'Leave Britney Alone': The creator behind the 2007 viral video reflects on why people ignored them

'Leave Britney Alone': The creator behind the 2007 viral video reflects on why people ignored them
Chris Crocker (left) and Britney Spears (right)Chris Crocker/Instagram (left) and Isaac Brekken/Getty Images (right)
  • Chris Crocker, the creator of the "Leave Britney Alone" video, spoke to Insider about Free Britney.
  • "I was defending her as a person, not a pop star," Crocker said of their Britney Spears video.
  • Crocker said they believed homophobia and transphobia played a role in the video's reception.

When Chris Crocker's viral "Leave Britney Alone" video was released in 2007, Britney Spears appeared to be having a personal crisis, which at the time was recorded by aggressive paparazzi and an eager tabloid press. Crocker's plea - to think of Spears as a human first - is widely credited as one of the first (and most famous) viral videos on YouTube, though it was frequently mocked and parodied.

It has since emerged as a battle cry of sorts for the Free Britney movement, as Spears remains in a court-ordered conservatorship that began around the time of Crocker's video.

Spears' conservatorship has been re-examined with fresh eyes after The New York Times released its "Framing Britney Spears" documentary on Hulu in February.

Crocker, who spoke with Insider after the recent sale of their "Leave Britney Alone" video as an NFT, or non-fungible token, for over $41,000 said that though the Free Britney movement is gaining traction and becoming more mainstream now, their initial video with the same message was at least partially dismissed due to transphobia and homophobia.

"Because it was such a different time, no one could understand why I would make that and be sincere," Crocker, who is transgender and uses "they" and "them" pronouns, told Insider. "I was just defending her as a person, not a pop star and I just wanted her to be happy, that's all."


They posted a statement on Instagram following the documentary's release and said that people crediting them with being ahead of the curve on supporting Spears doesn't feel as satisfying as some might assume.

"Maybe people reaching out to tell me, 'Chris, you were right,' would feel good, if I knew that people could unpack that the reason no one took me seriously was because I was a gender-bending teenager and the reaction to me was transphobic," they said in the post's caption.

A post shared by Chris Crocker (@itschriscrocker)

The 33-year-old content creator told Insider that the same year they made the "Leave Britney Alone" video, their mom had returned from Iraq with severe PTSD and became addicted to meth. Their mom didn't raise them, they told Insider, but they still cared for her and fought to get their mom back on her feet.

Crocker said they felt protective of Spears because they watched their own mother struggle with mental health issues.

"There was this weird parallel because I was just going through that with my mom, so I was very defensive over any woman I cared about that was going through a tough time," Crocker said.


When asked how it felt to be among the first people to start the conversation surrounding Spears and her mental health, Crocker emphasized the importance of these issues being taken seriously by the public at large.

"It's more like I'm happy that like as a whole, people are talking more about mental health and how we treat people in the public eye, especially because we think they deserve it, when they don't."