time. Sometimes it’s necessary for the sake of accuracy, and documentaries about dead people would otherwise be impossible to make. But it’s discomforting to see a documentary that implicitly blames the media for Spears’ breakdown and incessantly negative coverage in the aughts go on to cause her even more distress today.

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