Let me preface this by saying I am no Wendy Williams Fan. As a 48 year old woman, who was NY in the 90’s, I was exposed to Wendy Williams antics. Most of her current fan base is from her show, may not really know of her radio days. Wendy had a polarizing effect, either you loved her or hated her. In the 90’s Wendy Williams provided gossip for the Black celebrities. Sometimes it felt like she was just making shit up.
Love or hate her, Wendy was really deliberate in her career choices. Last weekend, Lifetime Network broadcasted the Wendy Williams movie and documentary. Let me say, I am not hear to critique a Lifetime movie. You know what you’re going to get from that network. I wasn’t even going to watch the movie but the following day social media was a buzzing about the movie and documentary, so I felt obligated to consume her life story to share my opinion.
Originally I was going to spend way too much time talking about the Wendy Williams movie, when I heard that news series New York Times Presents did a story on Britney Spears. Then all of sudden everyone was talking about Britney. Intrigued with the idea of framing the narrative, I checked out the story. Okay, remember I would have been in my mid 20’s when she came blazing onto the pop music charts and would not have been her targeted audience, but if you had a pulse, you would have heard her song “…Baby One More Time”. I admit to knowing she was on the Micky Mouse Club, dated Justin Timberlake, and she went crazy shaving her head and somewhere in all of that she had some kids.
Both these television events humanized their subjects, only difference Britney did not have a direct hand in her documentary and Wendy pretty much produced hers. But both had people looking back at these women and decided that in hind site maybe they were judged harshly and had they been men they would have been treated differently. Wendy clearly suffered from something that caused her to surgically change her body and remain in a marriage where she was not appreciated or celebrated. Britany was sexualized at a young age, talents dismissed as the industry machine controlling her and when she had a psychotic break, tabloids went after her like sharks in a blood filled ocean. Seeing their stories with some context, it was hard not soften the judgmental gaze I once held.
With all that said, I felt emotionally manipulated watching the Wendy Williams movie and the documentary. Nothing felt dishonest, it just felt VERY selective. It also did not appear that she played no role in the demise of her marriage. Everything appeared one sided. She was this successful woman who had a ton a cosmetic surgery and clearly had a ton of insecurities, but she married a man that wasn’t ingeminated by her success, but meanwhile in the background helping her career in a very controlled way. In the end, I was over it. It did not want me wanting to know more about Wendy Williams nor did I want seek out her book.
In Framing Britney Spears, maybe I was more open to receiving the information because I trust the series The New York Times Presents, the series borrows the journalistic integrity of The New York Times. They told a story with the agenda of exploring if Britney Spears should be still under a conservatorship managed by her father and if society played a role in her emotional instability.
Then I am going to ask myself this last questions… Was the Britney Spears documentary also emotional manipulation? Did they take her image of fresh face white girl who was dragged through the music industry and destroyed because no one had her best interest in heart? At any point am I not suppose to expect her to take responsibility for the position she found herself in.
Both women are strong, talented and have reaped the benefits of having amazing careers. They both are deserving of having their entire stories put out there and people see them as the women who they are and not the manufactured images pushed out in the media. Which is the point of this post. Live long enough, be successful enough to control your narrative. Wendy Williams was able to manufacture a story about her health issues, her soberly, infernality, and her perfect child. She seemed to hold back just enough to not to appear as someone who slept around, over indulge in drugs and was able to stop cold turkey in a day, and be able to be a successful mother with an amazing career and only thing she lost was her marriage. And Britany is more then a sexualized teenager who grew up to be a crazed woman who couldn’t handle success.