It’s been a few months since the Framing Britney Spears Hulu documentary premiered on February 5. Since then, everyone’s formed an opinion about it — including Spears’ celebrity peers. From Sam Smith and Miley Cyrus to Kacey Musgraves and Charlie Puth, numerous stars have expressed their support for Spears in her conservatorship battle and mental health journey. But the documentary also sparked a greater conversation about misogyny. Recently, Reese Witherspoon’s quotes about Framing Britney Spears go in on how unfairly the media treated female celebrities back in the '90s.
Witherspoon is way too familiar with how brutally the media portrayed famous women in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. At that time, the now-45-year-old actor was dominating the silver screen with lead roles in Cruel Intentions and the first two Legally Blonde movies. But, with newfound fame, Witherspoon was unfortunately a regular target for tabloid gossip and overbearing paparazzi — just like Spears.
In an April 27 interview with Time magazine, Witherspoon revealed what she thinks about the media’s role in framing certain young, female stars as innocent and others as wild. “What if the media had decided I was something else? I would be in a totally different position,” she said.
Witherspoon admitted women like herself and real-life friend (and 13 Going on 30 leading lady) Jennifer Garner were lucky to have been framed as “good.” But she also made it clear other women like Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or Paris Hilton — stars who were framed as “bad” or reckless — were all affected by how media painted them out to be, instead of who they really were. (Hilton is another celebrity who has reflected on the Framing Britney Spears doc; on an episode of her This is Paris podcast, she too acknowledged tabloids were “cruel” and misogynistic to people like her and Spears.)
“I want to say [the media portrayed me in a positive light because of] my decisions or the career choices I made, but it felt very arbitrary,” Witherspoon told Time.
The Big Little Lies actor admitted that despite having her fair share of moments yelling at the paparazzi, she was rarely scrutinized as much as “bad” female stars. There was also a contrast in how tabloids reported on Witherspoon’s divorce in comparison to other stars’, like Spears. While media coverage of Spears’ 2006 separation from Kevin Federline framed Spears as antagonistic, Witherspoon received far less hate after her 2008 divorce from Ryan Philipe. She described this general double-standard as “kind of sh*tty,” and I think that’s pretty well put.
It’s great to know so many female celebs watched Framing Britney Spears and empathize with the pop legend. When Spears’ conservatorship case comes to a close, let’s hope everyone continues having important conversations about mental health and sexism in Hollywood.