News Editor, Izzie Naish, explains what’s been happening with Britney Spears and the #FreeBritney movement
As one of the most influential singers of the 90s / 00s, you could say the name ‘Britney Spears’ to anyone and they would know who she is. Throughout her time, Britney has been no stranger to the headlines, whether this be for her smash hits such as ‘…Baby one more time’, ‘Toxic’, or ‘Circus’ or for bringing a python on stage during her performance at the 2001 VMAs. Over the years Britney has gained a strong following, however, recently fans have become increasingly concerned about her wellbeing and believe she is trapped under a legal agreement known as a conservatorship.
According to Investopedia, a conservatorship is where a ‘court appoints someone to manage an incapacitated person or minor’s financial and personal affairs’. In 2007 and 2008 Britney suffered an infamous public breakdown, where her increasingly erratic behaviour such as impulsively shaving her head, attacking a paparazzi with an umbrella, and getting stretchered out of her California mansion captured the attention of media outlets across the globe. As a result of these issues with her mental health, Britney was placed under a conservatorship, and control over her personal and financial decisions was trusted with her father, Jamie Spears.
However, those who follow the #FreeBritney movement believe that this control is not helping Britney’s situation, and is infact detrimental to her mental wellbeing. In California, Britney’s home state, it is rare for conservatorships to be placed upon those suffering from mental health problems, and more commonly required for those suffering from age-related conditions such as dementia. The requirements for a conservatorship in the state dictate that the individual must be incapable of meeting their basic needs and making autonomous decisions; so those protesting her restrictions are sceptical as to whether she still fits this criteria after over twelve years – or whether she ever fitted it in the first place.
The situation appears to be reaching a head this year, both publicly and legally. In Spring 2019 Britney had a month-long stay at a mental health facility in the wake of her father who experienced a spontaneous colon rupture. She later testified that she was admitted to the institution and forced to take certain medications against her will. Over the year, other members of her family have attempted to grow public support for the abolition of the conservatorship. In an exclusive interview with ‘As NOT Seen on TV Podcast’ her brother, Bryan Spears, stated that ‘she’s always wanted to get out of it’, and her mother, Lynne Spears, has engaged with social media posts in support of #FreeBritney. These actions have further fuelled the public’s interest in the movement, with loyal supporters taking to both social media and the streets to actively protest the conservatorship.
So, what is currently happening in this war over Britney’s conservatorship? With the singer, certain family members and the public on one side and her father and her lawyers on the other, the situation has not yet reached a definitive outcome. Despite Britney and her mother’s public campaigning for the restrictions to be altered so that Jamie is no longer her legal conservator, the judge of a court hearing in November 2019 declined the requests. In protest, the singer is refusing to resume her professional career until he is no longer in control and she has more autonomy over her life and finances. This legal battle is ongoing, with the next court hearing about the case taking place on the 16th December. It appears that until Britney is granted these legal changes which she requests and gains some more personal freedom, the #FreeBritney movement is set to continue.
Edited by Sophie Alexander – Entertainment Editor
Header Image by Annabel Smith