The #FreeBritney movement is sounding the alarm on the fight to bring Britney Spears’ conservatorship to an end.
If you’re just joining the dialogue: Despite what some rather tasteless headlines suggest, you shouldn’t discount it as a mere “conspiracy theory.”
Like any activist movement, conspiracies latch onto it. But at its core, #FreeBritney grew out of factual reporting from national news publications.
The phrase “Free Britney” first appeared in 2009, but the movement as we know it didn’t emerge until a decade later.
#FreeBritney was born when a usually whimsical podcast took on a sobering topic : the conservatorship of Britney Spears.
The Los Angeles Times later summed-up the Spears conservatorship case after concluding a thorough, three-month-long investigation:
Since her public unraveling in 2008, she has been subject to a court-approved conservatorship — known in other states as a legal guardianship — that gives her father authority over her finances and many personal decisions.
And here’s the critical conclusion that sparked the #FreeBritney movement:
The legal oversight is highly unusual. Conservatorships are designed to protect people who cannot take care of themselves, but Spears, now 37, has worked nonstop over the course of her own, producing four albums and going on as many world tours.
Abundant sources exist if you’re looking to revisit the events which led to her “public unraveling.” None of that matters now.
This isn’t about the public mistakes made by Britney Spears 12 years ago (at age 26).
It’s about the alleged injustice that’s happened since.
Under the conservatorship, Spears has no control over financial or personal decisions. That power was granted to her father and her attorney.
Further financial documents secured by ET show that, in 2018, Spears paid out $1.1 million in “legal and conservator fees” – $128,000 of which went directly to dear ole dad (Jamie Spears).
The whole ordeal with her father would make up a multi-volume book series. One example is Jamie allegedly claiming Britney had dementia during the initial legal filings .
Those reviewing the Spears situation say it’s not the only alarm being sounded.
There have been questions about Britney’s legal representation dating back to the conservatorship’s conception.
On February 4, 2008, MTV News said that Britney’s lawyer was “ejected” from the courtroom after the “judge [didn’t] recognize him as her counsel.”
Later that month – weeks after the conservatorship order was signed – The Hollywood Reporter disseminated an interview between Britney’s would-be second lawyer (Jonathan Eardley) and The Associated Press.
[I’m] concerned for the emotional and physical safety of Britney under these circumstances.
Much has happened since then – way too much to “fit” on this page. The elapsed time has allowed a 12-year paper trail to pile up.
Amidst thoroughly-researched news reports come rumors that Britney Spears can’t vote, her social media activity is highly monitored, and that she must seek permission before driving or going out.
According to TMZ, Britney told a judge her father committed her to a mental health facility last year against her own will.
This is where the actual conspiracies come into play.
Considering that she has a literal guardian (which essentially makes her little better than a “minor”) – many of these rumors sound plausible. The fact is we just don’t know.
What’s important here is that Britney Spears fans believe this woman is backed into a corner – and they believe the conservatorship gives her no way to win. Not by herself, at least, which is why #FreeBritney exists in the first place.
And they’ve been wildly successful at raising awareness about the issue:
An excerpt from the Washington Post encapsulates why they’re so concerned about the pop idol:
From the outside — and even for some inside Spears’s world — the restrictions surrounding the pop star are startling. This is a celebrity who has toured the world, racked up a string of No. 1 hits and platinum albums and starred in a popular four-year Las Vegas residency.
Today, Spears exists in a carefully protected bubble, handlers shielding her from negative influences or hangers-on. She doesn’t have an email address, and her father has the right to sign her tax forms, revoke all powers of attorney and “pursue opportunities related to professional commitments and activities including but not limited to performing, recording, videos, tours, TV shows and other similar activities as long as they are approved by Ms. Spears’s medical team,” according to documents.
Naturally, the Jamie Spears camp continues pushing back against what’s being described as “the #FreeBritney narrative.”
“Camp Conservatorship” has even sued a #FreeBritney supporter.
Though the conservatorship order itself technically extends until at least August 22, fans hope Wednesday’s hearing might be the beginning of the end.
Behind this decade-long legal fight stands an unavoidable question. If a woman is deemed capable of:
Then why isn’t she deemed capable of holding fundamental civil liberties?