#FreeBritney: Britney Spears’ Fans Think Her Life Is Not Her Own, And They’re Rallying For Her Freedom
You probably don’t need me to tell you what a huge phenomenon Britney Spears is (and in some ways continues to be) for the 90s generation. Even now, after all these years, you’ll find me humming Toxic or Womaniser lyrics absent-mindedly, and picking Baby One More Time to sing at karaoke. All through her billboard-topping music, her mental breakdowns and her resurgence, her fans have remained loyal to her, loving her, and supporting her. In fact, recently, you might’ve felt a little FOMO if you came across the #FreeBritney hashtag.
Was there some new development in her problematic conservatorship, or some tussle with her conservator father, Jamie Spears? Why the sudden resurgence of #FreeBritney movement? What do Britney’s fans want to free her from?
Here’s everything you need to know about the #FreeBritney movement.
But first, what is a conservatorship?
According to American law, a conservatorship is a kind of legal guardianship that can be arranged for people who are “significantly disabled by mental illness, elderly individuals who lack mental capacity due to medical conditions such as dementia, or individuals with developmental disabilities who lack the capacity to manage their own affairs,” as described by Wikipedia.
Why did Britney Spears need to be placed under a conservatorship?
It began with Britney Spears’ infamous breakdown in the 2000s
From 2006-2008, fans witnessed Britney engage in some erratic behaviour—From driving with her son Sean in her lap instead of in a car seat to admitting herself into rehab for a day and then shaving off her head. In 2008, she was embroiled in an ugly custody battle for her two sons with her then husband Kevin Federline, which eventually led to her losing the case and even being admitted involuntarily to a psychiatric ward.
Due to her behaviour, the court deemed it appropriate to place 26-year-old Britney under temporary conservatorship of her father, Jamie Spears, and her attorney, Andrew Wallet, before allowing her release from the hospital five days later. Eventually, in October of that year, her conservatorship was made permanent, giving her father Jamie Spears long-term control over her financial assets and business, until she made a full stable recovery. One of the LA Court officers involved in the hearing was quoted saying that this decision was necessary to safeguard Britney’s financial and personal interests since she was “susceptible to undue influence”.
Over the years, while there have been some occasional lapses, Britney Spears has managed to get her life on track, and even gained custodial visitation rights to her sons. She released more albums, went on successful tours, made cameos on shows like How I Met Your Mother, Glee and Jane The Virgin, and posed for several magazine covers.
In 2019, Britney’s attorney Wallet resigned from his co-conservatorship, leaving her father as the sole conservator of her estate.
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Birth of the #FreeBritney movement
Britney Spears is now 38. Which means for more than a decade, which is a sizeable chunk of her adult life, Spears has allegedly had no legal control over her body or any aspect of her personal or professional life. Her conservator can decide who she meets, who is a part of her life, what projects she takes on professionally, and how she spends every single penny. Even her lawyer, should she need representation, would be appointed as per her conservator’s wishes.
In 2018, Britney was all set to begin her second residency concert in Las Vegas, which would’ve made her the highest paid performer on the Vegas strip. However, in January 2019, it was eventually cancelled citing her father’s fatal health emergency. Consequently, Britney admitted herself into a psychiatric facility to deal with the stress of this incident.
Her fans were not convinced. In April 2019, an anonymous whistleblower on a podcast called Britney Gram revealed that Britney was allegedly being held in the psychiatric facility against her will. The source further cited the reason for this being that Britney’s father noticed she wasn’t taken her medication. She had also gone driving with her boyfriend, Sam Asgrahi, which violated rules of the conservatorship, allegedly forcing her father to push for the facility.
It was reported that Britney Spears checked herself into a mental facility at the end of March. We have information that that might not be true. Please listen to this and spread this far and wide. https://t.co/tK8657e3ZF pic.twitter.com/SLomsNwSj0
— Britney's Gram (@BritneysGram) April 16, 2019
As per the whistleblower’s explanation, Britney had gotten her life in order, was recording her albums, doing her tours, and was pretty stable to fall in the category of people who would need such a strict conservatorship. Moreover, they also said the the singer was reportedly in talks with her father and legal team about terminating the conservatorship. It’s noteworthy that Spears, roughly pays upward of $1.1 Million dollars annually as fees to her father and lawyer to keep up the conservatorship.
The podcast managed to rile up Britney fans who since a long time were rallying for the ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’ singer’s emancipation. And thus, #FreeBritney movement was born.
It garnered quite the momentum, with celebrities like Cher, Tinashe, Rose McGowan, Paris Hilton, Mario Lopez and others offering support to the movement. Even Spears’ mother, Lynn Spears, liked a comment on one of her posts where a fan talked about Spears being kept in the psych ward against her will.
— Jeffree Star (@JeffreeStar) September 18, 2019
However, Britney Spears temporarily managed to put rumours to rest when she posted a video asking people to not believe in rumours. Her boyfriend Sam Asgrahi and her sister, Jamie Lynn Spears also posted on their social media, assuring fans that Britney was fine and would be back soon.
So why is #FreeBritney back?
During the coronavirus prompted lockdown, Britney Spears has been posting frequently on her Instagram. Some fans now believe that the ‘Womaniser’ singer is trying to send coded messages through these posts about how she feels trapped. There are many who also believe that Britney’s songs for years now have hinted at her alleged loneliness in her controlled existence.
— 👑 #FREEBRITNEY #BLACKLIVESMATTER (@touchofpisces) July 8, 2020
— FreeBritney.net (@FreeBritney_net) July 6, 2020
The comments on some of her latest posts have been fans trying to decode ‘signs’ that Britney is trying to send.
Recently, fashion watchdog account Diet Prada shared a post on #FreeBritney, explaining what exactly the movement is all about and how Spears’ mother liking #FreeBritney posts is further proof that the singer is indeed trapped. In addition, the fact that Britney has a hearing this month that will decide the fate of her conservatorship could’ve been the catalyst that is bringing her fans together to demand that she be free of her father.
Whether true or not, this is one crazy story
When it comes to celebrity lives, it is always hard to say where the lies end and the truth begins. Her fans can dissect her social media posts and paparazzi photos all they want, but that’s hardly the tip of the iceberg. If what is being said about Britney’s confined existence is true, then this is a horrible exploitation of the troubled singer’s freedom. It would be unfathomable, understanding what this would’ve put her through. However, if she indeed is troubled enough to need continued guardianship from her father, perhaps there is a better way of conveying this to her fans so they can stop the speculation.