What Britney Spears and Billie Eilish have in common. And, more to the point, – what makes them different.
Two female Pop icons are dominating social media trends:
Gen Z icon Billie Eilish and 90s pop icon Britney Spears
They are both trying to own their story like everyone else on the planet. And – like very few people on the earth – they are very influential rockstars under the current threat of their stories being framed by the public opinion. By the music industry. By their parents.
Trying to own their narratives and handle the bad yellow press and the sometimes equally bad passive-aggressive woke press.
Britney Spears stated in a rare and long-awaited public appearance in court that she wants her life back. She shared an impassioned speech about her treatment under the conservatorship that controls her life, telling the judge she would like it to end.
Billie Eilish is handling a ridiculous shitstorm caused by a joke she made as a 13- year-old child. She is taking it with grace, and the yellow press will not be able to eat her alive simply because it is 2021.
At least if we believe what Berlin-based writer and pop music expert Fabian Soethof thinks about it. He dug deep into the facts and very diligently commented on what Britney Spears and Billie Elish have in common but most of all what they don’t have in common.
Soethof writes: “Generation Z Icon Billie Eilish has more tools to be self-determined and therefore Billie Eilish is not endangered to be destructed by the yellow press. Generation Z is generally regarded as woke, enlightened, mature, media-savvy, and equipped with a healthy urge to improve things. Body positivity instead of body shaming, vegan food instead of McDonald’s, Fridays for Future instead of Fridays for Hubraum. Instagram instead of Yellow Press. So if Billie Eilish should ever be criticized for her appearance, unfortunate statements, or desire for privacy, her millions of followers stand behind her as a corrective.
But when Britney Spears was increasingly paraded in public by gossip magazines in the noughties, she would have had to have a very stable private environment to let all the accusations and criticism about her alleged misconduct bounce off her. Not least because of the documentary “Framing Britney Spears” and men criticized in it like Timberlake (“Yes, I slept with her”), her all-business-grabbing father, the father of her children Kevin Federline and sleazy-dubious new wannabe managers we know. She lacked such an environment. Furthermore, the older ones will remember: At that time, it was considered very socially acceptable to jump on the joke train about Britney Spears. This was not only done by various media but also by all of us in private. Who doesn’t know sayings on mugs or T-shirts like: “If you have a bad day, remember: Britney Spears survived 2007.” Sure, it’s meant to be funny and motivating. But it also indirectly makes fun of those affected by mental health problems and plays them down. It’s good that such sayings don’t go unchallenged in the social media age.”
“If Britney Spears wanted to be in the media, she had to talk to them. And when she did talk to them, there was a great risk that she would have her words twisted around in their mouths or be pushed into a certain corner. Framing Britney Spears” also tells of this framing and the impossibility of doing the “right thing,” and shows as evidence interview excerpts that are shameful and not for Britney Spears. Had Britney Spears decided (or been able to determine) not to talk to specific magazines and TV networks, it would have seen just as negatively against her. The tabloids needed headlines. They found them in Britney Spears‘ private life. And if she didn’t find any, she provoked them, for example, by assaulting paparazzi, who to this day are not too stupid to say on camera that they were doing their job.”
When owning your narratives, there is no such thing as a blueprint. The popstar examples are certainly the most radical to give, and we cannot draw 1:1 conclusions from this when it comes to framing our narratives. We are not in the spotlight.
But the popstar examples show very well how powerful it is when someone owns their story. It takes a lot of work. But it´s worth it