It wasn’t until the release of Framing Britney in the February of 2021 when people understood the true seriousness of her conservatorship. And it wasn’t until then that the world realized, Free Britney Movement is not just an irrelevant movement started by Social Justice Warriors on their next conquest. It is a pressing issue that questions the rights and freedom of a 40-year-old woman, a mother, and a pop star.
Rise to Fame
Britney rose to stardom in 1999 with the release of the iconic song “…Baby One More Time” The song charted Number 1 in several countries and earned her first Grammy. The album not only brought her fame and recognition but also cemented her as a prominent artist in the industry. Followed by the infamous record “Oops!.. I Did It Again“, Britney is a force to be reckoned with.
Where it all began
All this fame, however, had its consequences. In a time when the paparazzi were rampant and had no distinct boundaries, Britney was a victim of their harassment. This lead to a very public and heavily documented spiraling of Britney’s mental health. She was subject to scrutiny from the media, the tabloids, and the general public. After a series of public meltdowns following her divorce from her ex-husband Kevin Federline, Britney was placed under the conservatorship of her father Jamie Spears in 2008.
What is a conservatorship?
This is probably the first time most of us have come across such a phenomenon. A conservatorship is when a judge appoints a responsible person or an organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for themselves or manage their finances. It is usually employed when the conservatee is old, has ailments like dementia, or is physically limited, with the primary goal to keep them safe and from harm’s way.
But in the case of Britney, she was extremely active and productive throughout her conservatorship. She put out multiple albums, sold-out tours, and was also the judge at X-Factor. Britney’s conservatorship never had a finite end. Year after year, the conservatorship was extended and before you know it, it’s been 13 long years.
Free Britney Movement
Under the conservatorship, Britney continued to push out hits, appear in variety shows, and also sell-out concerts. On January 4, 2019, Britney announced an indefinite hiatus stating her father’s declining health as a reason. In April, Britney Gram, a fan podcast, shared a voicemail recording. The source claimed to be a former member of Britney’s Legal team. The recordings alleged that Jamie canceled her residency tours as a result of Britney’s refusal to take her prescribed medications. They also claimed that she was being held at a facility against her will and the fact that the conservatorship should’ve ended in 2009.
This sparked outrage from not only her fans but also other celebs and the general public. There were also instances when the fans believed Britney was trying to communicate with them indirectly on social media. There was this one particular instance where she appeared to have responded to comments asking her to do things like wear a yellow outfit in her next post if she needed help. This was the resurgence of the Free Britney Movement.
The Turning Point
Following the protests outside the city hall, Judge Brenda Penny ordered a professional evaluation of the conservatorship in May 2019. It was then that Britney realized she can petition to have the conservatorship removed as a conservatee. With the help of a court-appointed lawyer, Britney requested the court to alter the arrangements of her conservatorship on 17th August 2020.
There was also the release of the documentary, Framing Britney Spears. The fans and Britney herself found the documentary distasteful but it did help bring the matter to the general public.
On June 23, 2021, a recording of Britney’s statement in the presence of her judge was all over the internet. In it, Britney explicitly stated that her conservatorship was abusive and that her father controlled every aspect of her life. She also mentioned how she was forced to take medications she did not consent to. The most jarring revelation was that she has no autonomy over her body. Britney has an IUD inserted against her wishes and is also not allowed to marry or gestate. She testified that her conservatorship prohibits her from living her full life and wishes for it to end soon.
While Britney’s request to remove her father as co-conservator was denied, She has gained the chance to hire a lawyer of her own as opposed to a court-appointed one. Following the hearing, her manager of 25 years, Larry Rudolph, has resigned stating that she no longer wishes to perform.
The gravity of this case and why it is relevant
People would wonder why this battle of power between a pop star and her father is making headlines. While that is a relevant train of thought, the issue is much greater than just that. Britney is a popular figure all over the world. She’s an icon who many young people look up to. Her songs, videos, and her shows are integral to pop culture even to this day. This is why it surprises us that a woman of so much caliber and recognition is not exempt from being taken advantage of by the media and her own family. Astonishingly, even she was withheld from the basic rights and respect a woman deserves.
It is also worth noting that the media and the people consuming such media were inherently responsible for this disposition. The world loves to criticize young women and it is not limited to the entertainment industry (think of every time we’ve mocked a “14-year-old-girl”). We’ve seen the same patterns with Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and even Kim Kardashian. While their lifestyle choices are questionable or rather unrelatable, they were subject to ridicule and humiliation for things beyond their control.
It is about time we take responsibility for the words we choose to put out on the internet and take accountability for the media we consume.
If you liked such content be sure to check out what happened at the Ellen DeGeneres Show
Let us know in the comments what you think of the Free Britney Movement