#Free Britney: The Battle Won
Internet sleuths and beloved fans rejoiced recently as it was announced that Britney Spears’s father, Jaime Spears, is finally stepping down from her conservatorship; relinquishing his control over her personal life, and her estate worth over $60 million.
Although when he withdraws remains unclear, Britney fans remain encouraged by the recent events.
This has been a hard-fought battle that has spanned many years of backstage and center stage rebellion from Britney and her fans. With a conservatorship lording over her actions, Britney has been kept under the watchful hand of her father, exerting control over everything from her body, her finances, and even her career. So, let’s recap all the events that led to this victory for a musical icon who deserves agency over her actions, money, and body.
For thirteen years, Britney’s career and personal life were kept under control by a conservatorship that dictated her every move. A conservatorship is a court official status that allows an appointed conservator to make decisions and act on behalf of an incapacitated or incompetent individual’s or minor’s financial affairs. This began after a period of mental sickness in Britney’s life. However, since then Britney herself had been fighting the conservatorship for years now. But the legal battle for her freedom gained momentum after the release, now a must-watch documentary: Framing Britney Spears (2021). As seen in the trailer here, the documentary follows Britney Spears’ rise to fame from country kid to Disney child star, teen pop sensation, and musical icon.
The documentary also goes into the brutal nature of how the media villainized Spears. Overly critical from everything to her fashion sense to her romantic partners, paparazzi sold a story of an out-of-control pop-brat. Fueled by rumors from the likes of Justin Timberlake, who hijacked the narrative of their tumultuous relationship to make himself seem like the victim. Timberlake has since apologised for his involvement, but for many fans, it is too late. After the pair broke up, Timberlake even went as far as to accuse Spears of the deterioration of their relationship by using a lookalike in his ‘Cry Me A River’ music video.
The rumour-filled stories painted Britney as a rampaging, sexually deviant, psychotic woman and a bad mother. The media was relentless, and Britney’s spiral was captured, publicized, and publicly mocked. As we can see here, on the popular state-side show ‘Family Feud’ Britney was used in the question ‘What has Britney Spears lost this year?’. The answers (seen below) are shocking.
This behaviour came to a head in 2007. With her problems with former husband Kevin Federline on public display, Britney lost custody of her children. Paparazzi hounded her, escalating in her jabbing an umbrella at an SUV owned by a reporter.
In 2008, after Britney’s mental health spiraled and resulted in stints in rehab, Jamie Spears requested a conservatorship from the courts to look after Britney, her career, and her financial assets. In 2008, the courts extended Britney’s father’s conservatorship indefinitely. However, according to a report from the New York Times, the term #FreeBritney allegedly comes from a fan site that objected to the conservatorship back in 2009. As time passed, Britney recovered and threw herself into her work. Back in 2013, despite still not being in control of her own legal and financial affairs, Britney launches into her four-year concert residency in Las Vegas and released four new albums between 2011 and 2021.
However, now in 2021, the documentary’s release and the sudden ending of Britney’s residency alerted the fans nationwide. Since then, the movement has only grown in numbers. The hashtag #FreeBritney and related hashtags account for well over a million hits on Instagram, and it is a similar story on Twitter. With support from celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Miley Cyrus, and Bette Midler, the movement gained such momentum that it could not be ignored.
Eagle-eyed fans noticed that something strange was happening with odd, static-like posts appearing on Britney’s Instagram that seemed distinctly staged with little or no interaction with fans and vague captions. Britney seemed to communicate with fans discreetly. Many speculated that Britney was unable to speak out against the conservatorship for her safety. It has only been since the court proceedings, which occurred recently when we have heard, herself publicly address the conservatorship The most notable incident occurred when a concerned fan told her to wear yellow if she needed help, and then she made a big deal out of wearing yellow. Fans immediately jumped to her aid.
During the hearing on the 14th of July 2021, Britney’s choice of lawyer was approved. To which she replaced Samuel D. Ingham as her legal representative with her own lawyer, Mathew Rosenhart. She further added to her team by adding Jason Rubin to her chosen conservatorship including Jodi Montgomery in order to replace her father.
After much public discourse, in court on the 23rd of June, Britney gave an emotional 20-minute address of the distress caused by her father due to her conservatorship. The court heard allegations, including how Britney wanted to marry and have more children, but her father would not allow her to remove her I.U.D. (birth control). She called out her ‘team’ for cruelty and expressed her depression over the ‘abusive’ conservatorship.
New York Times reported her statement:
“I wanted to take the IUD out, so I could start trying to have another baby, but … they don’t want me to have … any more children. So basically, this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good. I deserve to have a life.”Britney Spears
Her moving plea and the international press coverage impacted many. Twitter was abuzz with support for the singer; the conservatorship seemed unnecessary cruelty as Britney was of sound mind since she has not had any releases and no longer needed the protection that having such a legal binding would give. Public concern over the case resulted in police being called to monitor the negative comments and death threats made against Judge Penny, who is presiding over the issue as mentioned here. However, the public sentiment is clear. She should have control over her own body, her career, and her finances. It seemed like Britney’s father was the only one who benefited from having authority.
However, recent news spread that Jamie Spears was indeed stepping down from his role as conservator to Britney’s estate. According to his attorney, there are no factual grounds for his removal from the position. His legal representation, Vivian Thoreen, had pushed back against the claims made by Britney’s legal counsel, but finally, her father has conceded.
However, Britney’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart is not convinced this is the end of the court proceedings. While speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Rosengart gave this statement:
“We are pleased that Mr. Spears and his lawyer have today conceded in a filing that he must be removed. We are disappointed, however, by their ongoing shameful and reprehensible attacks on Ms. Spears and others. We look forward to continuing our vigorous investigation into the conduct of Mr. Spears, and others, over the past 13 years, while he reaped millions of dollars from his daughter’s estate, and I look forward to taking Mr. Spears’s sworn deposition in the near future. In the interim, rather than making false accusations and taking cheap shots at his own daughter, Mr. Spears should remain silent and step aside immediately.”Mathew Rosengart
The hearing protesting the removal of Mr. Spears is still scheduled for the 29th of September. However, there is no doubt who the public is siding with this time.
Written by Perry Wyatt | Illustrated by Sanni Pyhanniska