If Everyone's Worried About Freeing Britney, Why Are We Creating A New One In Addison Rae?

Photo: YouTube
Britney Spears Toxic video side by side with Addison Rae's Obsessed video

With nearly 700 million monthly users, TikTok has absolutely exploded. And it's creating a new generation of celebrities who have gained notoriety on the app.

One of the biggest names to come out of TikTok so far has been Addison Rae Easterling, a 20-year-old from Louisiana who has already garnered over 79 million followers on the platform.

And now that Addison Rae is beginning to branch out into more mainstream forms of entertainment, she's drawing comparisons to another star from Louisiana who got an early start on her music career — Britney Spears.

Of course, being compared to someone as iconic as Spears is a serious compliment, but in Rae's case, it could also mean something different — and somewhat disturbing.

After all, if we're all so worried about the #FreeBritney movement, why are we so eager to find a new Spears in Addison Rae?

At this point, it seems like the TikToker being packaged in a way that feels eerily similar to how Spears was positioned at the beginning of her career.

Given what Spears has gone through and the massive movement to "free" her from the clutches and limitations of her conservatorship, it's at the very least questionable, if not deeply concerning, that we seem to crave another version of the tragic teen pop star — one who might have to be "freed" herself in the future.

Is there something different about Rae, or are we repeating history, having learned nothing from it?

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As we've seen in the past with TikTokers like Charli D'Amelio, gaining fame on TikTok can translate into getting real-life agency representation and entertainment deals outside of the app, too. Since Addison Rae already has a massive and proven fan base, it's no surprise that she's been able to expand so quickly.

In March 2021, Rae released her debut single, "Obsessed," a song all about self-love. Much like many of Spears's early singles, it's upbeat, poppy, and catchy.

And also like Spears, the music video involves sharply sexy choreography, backup dancers, and a lot of risqué outfits, evoking "...Baby One More Time" and "I'm A Slave 4 U" vibes.

It's not just music that Rae is jumping headfirst into, either. She's also slated to star in Netflix's He's All That, a gender-swapped remake of the '90s hit, She's All That.

This could be the beginning of something truly huge for Rae at such a young age, but it's a very real concern that her career might be over before it's gotten a full chance to begin.

After Rae performed "Obsessed" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, it became clear that she's emulating Spears in an intentional way. Everything from her wardrobe to the choreography to the blonde hair screamed Spears, and of course, fans picked up on that.

Backup dancers like those featured in Britney's videos and performances joined her on stage, and her tummy-bearing top looked like something Spears easily would have worn 20 years ago.

Even her recent TikTok videos make Rae look like Crossroads-era Spears. It's uncanny.

The Britney Spears comparisons are constant — and Addison Rae has admitted to being inspired by the pop singer.

Talking to Vogue, she said, "When I was young, [my mom] was always listening to music from the '90s and 2000s, so I was incredibly influenced by that. Beyoncé, J.Lo, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, there are so many artists and songwriters who inspire me. There is such an emotional connection people have to their songs; they change people.”

It's hard not to believe Addison Rae is intentionally being marketed as a new Britney Spears.

While most of Rae's TikTok account is just her being her, now that she's going for a bigger career, she's not the only one in charge of things like styling herself and deciding how her music videos and performances will look.

She's been professionally managed by WME since January 2020, an agency that represents huge stars like Jennifer Garner and Jude Law, so there's no doubt that the people who are working with her in the background know what they're doing.

For as long as there have been women in the entertainment industry, there have been expectations that they look and dress a certain way — that's nothing new.

But the fact that whoever Rae is working with seems to be following the Britney Spears playbook is definitely concerning.

It's hard to argue with the fact that Spears found massive success over the course of her long career, including millions of album sales, sold-out tours, and Las Vegas residencies. But is her career the best one to model Rae's after?

The timing of Addison Rae's mainstream debut amid the public conversations surrounding Britney Spears is concerning.

Though the #FreeBritney movement has been around for years now, it's been making headlines all over again after the release of the Framing Britney Spears documentary and Spears' recent return to court in her conservatorship battle.

RELATED: Republicans Urge Congress To Free Britney Spears — Has The Movement Gone Too Far?

Spears herself has said in the caption of a post on her Instagram account that she was "cried for two weeks" and was "embarrassed by the light they put me in."

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The documentary offers a bleak take on the way we treat women in entertainment, and there have been calls for that to end for a long while now.

And yet, here we are, building up young stars like Rae to follow in footsteps that could lead to her suffering a similar fate.

As Rae begins to create a bigger career for herself, she's already up against a good deal of criticism.

On multiple occasions, Rae has been accused of "blackfishing" and neglecting to credit the Black creators responsible for choreographing the dances she's gone viral for, particularly during her recent appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Rae told TMZ that she loves and supports the Black creators she borrows from, but that's not enough to dig her out of the hole she's gotten herself into, and the same people who seem to be pulling the strings behind her music career don't seem to be offering her any kind of guidance about how to approach situations like this and issue apologies and change her behavior in a way that really matters.

Are we setting another young woman to fail like we did Britney Spears?

As we watch the media and the music industry repeat the same mistakes they made with Britney Spears, it's easy to feel cynical, even so early in Rae's career.

How can we be angry about people like Diane Sawyer questioning a young Spears about her sexuality on television or the people in her life who weren't looking out for her when she was struggling the most and, at the same time, cheer Rae on as she is made to fit into the Spears mold?

Rae obviously has talent, and she's intelligent enough to have built her own following on an app from the ground up at such a young age.

At this point, it seems like people aren't giving her credit for that — or properly guiding her in her decisions and her career — and it could end up having heartbreaking consequences.

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Nicole Pomarico is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in Cosmo, Us Weekly, Refinery29, and more.