Amber Tamblyn Penned an Essay Supporting Britney Spears Amid “Toxic” Fame Culture
"A reckoning was taking place, and she was lashing out against some of the same forces that I wanted to."
The #FreeBritney movement gained thousands of new supporters after The New York Times released an hour-long documentary in February called Framing Britney Spears, which detailed Spears’ paparazzi-caused downfall in the late 2000s. And after Spears appeared in court last week to finally give her heartbreaking two cents on her current conservatorship agreement, the movement has only grown stronger. Now, actress Amber Tamblyn is stepping up to the plate to support Spears and chronicle her own experiences dealing with fame, publicity, and financial success at such a young age.
Tamblyn penned an essay for The New York Times, published June 26th, titled “Britney Spears’s Raw Anger, and Mine.” She writes of young fame and success, “I can attest to how challenging this combination of factors can be to navigate, even for those with the best of intentions. I also know how much potential they have to turn toxic, and how vulnerable they can make a young woman.”
Tamblyn, who gained fame at just 11 years old in her role on General Hospital, continues, “I didn’t really identify with Ms. Spears’s music growing up, but I did identify with this newfound rage,” she says, referring to Spears’ 2007 “breakdown” when she shaved her head and attacked a paparazzi with an umbrella. “On the outside, she might have looked like a spoiled brat throwing an alcohol-induced tantrum, but I was sure that on the inside a reckoning was taking place, and she was lashing out against some of the same forces that I wanted to.”
The actress writes that, similar to Spears, her parents controlled her finances but never treated her like a “racehorse,” as Spears said her father, Jamie Spears, did. But even so, Tamblyn writes that “having my parents on payroll was damaging to our relationship, whether we understood that or not.” She continues, “Every time I had a conversation with my parents about money it felt as if I was asking for an allowance—only the allowance came from money I’d earned.”
And like Spears said during her testimony, that money she was asking for began to support an entire team of people. “As I made more and more money, the circle of those I supported opened up to include extended family members and friends. I was the one they came to for a small loan or in an emergency, the one who always picked up the check…I even bought an ex-boyfriend a new car in an attempt to break up with him; I was that used to using money to make people happy, or fix problems, or appease my guilt.”
Furthermore, Tamblyn argues that famous women’s money and bodies are almost invariably intertwined, and described how her weight was always openly discussed by both her family and Hollywood executives, who told her that staying thing was pertinent to staying relevant.
Though Tamblyn notes that her experiences are not nearly as trauma-inducing as Spears’ conservatorship has been, “I can see how easy it would have been to slip into those dynamics,” she writes. “In these situations, some kind of damage is invariably done—a stunting of the ability of an individual to grow and make the most basic of decisions, or practice good boundaries. When I finally parted professional ways with my parents, they couldn’t help but feel as if they had done something wrong. But they hadn’t. Money had.”
Tamblyn hopes that Spears’ testimony, which she calls a “profoundly radical act,” will “ripple through the bodies and bank accounts of women across industries for generations to come.”