"No conversation was censored. No topic was off limits."
Those words set the table for Britney: For the Record, the documentary airing exclusively on MTV and Logo Sunday, Nov. 30. Based on the first 30 minutes (screened for reporters on Thursday), those attests would seem to be true.
What starts out with a folksy "day in the life" moment — dad Jamie prepares for Britney some cheese grits, which he dubs the "breakfast of champions" for Southern girls — soon segues into a series of candid close-up chats with the rollercoaster-riding pop star.
From the start, no punches are pulled. Asked point blank if she "knows" that her life is "weird," Britney shakes her head and responds, "It's all I've ever known. I don't see it as being weird."
"I've been through a lot the past two to three years," she goes on to say. And during that testing time, she admits, "I totally lost my way. I lost my focus. I lost myself."
Spears points some fingers at outsiders ("I let people in my life who were bad for me," she says, "and I paid the consequences") as well as the oppressive media. Punctuated by footage of the paparazzi making it impossible for her to do some shopping, Spears likens her world to a prison — except that "when you go to jail, there's a time when you get out."
In many of the sit-down segments, Spears appears numbed by her recent travails, and anxious to reclaim some normality. "I don't feel like [my life] is out of control; it's too in control," she observes, likening its repetitiveness to the movie Groundhog Day. The unregulated unpredictability of a regular person's life is what she covets.
Though Spears often is in the company of personal assistants, dance coaches and such, she wonders aloud if anyone in her inner circle actually listens to her as she lets slip expressions of unhappiness and anxiety. And yet she accepts that sense of helplessness for what it is. "It's better not to feel anything at all and have hope than to feel the other way," she says before being overcome by tears. Wiping them away, she confesses with a whisper, "I'm sad."
In these first 30 minutes, a picture is painted of a Britney who, yes, sought the spotlight, but now has come to realize the price she has paid for her celebrated successes (and just-as-public failures). Yet each admission and every lament comes across not as a complaint, but as a documented cry for help. Still, she knows to keep her woes in check. After all, she says, "There are people out there who have it a lot worse than I do."