World-renowned pop star Britney Spears hasn't been in control of her life for a long time. And her fans are not sitting idly by it any more. Free Britney is more than just a movement; it is a joint effort by Britney's fans who want her to take back her power. Her long-time fans are speaking out against the conservatorship that the 38 years old megastar is subjected to.
It is time for Britney to be free of any and all restrictions, and this is all you need to know about Free Britney!
For nearly half of Britney Spears’ decades of a career as a world-renowned pop star, the singer has not been in full control of her life. Britney has been in the care of her father, Jamie Spears, since the singer’s widely covered and media anointed “breakdown” 12 years ago, which led to her hospitalisation and rehabilitation.
But her father’s control over health, wealth, and almost every other aspect of Britney’s life has rendered her life like that of a prison in an open world. The issue is heating up even more as the latest New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears gives a glimpse of the music industry and Spear’s legal battles up-close.
Britney Spear - A Story of Struggles With Mental Health
The pop star was at the height of her career when she first began to behave “unbecomingly” in 2007 after her separation from Kevin Federline. She even lost custody of her two children and was under constant media scrutiny.
Her mental health deteriorated after intense public intervention in her personal life. Her alleged breakdown took place in the public eye when she shaved her head and was photographed for hitting a paparazzi car with an umbrella.
Following the 2007 incident, Britney was taken to rehab facilities – several times without her consent. She was placed under psychiatric inspection after refusing to surrender her sons to the police.
When Britney Lost Control of Her Life
She was placed under the “temporary conservatorship” of her father in early 2008. She was believed to have mental health issues such as postpartum depression as she delivered her two sons in less than two years.
While the stigma surrounding Spears’ mental health battles followed her around, her career never stopped. Marking an official comeback with the Circus album in 2008, Britney released albums, toured, performed in a Las Vegas for a year, and launched entrepreneurial ventures, including her lucrative fragrances and lingerie brand.
Growth of Free Britney Movement
When Spears checked her into a mental health centre in 2019 due to her alleged emotional distress, the Free Britney Movement gained momentum. The fans even asked the White House to end her conservatorship, submitting petitions with thousands of signatures.
The grassroots movement started in 2008 took a wide turn in 2019 when Britney cancelled her Las Vegas residency. Fans worried as they found clues in her Instagram videos of her asking for ‘help’. Her lawyers have stated that she was afraid of her father’ and would not want to resume her career if he controlled it.
Britney hasn’t released an official statement about the campaign, but she has posted about doing well and not to believe everything they hear or read after her 2019 stay at the mental health centre. The fans were concerned when it was hinted in some of her photos that she needed help, such as ‘wearing a yellow shirt’, or ‘blinking twice’.
What is Conservatorship?
According to a California Court website, a conservatorship is when a judge appoints an individual or organisation to care for another adult when deemed unfit to care for themselves and their finances.
The American pop star has been in the hands of a legal guardianship arrangement since she suffered a mental health crisis 12 years ago. Her father, Jamie Spears, took control over her finances and health care altogether. She had no control over the smallest of decisions she could make in her life.
A Los Angeles court’s judge ruled that the Bessemer Trust is a co-conservator of the singer’s previous hearing. Mr Spears protested as it reduced his powers. He wanted to keep the prior level of control over his daughter’s finances – the judge refused.
Free Britney and Legal Challenges
Outside the court, a handful of fans were vocal about the Free Britney campaign. They wanted her to be free from the conservatorship. The fans believe she was coerced into his arrangement, and she has been noticing the clues of her pleading for help on social media.
According to Business Insider, Spears has a net worth of $59M, citing her financial documents in 2018. In 2019, her lawyers demanded the legal bid to remove her father as a conservator. This was not a surprise for her fans. They made theories, Tik Tok videos and podcasts on how Britney was a prisoner in her own home.
Britney's Mental and Physical Health Struggles
Britney was hospitalised and put in rehab at a time when there was a stigma about mental health issues in public life. Her “erratic” behaviour because of her mental health battles put her under a ‘5150 hold’ in a psychiatric hospital.
Everyone remembers her shaving her head and threatening a paparazzi, but no one understood that she was going through a lot. Following this, Jamie was given legal power to oversee Britney’s personal and professional life till 2019.
Free Britney from this TOXIC situation
The fans were concerned about Britney and launched FreeBritney.net in 2009. They believed that she does not need a conservatorship in her life. As long as the conservatorship prevails, Britney can not make enter contracts as her self. She needs permission for everything.
Britney recently filed documents to request parts of conservatorship be open to the public. She appreciated her fans for supporting her and indirectly support the Free Britney movement.
The conservatorship is extended till this year, and the verdict would be heard on March 17, 2021. She cannot permanently remove her father from his role till February 2021. Her mother supports her decision to get back control of her life.
Celebrities Speak Out For Free Britney
Britney’s brother, Bryan Spears, briefly spoke about how frustrated Britney was with the conservatorship. Jamie Lynn Spears, her younger sister, shut down the hate she was receiving for not helping Britney with her mental health struggles.
She took to Instagram, saying, “[People] have no right to presume anything about my sister, and I have NO right to voice anything about HER health and personal matters. She is a strong, badass, unstoppable is the only OBVIOUS thing.”
Paris Hilton, Britney’s long-time friend, spoke about her conservatorship, stating how she knows what it feels like to have no control over your own life.
Britney is opposed to having her father being the sole conservator of her life. She has voiced out that Jodi Montgomery would run her conservatorship instead. Her lawyer wishes that she eventually have the power and autonomy to live her life without being controlled by anybody.
Framing Britney Spears - Documentary's Highlights
The Times documentary has many scenes of Britney being swarmed by the paparazzi and fans. There is a brief scene where Britney speaks out to MTV and says, “If I wasn’t under the restraints I’m under right now, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analysing me every day — if that weren’t there, I’d feel so liberated.”
When we watch the documentary, we learn a lot about Britney behind-the-scenes. She has faced misogyny and sexism from the tender age of ten. We can see how much the paparazzi harassed her to the point she snapped. One such incident was when a celebrity boasted how he hounded Spears till she lashed out on him.
The critical point of the documentary is the conservatorship, which began in 2008. Her father, Jamie, is (rightly) portrayed as the greedy villain ruining Britney’s mental well-being.
Justin Timberlake- who dated Britney from 1992 to-2002 comes off like a misogynistic boyfriend. He publicly issued an apology on February 12 this year to Britney and wished her well by making amends.
Her story makes us think that in Britney’s case, what we have seen over the years is a façade. Behind is a woman who has faced injustice and abuse of power.
While we have learned to treat mental health kindly and clinically, the fact is that Britney is still under scrutiny by the media shows that we are not free from the toxic paparazzi culture, which worsens mental health issues.