How Britney Spears Survived 2007

– There’s a popular saying that goes, if Britney survived 2007,
you can survive today. But what contributed to her
public and private struggles, and what can we learn from
her trials and tribulations that have contributed to pop
culture as we know it today? We’re about to find out. (electronic dance music) We’ve got a panel of
Britney experts here today, ranging from diehard
Stans to people who have a more complicated
relationship with the pop star. We have like, a spectrum here, it’s like. – Straight to gay. – Exactly.
(panel laughs) Who is Britney Spears? She was born on a holy
day, December 2, 1981 in Kentwood, Louisiana to
Jamie and Lynne Spears. At age 11, Britney is accepted
into the Mickey Mouse Club, and she goes on to sign with Jive Records and becomes an opening act for N’SYNC. Britney became a star pretty quickly. In 1998, at the age of 17, she released “Baby One More Time.” The album Baby One More Time became the biggest-selling
LP by a teenage artist ever. – I think the music video
is what made it go crazy. – The whole video was her idea, the whole like, school room thing. She tied up her shirt all on her own. She was in charge of
her vision from day one. I was officially a gay man. – I think that’s very
smart, but I love the way how you said, she pulled
up and tied her shirt as if she like, fucking solved gravity. – That was so iconic, tell me you didn’t do that at this age. – No, it’s iconic, but people
did that before her, too. – I mean, we’re still talking about it. – True, true. – [Sam] There’s no argument. She became the biggest
pop star in the world. From the beginning, the media has always had a fascination with
Britney’s sexuality. In 2000, at the MTV Movie Awards, Britney ripped away a black suit to reveal a crystal nude body suit, which was considered
controversial at the time because she was only 19 years old. – Girl Scout moms in my group thought she was a bad role model. – She once again sparked
controversy at the 2001 VMAs when she performed scantily-clad with a python wrapped
around her shoulders. Also, this huge speculation over her first public relationship with the infamous Justin Timberlake. You guys remember their AMAs outfit where they were dressed
in all denim, right? – [Sheridan] Who doesn’t
remember that outfit? (panel laughs) That will go in like, a museum. – [Sam] The media was instantly infatuated with their relationship. But the fairy tale was not meant to last. Britney and Justin broke up in 2002. It was rumored they split
because Britney was cheating, and she never directly
denied these allegations. – Justin really wants you to know that Britney cheated on him. – [Sheridan] Cry Me a River
was his huge first song. – [Christian] Because of what? – [Sheridan] Britney,
it was about Britney. – [Christian] He put this
woman with blonde hair, gave her that pink hat, and he made it into his first big hit, and that pushed him into pop stardom. Before that, he was
just a member of N’SYNC. – I want to know what Jessica
Biel thinks about this. – Right? I don’t know. – She’s too busy running Au Fudge. (panel laughs) Justin publicly stated that
during their relationship they had sex, which was a big deal, considering Britney talked
a lot about her virginity. – There is rule in the book,
the Bible, that says that. I think that is a really
important thing to do. – For some reason, parents
wouldn’t let their kids listen to young women singing unless they proclaimed they were virgins. – But I mean, she was a teenager. Just because someone was
expressing their sexuality onstage, didn’t mean you could ask such
personal questions offstage. – [Pablo] I think she set the mold for Disney channel stars
and Nickelodeon stars, because we saw Miley Cyrus
kind of took the same cycle. – Also this time, she dropped
her fourth album, In the Zone. This is when Toxic is released, every straight person’s
favorite Britney song. She returned to the
VMA stage with Madonna, Christina Aguilera. – [Sheridan] Oh my God, the kiss. Actually two kisses, but everyone forgets about the Christina/Madonna kiss. – [Christian] Well I mean,
Missy Elliot was there too, but who talks about Missy, either. – [Sheridan] Missy was there? – I was raised Mormon, so for me that was a little bit of a shock, but
it spoke to me a little bit because I knew that I was
this queer little boy. – I know, it’s like two women kissing defined the adolescences
of gay men, basically. Someone could do that in the
middle of the street now. – [Sheridan] Oh yeah, but at the time. – It made her more of a news story. – With Madonna as her
model, Britney Spears has upset a lot of
mothers in this country. – [Kendall] Really, if
I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would. – Oh, that’s horrible! – People say it’s the beginning of the downfall for Britney, in a way. – [Sam] Would you say this
like, intense fascination with her public appearance
is also sort of indicative of celebrity and paparazzi
culture of the time period? – Oh, a hundred percent. Doesn’t matter which lives they ruined, if they could follow
Britney Spears around, get a good shot of her,
they could live pretty well for the next few months. And if you also look at her in photos during this time period,
going to gas stations and just not wearing
much, getting Cheetos. – I don’t know, I like at her
just going to the gas station in Uggs a little liberating for her because she’s not feeling like she has to get all gussied up,
and being Britney Spears, this perfect package. She’s a human, okay. – But behind the scenes, she’s… – But is she okay?
– Yes. – [Sam] Following her
iconic MTV performance, Britney’s personal life
takes a strange turn. Britney marries her childhood friend, Jason Alexander, in a Las Vegas wedding. – Well, it technically never happened because it was annulled. – So forget it happened.
– Just poof. – [Sam] The marriage lasts 55 hours. – She just became this
mega, mega, mega star, and that was something more simple. Something that she was
probably nostalgic for. – Christian, you’re getting
real deep about this, and like–
– Well, how can it– – And there are a lot of
things to get real deep about, but let’s be honest.
– How can it not be real deep? – They were drunk in Vegas,
got married, had it annulled, and I think that’s okay to say. – Right but there are– – That happens, I have
three college friends who did the same thing. – I think there was
something a little more than just being drunk. – [Sam] To make matters
worse, Britney had to cancel her highly anticipated Onyx Hotel Tour because she injured her
knee on a music video shoot. – And I think after that, I mean, she hasn’t really ever moved the same way. ‘Cause she was such a great dancer, and that’s what she was really,
really, really known for. – Kind of stuck with her to this day. – It has, yeah. – I know if you’re super
busy, it’s hard to confront your problems, no matter what they are. You’re not thinking about
it, but for the first time, she finally had to take
a pause and step back. It was kind of a huge turning point. – This brings us to another
infamous name in Britney’s life, Kevin Federline, a 25-year-old
high school dropout from Fresno, California. He and his ex-girlfriend Shar Jackson had one child together
and another on the way. Spears became enamored
with the club fixture and known as Meat Pole. – Meat Pole? – You’re not attracted to that nickname? – No, for some reason that
doesn’t get my juices flowing. – [Sam] Later that year, she
proposed to Kevin Federline. – [Sheridan] Britney Spears could have had anyone on the planet, but. – [Pablo] I can see why
she chose him, lookswise. – Definitely a career low for her. I mean, and then,
Chaotic, the show on UPN. – It’s kind of interesting to see how we fell in love, got in
fights, everything, you know. It’s just kind of there. – I don’t know how much
of fights it shows. – Well, it doesn’t show all the fights. But you can feel the tension. – [Sheridan] Oh, my God. RIP UPN. – [Sam] On September 14th,
2005, Britney gave birth to her first child,
Sean Preston Federline. In 2006, she gave birth to her second son with Federline, Jayden. On several occasions, the
paparazzi caught Britney in compromising positions
with her children. Sean sitting improperly in a baby seat. – And what are the circumstances? She was trying to get
away from the paparazzi. She was trying to protect her kid, and it was the quickest way
to get out of that situation. – And she was being followed, not by just one or two photographers
at a time, like dozens. I couldn’t live under that microscope. That’s insane. – She couldn’t go anywhere.
– She couldn’t go anywhere. – We just need privacy,
and we need our respect. And those are things that
you have to have as a human. – If someone’s following you 24/7, are you gonna be perfect 24/7? – No. – Absolutely not. – [Sam] Media speculation
about her parenting resulted in the LA Department
of Child and Family Services to investigate her. Britney broke up with Kevin Federline after two years of marriage. – [Sheridan] He was a “rapper,” right? Oh, God. Never trust a White guy in cornrows. – [Sam] The first song was called Popozao. – [Sheridan] Oh my God, I remember, yes. – Following the
announcement of her divorce, Britney is seen partying it up with none other than Paris
Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. – Yeah, this was the start of
Britney’s excessive partying. She is under the influence of alcohol, and you don’t know what else is going on. – There are these famous
images of her exiting the car with her hoo-ha showing to the world. – That point, there was
nothing she could do that was off limits to anyone. – In February, reports that an email from her assistant says that Britney was spiraling out of control and her family wanted
her to get treatment. Britney Spears checked into rehab, and left in less than 24 hours. Britney went to a hair salon
in Tarzana, California. She was reportedly complaining about her hair extensions be too tight. The salon owner refused to cut her hair, so Britney grabbed the clippers,
and she did it herself. (subdued electronic music) – [Sheridan] We saw photos. Every moment of this whole
weekend was heavily documented. – [Christian] I know there’s conspiracies as to why she did it, but, like she said, she was tired of everyone touching her. She was constantly told what
to do, and pulled and pushed, and I think it was her
liberating herself, in a way. Like, I’m shaving my
head, that Britney, gone. – Our first thought,
when we were seeing this, say, oh, Britney’s so crazy. – Yeah, at the time, I didn’t understand the whole mental health aspect about it. I don’t think any of us really did. And so, she just became
the butt of the joke. – [Christian] I don’t think it
came as a surprise to anyone, because that’s where we were pushing her. – [Sam] In September 2007, a
judge ordered Britney Spears to submit to random drug tests. In October 2007, Federline is awarded sole custody of the kids, and Spears’ visitation
rights with her children were also suspended until she complied with court orders in their custody battle. After she was asked how she was doing, Spears was filmed telling reporters, quote, “Eat it, snort
it, lick it, fuck it.” And she’s also speaking
in a British accent to paparazzi at this time. In the midst of all this personal drama, Britney’s team strong-armed her
into performing at the VMAs. – Obviously, the performance of someone who was struggling with a lot of stuff. – [Sam] For the performance,
she had to wear a wig because her hair was still growing back. – She stayed out until
2:30 a.m. that night. – Forget appearance,
because people have made comments about her not
being in peak shape. She looked downright out of it. – Was she ever going to win over the general public at that point? I mean, we were in the middle
of lighting her on fire. – They wanted that to happen. – Despite all these person struggles, in 2007, Britney manages to release quite possibly her best
album yet, Blackout. – A piece of light in
a very dark, dark time. – [Pablo] I think, after
seeing headline after headline being like her career’s
over, her career’s over, her fans were over her, she still releases a good body of work. – It was her only album
to join the archives of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After Blackout’s release,
Britney Spears was hospitalized after locking herself in the bathroom with her youngest son,
Jayden, for three hours, and refusing to hand him over to her ex-husband Kevin Federline. Later in the month, Britney
Spears is hospitalized again, and a motorcade of police
vehicles and a police helicopter took her in an ambulance at 1 a.m. Her mother also encouraged Dr. Phil to visit Britney in the Psychiatric Ward of Cedars-Sinai Medical
Center at this time. Dr. Phil immediately went around and told the press everything. In 2008, Britney Spears begins being controlled by a guardianship, a court approved
conservatorship for people who are deemed incapable of
taking care of themselves. This is a major turning point in her life. – I think why she committed
to the conservatorship was so she could have
some custody of her kids, so she could see her kids. – All she cared about was her children. – There’s a lot of good
things that can come out of structure and some certain limits. – She went into hiding a bit. You didn’t see her everywhere. You didn’t see all these
Britney controversies. It’s gets sticky when
you think about her dad and the money he makes
from being a conservator. – [Sheridan] If she’s being forced into a studio at
gunpoint, we have no idea. – And they’re priming her up for this huge comeback at the 2008 VMAs, a year after the “Gimme More” performance. – [Sheridan] Was it really only a year? – Only a year. Was it too soon for her? – Hopefully, their cycle
just doesn’t repeat itself where she feels like too many people are around her and controlling her. – If what happened in
Britney’s career in 2007 happened today in 2018, how
would it play out differently? – People are way more empathetic to issues surrounding mental health. – I will say that sometimes I feel like people still
haven’t even learned this because if you you look at
Amanda Bynes in her time, there was the same exact process. None of us want to be watched like that, so I don’t understand why
you can watch someone, laugh at them, but I’m
gonna go mess up in private because I have that ability to. – Do you guys think we made any progress in the way that media treats and portrays women’s bodies and sexuality? – Now we’re in a place where
we’re talking about it, and people are admitting
things and being vocal. I see, as time goes on, we’re
reclaiming our sexuality and trying to figure out
what it means to be a woman. I think we can describe
Britney as a trailblazer. She could have just
crawled back to Louisiana, and we would be talking about, like, whatever happened to Britney Spears. But the mere fact that she came back and stronger than ever
is pretty impressive. Before her, Vegas was
seen as you’re getting a little older as an artist,
have a Vegas residency, get some good money in your last years. Britney turned that into you can go while you’re still the
young artist you are, make good money, people will come see you from all around the world. And now, look, everyone’s coming to Vegas. – Yeah.
– She is a trailblazer, so it’s exciting to see. She’s only 35, 36. – Which I think is the
age that you qualify to run for President of the United States. – I can’t handle that. (panel laughs) (“America the Beautiful”
by Katharine Lee Bates)

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