Hosts of ‘Britney’s Gram’ podcast about Britney Spears open up

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In 2017, Tess Barker and Barbara Grey launched a podcast, “Britney’s Gram,” devoted to humorously dissecting Britney Spears’ enigmatic Instagram account. After which #FreeBritney took flight.

The hashtag’s transition into a bona-fide motion — made up of followers advocating for the singer to be launched from the conservatorship she’s been below for almost 13 years — took form after the pair launched a particular podcast episode in 2019 that includes a troubling voicemail from somebody who claimed to be a former paralegal for a lawyer who labored on Spears’ conservatorship.

The fan-driven marketing campaign is a by line within the much-discussed documentary “Framing Britney Spears.” A part of FX’s “The New York Instances Presents” documentary collection, the movie traces the pop star’s rise to fame and the controversial conservatorship she was positioned below after struggling a public breakdown in 2007-08, and which she is at present battling in courtroom.

However simply because the documentary scrutinizes the tabloid tradition of the early aughts, the movie and the wave of protection round it — together with in The Instances — have led some to wonder if the press has merely created yet one more Spears frenzy. Specifically, “Framing Britney Spears” has are available in for criticism for its credulous therapy of the #FreeBritney motion that “Britney’s Gram” helped unleash.

Barker and Grey spoke with The Instances concerning the comedian origins of “Britney’s Gram,” the way forward for the podcast and grappling with their very own function in an usually poisonous celeb tradition. The next dialog has been condensed and edited for readability.

“Framing Britney Spears” actually highlights the invasive media frenzy — and its built-in misogyny — that surrounded Spears and contributed to her struggles. What’s your tackle among the mea culpas which have emerged within the days since?

Grey: It’s one thing we’ve been contemplating this whole time. We’re round Britney’s age, so we have been a byproduct of that in our personal means — simply type of seeing it being performed out in entrance of us. I feel lots of people’s response is, “We didn’t even notice how dangerous it was till you see it put proper in entrance of you, and it’s actually horrifying.” And it was not that way back. All of us grew up with that in our eyeballs each single day. It’s very nice that there’s a lot reckoning occurring and that individuals are actually type of significantly taking the dialog to coronary heart. And truly her story as an instance of how we’ve failed her and, I feel, failed loads of ladies.

Barker: It’s been refreshing to see the mea culpas from all of the media shops, however I feel in instances like this, it’s all the time essential to be conscious that there’s an urge for food with most people that creates that market. I feel you could have seen the folks [who] devour that media additionally feeling a way of accountability and a way of a have to apologize to Britney.

You launched “Britney’s Gram” in 2017 after a publish on Spears’ Instagram web page of her portray exterior. What was your aim and purpose with the podcast and the way did that shift as you began to play nearer consideration?

Grey: At that time, we have been them with a extra harmless view. We knew concerning the conservatorship, however not as in a lot element. So we might have a look at them and assume, “Oh, these are fascinating. She’s mainly posting memes that your aunt would publish on Fb, nevertheless it’s Britney Spears.” I’ve an image at a pal’s child bathe of all of us a brand new one, as a result of it was all the time a enjoyable matter of dialog.

Barker: The comedy of the podcast, we thought, would derive from us taking one thing so mundane extremely significantly. So we actually meant it to be, possibly not fairly satire, however a comedic type of take, as a result of we thought, “How ridiculous to do a deep dive on somebody’s Instagram feed.” However the New York Instances had completed a fantastic expose again in 2016, type of questioning the need of the conservatorship. And so we did begin the podcast after that article. I feel our viewers have been conscious to a sure extent of the questionable nature of the conservatorship. And I feel we didn’t understand it but, however there was a sure je ne sais quoi in these posts that drew us in. We didn’t know what we have been but, however one thing was off. And I feel that’s type of what compelled us to look at it so intently.

The podcast — not less than I’ll converse for me — felt like among the conversations I’d have mates. We’d share posts in our group chat and attempt to perceive the randomness of all of it. After which you consider the memes that will be like: “If Britney survived 2007, we will survive this.” Did you end up reflecting on, “Wait, what’s my function in all this?”

Barker: Completely. We discovered ourselves reflecting on that and yeah, like Barb stated, it was a comedy podcast, so we might be ripping and we’d be foolish. And such as you stated, we needed it to have that feeling of simply women at brunch, speaking about Britney’s Instagram. However we simply didn’t perceive the gravity of the scenario. And we weren’t absolutely versed on what conservatorships have been. We by no means would have taken that tone if we knew there have been doable human rights violations occurring.

Grey: I’ve been considering it about lots currently, as a result of individuals are like, “What do you wish to come out of this?” And it appears once you have a look at previous interviews of Britney and stuff like that — this one was particularly within the documentary the place they have been, like, “Oh, you’re a dancer otherwise you’re a singer.” And she or he’s like, “I imply, that’s my job. I’m actually a mother.” And from what I can inform from interviews and stuff, I feel that’s what she needs. And so to me, God, I want for her and for therefore many individuals, we may simply deal with them like a human being who deserves to have the ability to stroll down the road and never be hounded. Whether or not that’s by media or followers. I hope that it results in one other dialog about simply letting folks dwell their lives.

We see within the documentary the second the place issues shifted and led to the #FreeBritney motion, which is once you bought that voicemail.

Grey: The primary [time], it was, like, Tess went to a listening to by herself, and there was one different reporter there or two different reporters there. After which the primary rallies and stuff didn’t occur actually till after the voicemail. So the voicemail got here out, [and] we had a West Hollywood rally simply randomly — 20, 30 folks possibly. And it simply grew from there. I imply, I feel the primary push of it was simply that this confirmed for therefore many individuals who’ve been paying consideration — it was like, “Oh, OK, that is legit.”

And so the voicemail simply solidified this for everyone who was questioning. So should you have been already in on it, it was straightforward to be like, “OK, that is time to take motion.” That motion moved into folks attempting to inform everybody else about it and attempting to get the phrase on the market and posting that line and going to the rallies and then you definately go to the courtroom, and there’s 10 extra folks this time.

Barker: What occurred with the voicemail … I imply, we’ve been within the leisure business lengthy sufficient that, at this level, I are likely to imagine rumors that I hear going round for a very long time. I feel we realized from issues just like the Invoice Cosby scenario and the Harvey Weinstein scenario. These will not be issues that occur in a single day. These have been issues that they’re whispering about for years. And in order that’s type of felt like what occurred with the voicemail.

I feel individuals who have been listening to Britney had their suspicions and had been having these conversations for a very long time. And so I feel it simply type of galvanized folks into motion.

Have you ever ever been contacted by [Spears’ father and conservator] Jamie [Spears] or his attorneys concerning the podcast or something?

Barker: No.

Grey: No. We have been very conscious that that may be a factor that would occur. We have been scared and anticipating it for fairly some time and — knock on wooden, you realize?

There have been a number of postings on Britney’s Instagram because the documentary’s launch. What’s your tackle them?

Grey: To be trustworthy, we don’t analyze the posts as a lot as we used to, as a result of we’re type of busy actually attempting to analysis all the things else that’s occurring. So we don’t spend as a lot time nitpicking them as we used to. I believed the Tremendous Bowl one was fascinating. It nearly felt like she was trolling a bit bit in a humorous means. It’s exhausting to know, as a result of, once more, there’s a complete query of, “Does she publish these immediately? Is she the one writing these?” Individuals don’t actually know the reply to that.

Barker: I believed concerning the one with the “Poisonous” video. My tackle that was the documentary did job of actually reminding folks what an icon she is and what a formidable profession she’s had, so I believed she was type of riffing off of that and simply reminding folks like, “Guys, that is who I’m — ‘It’s Britney, bitch.’” After which possibly additionally agreeing with a part of what the documentary was saying, which is, it is a actual human right here. This isn’t simply any character. This can be a human being.

The factor I’ve been enthusiastic about is: If she will get her freedom, what subsequent? As a result of there’s no stopping the media frenzy. Is the cycle too large to be damaged?

Grey: That’s bought to be the media. They’ve bought to make that selection to depart her the f— alone. And I hope they do. And I do know that’s most likely means an excessive amount of to ask, however that’s what I hope.

Barker: When it comes to the logistics of what is going to occur to her, we’ve talked to attorneys on the ACLU and locations like that. There are loads of different choices exterior of conservatorship you can give to help somebody who may need help of their lives. So I feel that’s one thing that I’d prefer to see occur for her, if that’s one thing she needs. I hope that every one of those mea culpas from the media and from the followers, I hope that when she does get free, that does make folks pause earlier than asking her for a selfie in the event that they see her at Starbucks or asking her for an autograph in the event that they see her someplace. I hope all of this actually does sink into those that it is a individual and once you see them, they’re a stranger, similar to each different stranger you see on the market. You don’t go as much as a random individual after they’re consuming their dinner and bothering them and also you shouldn’t do it to Britney Spears.

Grey: And that’s why it’s so sophisticated, due to course there’s a complete financial system there. There’s those that wish to learn these tales, and we’re all responsible of it nonetheless. I used to be studying one thing as we speak, I caught myself studying some type of popular culture information as we speak. And I used to be like, “Oh no, that is precisely what it’s all wrapped up in.” It’s so a part of our tradition now. However I’ve been enthusiastic about that lots, about how we will attempt to encourage a change there. And it’s like “OK, effectively, you possibly can say lots, however the place’s your motion?”

So what occurs from right here with “Britney’s Gram”?

Grey: Properly, we even have been engaged on one thing for some time that we lastly introduced. We’re making a serialized investigative documentary podcast with [Stitcher’s] Witness Docs. [“Framing Britney Spears”] was actually good, nevertheless it was just the start. Mainly, there’s much more, so we’ll dive deeper into all of it.

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