The Martha Mitchell Effect Legacy As It Relates to Free Britney
I just discovered that Comedy Central show “Drunk History” recommended to me on YouTube, and was taken to this episode that made me think “that’s what they did to Britney!” The episode in question is about a lady named Martha Mitchell who apparently was going to be the whistleblower for the Watergate Scandal.
You probably know where this story is going to go (making everyone think she’s crazy to discredit her and silence her). And get this: her husband had her held hostage in a hotel room for over a week to keep her from leaking to the press about the Watergate break-in! Talk about a Free Martha moment!
Here is the link to the video in case Gutenberg is acting funny with the YouTube embed code: - Drunk History: Martha “The Mouth” Mitchell Makes an Enemy of Nixon (feat. Vanessa Bayer)
Vanessa Bayer (of Office Christmas Party and SNL fame) played Martha Mitchell in this episode, called “Whistleblowers” (original airdate: July 16, 2019).
What Is The Martha Mitchell Effect?
In taking an interest in Mitchell, I learned that psychologists used her name to label a situation where someone is misattributed as crazy or mentally ill, when in fact they are not. Here’s a snippet from Wikipedia that gives a quick definition of the term along with background:
Psychologist Brendan Maher named the effect after Martha Mitchell. Mitchell was the wife of John Mitchell, United States Attorney General in the Nixon administration. When she alleged that White House officials were engaged in illegal activities, her claims were attributed to mental illness. Ultimately, however, the facts of the Watergate scandal vindicated her and garnered her the label “The Cassandra of Watergate”.Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Mitchell_effect
Resurgence Of Interest In Martha Mitchell
And if the universe weren’t screaming any louder, I now have just learned that Netflix released a documentary 2 months ago, titled The Martha Mitchell Effect! and Starz released a series this year too, starring Julia Roberts as Martha called: Gaslit.
You’ll find the end of the clip from Drunk History particularly interesting. At Martha’s funeral, there was a big flower display that spelled out in flowers: Martha Was Right—very much echoing the signs at the many Free Britney marches all of last year. 😊
I couldn’t help but also be reminded of Project Rose 🌹, a project Britney has been teasing on her Instagram for about 2 years. Flowers are a common metaphor to characterize females in literature, song, and nicknames, but the similarities in experience that these two women share really got me hooked to write this, and get out these ideas. Also, I don’t know if anyone has mentioned their connection in the news or other publications and media.
For you Britney fans reading this, I think I’ll work on an article to try and decode what this Project Rose could be about. E-mail with any ideas you wish to share.
In many ways the Free Britney movement could be called the Watergate of our times. Heartbreaking that this kind of mistreatment of a woman repeated in our era, but this cycle the ending was happier.