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'Britney: For the Record'


There are so many things to like about Britney Spears -- she’s so darn pretty for one thing, even when she’s chewing gum, which is still pretty much all the time. She’s got the same sort of mile-wide smile and joyous laugh that made Julia Roberts a big star. She sings pretty well for a pop star, and she moves her butt like no one’s business.

But even after more than a decade in the business, she seems disturbingly stalled in adolescence. Those tuning into "Britney: For the Record" on MTV in search of a sadder but wiser Brit certainly found the former -- "I'm sad," she confided to the camera at one point, her lovely eyes filling with tears as she realized that her entourage doesn’t listen to her like they should -- but wiser? Does a wise woman answer a question about her infamous head-shaving incident with the observation that “people shave their heads all the time”? Possibly, no.

Although a self-important typographic intro explains that Spears had invited a camera crew to follow her for 60 days during which “no question would be off limits,” many of the questions most of us still have were never, apparently, asked. Is she sober? Who knows? What was she on when she shaved her head or popped in and out of rehab or did that truly insane interview with Matt Lauer? No telling. According to Britney, things got a little rocky there after she and Kevin Federline split. She felt “devastated” and “lonely” and began to allow some “bad people” into her life.  She looks back now and wonders, “What the hell was I thinking?” but that’s as far as it goes. The only self-realization Spears has come to, it would seem, is that she’s stronger than she thought she was and that the paparazzi are really mean.

Far more revealing than “her own words” is the glimpse the film provides into the strange, insular world of the pop star. The hours spent in makeup, in wardrobe, in meetings, in weird places that aren’t really places -- hotel rooms, greenrooms, sound stages. There are several scenes shot from the interior of a black SUV (Memo to celebrities: The paparazzi are on to the whole black SUV thing), including a harrowing incident in which she literally cannot safely get out of the car. But that space, in which about six people can fit comfortably, is an unnervingly accurate symbol for how confined she is, or at least how confined she believes she is.

“I wish I wasn’t famous,” she says at one point with a wistfulness that seems sincere, “so I could feel part of people.”

“I’ve seen someone become a superstar,” says longtime choreographer and bubble-buddy Andre Fuentes, “and I’ve seen someone hurt by being a superstar.”

This is the leitmotif of “Britney: For the Record,” that fame has made her a prisoner. Although at one point she openly chastises people who complain about the backside of fame, whatever explanation she has for the years in which she lost her way comes down to the cameras that follow her like, it must be said, a pack of ravening wolves. But that she had any part in their creation -- that her past crazy-with-a-capital-K actions helped create the tabloid mess from which she is trying to extricate herself -- is not part of this film’s conversation.

Instead, we get the news flash from Madonna that “things happen for a reason” and “there is order in the universe,” though not apparently when some of her technical equipment fails and almost causes her to cancel her portion of a show at Dodger Stadium. But that’s show biz.

In this way, “Britney: For the Record” is a film of startling insight: In what universe is Madonna the go-to-gal on spiritual and emotional growth? In the world of Britney Spears. The trap Spears finds herself in may have more to do with a lack of imagination than the paparazzi -- at one point, she laments that the cameras have taken away her cool girl cred, that she can’t be a party girl anymore, which makes her kind of boring. “There’s no excitement, there’s no passion, there’s no nothing. It’s just like ‘Groundhog Day’ every day, you know? So I’m really bored,” she says. During another moment of high emotion, she drives herself practically to tears arguing with her entourage that not only doesn’t she always get to do what she wants, she never gets to do what she wants.

Brit Here is Britney Spears, apparently on the road to a tremendous comeback, young and pretty, talented and rich, and yet she has to make an effort to “stay positive every day” because life can “be so cruel.”
When asked what she hopes viewers will take away from her documentary, Spears hesitates, charmingly, then says: “That I’m just like them. That I love my babies, and I work very hard.”

It’s a lovely answer, Britney at her down-home best. It’s hard not to wish her, and her young sons, all the best in life, hard not to be happy that the early reviews of her new album are good, that her tour looks promising. But  you do have to wonder if maybe she’s in the wrong line of work. Being a superstar takes talent and dedication, both of which she certainly has. But it also takes a pretty thick skin. No matter how many music video awards you get or how loud the fans scream, life is too short to spend it being so sad and bored.

--Mary McNamara

(Photo courtesy MTV)

Comments () | Archives (14)

how bout why did you wear a pink wig and talk in a britsh accent and date that tool Adnan. How bout the late night trips to gas stations and all the drugs you were on??? How bout talking about how you were completely insane for like a year. How about that. the show didn't answer anything at all!!!!

People with this much fame, and this level of boredom, tend not to last very long. If it weren't for her father's permanent conservatorship, she might be dead within 5 years. Pity her sons. And every one of those "friends" she has would move on in a heartbeat without that spotlight glaring down on her. I really feel sorry for her.

She's got a new album out so she's magically not cuckoo for cocoa puffs anymore? Sorry I dont buy it, not for a second. Go home to Louisiana and help raise your baby sis's kid Britney. People around here dont want you back.

Ms. McNamara, you may want to get a subscription to the Los Angeles Times. According to them Ms. Spears is so severely mentally ill that she is under a permanent conservatorship, putting her under the complete legal control of her father. It is not surprising that Ms. Spears does not find it fun to be in her mid-20s, mentally ill, heavily medicated, and unable to either do what she wants or spend the money that she appears to continue to work very hard to earn.

I wanted her to answer the following questions:
- What happened between her and JT an KFed?
- What made her look crazy when she was hitting the SUV with the umbrella?
- What were you thinking about driving around with your child not buckled up?
- How are you and your mother?

Stuff like that. Don't get me wrong I love Britney, but I stil lhave a lot of unanswered questions.

And where was her mother during this whole filming thing?

Honestly, Brittney said it last night...it's no ones business. I get that she did this to try to set some stories straight, but she still has the right to be private about whatever she wants.
It's just good to see that her life is a lot more healthy; yes, she's very controlled by people (always), but at least it's people with her best interest in mind.

Actually, people DO shave their heads all the time, and it's only the media that turned this very normal act into an "infamous" one in her case.

Across the world, millions of people suffer bipolar breakdowns, but only a few people have to do it on camera with the whole country pointing fingers and judging them all the way.

Maybe that's why we make some people so famous. Because it's a lot more fun judging others than it is being judged yourself.

i know...all of a sudden she is back to be "normal" again. The 3 awards MTV gave to her was a total set up and a joke. She didnt deserve any of them. It was all a plan to make her look like she is on the comeback and perfectly orchestrated.

How bout these questions???
1. What was with the pink wig?
2. British accent?? Really?
3. 2am gas station runs?
4. Adnan? What was that all about?

it's not normal to shave your head and beat the paps down with an umbrella. sorry. She just needs to admit she was on drugs for a long period of time and that is why she went crazy.

Selfish, dumb, and dumber. People like this should suffer because of their own stupidity. She has no one else to blame but herself.

When Britney first started her downward spiral, I was one of the many who did not feel sorry for her, but for her sons. After watching this "documentary", I'm not convinced she is any more mentally stable than before. She looked/acted like she was on some type of medication. Anti-depressants, perhaps? If so, I've heard that they can make you feel like you're moving through cement (no passion, no excitement). I do feel her father being her conservator was a good move. I pray that he has her best interest at heart. I would think she would have to be somewhat better to get more visitation with her sons. I don't think she answered any of the "important" questions so many people have for her. At any rate, I do hope she finds a way to be happy with her life and her children!

exactly it's no one's buisness she answered the questions that were asked what more can you want,they didnt ask her those awfull questions so she couldnt answer why she wore a pink wig and talked in a british acent!!!!!!!it made me love her even more it broke my heart seeing her cry to start with seeing ive been a fan since i was eight years old and im now eighteen,
circus is a frikin awsome album also so go buy it people.

Britney i watched your new show and i am so so proud of u!! your a wonderfull mami
and you deserve so much more than u have been geting. you made me cry!!! Every time someone says something negitive about u i stick up for u!! i am your #1 fan!!! i supported you when u had your little down fall and i will be there for u til the day u is gone!!!
luv ya girl!!!

This was the biggest piece of garbage I've seen in a long time. Britney, can you form a complete sentence? THIS was the best of 60 days of footage?
"For the record"? What did you even disclose? This was advertisement for her comeback and her new record. I truly feel sad for her, as she seems extremely pathetic, lonely and miserable despite constantly being around people. Honestly, the biggest waste of an hour I can possibly imagine; I am literally sitting with my mouth half-open in disbelief at this idiot who claims that she thinks that some others have it worse than she does. Really? No! Actually you're right - make your way to the wizard of oz and ask for a brain.

What really struck me was how many paparazzi there were and how aggressive they were. I'm not sure I would be so well adjusted if one, I was so sexualized at such a young age and two, if people wouldn't leave me alone. She is entitled to act and be the way she wants. The only reason you feel that she's selfish is because she has money and privilege. All the money and privilege in the world won't make you happy and I definitely think that could be a message people can take (not that that was her objective.) I feel for her.


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