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Extremely Online: Misogyny, Celebrity And The Internet

US singer Britney Spears arrives for the premiere of Sony Pictures' "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California.
US singer Britney Spears arrives for the premiere of Sony Pictures' "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California.

The documentary “Framing Britney Spears” has sparked conversations about the pop star’s legacy and the control that women in entertainment have over their image and their privacy. Reactions haven’t just been limited to fans and viewers, celebrities are speaking out on the subject.

In a recent interview, actress Drew Barrymore spoke about the difficulty for young women to retain complete control of their lives after growing up in the spotlight. Public outcry caused singer Justin Timberlake to release an apology commenting on his treatment of Spears and Janet Jackson, with whom he performed at the Super Bowl in 2004. Timberlake was promptly mocked online and on television for making that apology “20 years late.”

Find our conversation about Spears and her conservatorship here.

Quoting a source close to the singer, Page Six reported that Spears has seen the documentary:

“There are parts of the film that were too hard and emotional for her to watch—the scenes that describe the most difficult times of her life, the relentless media circus and the harsh focus on her as a young mother. But, she feels, for the first time in many years, that people are on her side and things will get better for her,” said the source. “She hopes that, because of this, she will be finally be freed from the vice-like grip of her father [Jamie Spears]. She is also very grateful and humbled by the public outcry, all the support from her fans and the celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker who have spoken out on her behalf.”

And one person who has experienced the glare of public shame is Rebecca Black. Critics and commenters alike slammed her for her song “Friday,” which came out in 2013. Nylon described the reaction to the song, and what Black was subsequently exposed to, as the “some of the darkest parts and effects of living online.”

But now, Black is taking control of her image back. Here’s her latest single “Girlfriend.” Have a listen.

As we reconsider the treatment of Britney Spears and other women celebrities in the 2000s and 1990s, how far have we really come? And how has the advent of celebrities on social media changed how we talk about them? We talk about those questions and more with Rebecca Black, Mikki Kendall and Constance Grady.

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