The #FreeBritney Movement
Since 2008, Britney Spears—the singer of pop hits such as “Baby One More Time” and “Toxic”—has been under a conservatorship by her father Jamie Spears. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a conservatorship is a legal status in which a court appoints a person to care for an individual who is incapable of doing so themselves. During this time, she was struggling with her mental health, resulting in several reports on her turbulent behavior such as shaving her head and hitting a photographer's car with an umbrella. Because of this, her father asked for a temporary conservatorship from the courts.
Under this arrangement, Britney lost legal control over her financials, estate, and herself as a person; essentially, she would not be allowed to spend money or make personal decisions without the consent of her father. In 2009, however, many fans began expressing their concern for Britney’s rights under this conservatorship and launched the #FreeBritney campaign as a response. Many argued that a contract of this nature was meant for severely mentally incapacitated people, yet Britney continued to release new music, go on world tours, and perform on stage, hinting that she wasn't as mentally debilitated as assumed to be.
(picture credits: Wall Street Journal)
Jamie was accused of conservatorship abuse by supporters of #FreeBritney as Britney’s behavior on social media and in public seemed unusual: people claimed that “she is being forced to smile”, that “there is someone in the background watching her”, “Britney doesn’t use :) ever”, and “she did not write this”. They believed that she was being controlled to the point where she had lost all freedom as a human being.
For years, Britney continued her strange social media presence without acknowledging any concerned comments. In 2019, Jamie Spears stepped down as Britney’s conversator and appointed Jodi Montgomery, a professional, to take his spot temporarily. At first glance, this was an improvement as Britney even stated in 2020 that she wished for Jodi to take on a permanent role.
However, she finally breaks her silence in the June 2021 testimony. She said “I'm talking to you today because I feel like Jodi is starting to kind of take it too far with me," she said. "She made me feel like my dad does — very similar behavior and my dad's — but just a different dynamic.” The testimony was a confirmation to the world that she had indeed been trapped for 13 years. "I've lied and told the whole world I'm okay and I'm happy. I've been in denial. I've been in shock. I am traumatised," she said. "I'm not happy. I can't sleep. I'm so angry it's insane. And I'm depressed. I cry every day." She also stated that she was put on birth control, went on tour, and carried out a Vegas residency all against her will.
Recently, a major victory for #FreeBritney supporters came as Jamie Spears officially filed for a petition to end the pop star's conservatorship. Judge Brenda Penny, who is overseeing the case, will make a decision at the next hearing on September 29.
Although Britney is not completely out of the shadows yet, it seems that freedom is near for Britney and the Britney army.