Framing Britney Spears – which aired on Saturday 6 February on FX in the US – is a joint project between New York Times journalists Jason Stallman, Sam Dolnick, and Stephanie Preiss along with Left/Right’s Ken Druckerman, Banks Tarver, and Mary Robertson.
It examines Spear’s career and the #FreeBritney movement that campaigns against her ongoing conservatorship.
Paramore singer and solo artist Williams said that the current discourse around mental health awareness would not have happened without the scrutiny that Spears suffered in 2008.
“The Framing Britney Spears doc holy f***. No artist today would have to endure the literal torture that media/society/utter misogynists inflicted upon her,” Williams tweeted.
“The mental health awareness conversation, culturally, could never be where it is without the awful price she has paid.”
Singer Sam Smith appeared to agree, and quoted Williams’ tweet with a finger emoji pointing towards her message.
However, other viewers argued that not enough progress had been made.
“I don’t think we’ve learned much,” one said. “The mental health conversation is largely in the same place and she’s still under conservatorship. The paparazzi problem still exists but a lot of it has now shifted to social media where you have access to hateful misogynistic comments 24/7.”
Music critic Brittny Pierre wrote: “The way the media treated Britney from the beginning of her career was revolting. She was a kid. They sexualized her and then vilified her at the same time.”
Musician Liz Phair said the documentary had “stung”.
“A) men controlling finances 10yr+ of a grown woman who earned her own money,” she said. “Are moms put in charge of adult pop star sons who show erratic behaviour? – no.”
She added: “B) ‘90s solidarity: appalling slut-shaming when what was happening was taking back the narrative.”
A number of other viewers called the documentary “shocking” and “upsetting”.
Spears’s assets have been under the control of her father Jamie Spears since 2008, when she was put on a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold and had visitation rights to her children suspended.
Under the conservatorship, Jamie Spears and a lawyer have the legal right to oversee and make decisions regarding Spears’s finances, health, business arrangements and personal life.
Framing Britney Spears is available to watch now on FX in the US. A UK release date has not been announced.