Britney Spears: For the Record

It was a Sunday night and nothing else was on. That’s my reason for tuning into the Britney Spears doc For the Record. But once I started ...
December 1, 2008

It was a Sunday night and nothing else was on. That’s my reason for tuning into the Britney Spears doc For the Record. But once I started watching, I was mesmerized. The girl is more in touch with reality in this authorized documentary special than she seems to have been in the past year or two. I actually had a hard time connecting the girl quite coherently and contemplatively answering the questions about her troubled past with the gal that was splashed all over celebrity magazines shaving her own hair and spontaneously running into the ocean in her underwear. The dazed look is gone these days, perhaps due to her father running a tight shipas he has legal permission to control her financial and personal affairsand the doctors she says she checks in with frequently. At the same time, these are the same people Spears blames for making her feel locked in and are too in control of her life. Sometimes a gal just wants to be able to drive down the freeway with her baby son on her lap.

Speaking of control, this is definitely a vehicle to allow Spears to present herself as the anti-Britney Spears of the tabloids. Here she positions herself as a sane person just wanting to work and be with her kids in an insane, celebrity minded-world. Getting her insight into why she made some of the choices she did is also highly entertaining.
Besides the honest answers, the 90-minute doc also followed Spears as she was prepping for her ‘comeback’ (assuming the term ‘comeback’ refers to her reappearance as an entertainer, since she didn’t quite disappear altogether from the celebrity scene), working hard at choreography and music videos while also seeing just how difficult it is for Spears to do everyday things in public. Shopping with the pop star involves blankets to shield her, hordes of aggressive paparazzi and a security detail. I’m not so sure that‘s quite worth the ability to buy whatever she pleases and have a personal assistant.
Not so coincidentally, the special airs at the same time Spears’ new albumCircus, drops. I won’t be buying the album, but I am surprisingly glad to see that Spears should be holding her own for the next little while.

For more on the demystification of Britney Spears, see the October 2008 article in Esquire where writer Chuck Klosterman tries to determine whether Spears is incredibly self-aware or the savviest person he knows (be warned, the accompanying images to the Britney article are not suitable for work).

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.