By Juno Kelly.
Spears is “strongly opposed” to having her father, Jamie, return as her conservator after he temporarily stepped down to focus on his health in 2019.
When forced to name the notables who defined pop culture at the turn of the millennium, Britney Spears appears high on the list. The Baby One More Time singer, who skyrocketed to fame after appearing as a living iteration of the Lolita meets schoolgirl fantasy in the video for the single in 1998, became pop’s reigning princess at the tender age of 16.
Like many other child stars, however, the consistent surveillance of the paparazzi and the scrutiny of the press proved overwhelming. In 2007, Britney released Piece of Me, a song that launched a visceral attack on show business. “I’m Mrs. you want a piece of me tryin’ and pissin’ me off / well get in line with the paparazzi who’s flippin’ me off / Hopin’ I’ll resort to some havoc end up settlin’ in court / Now are you sure you want a piece of me?” Spears sang.
Spears’ experience in the spotlight did indeed end up in court. Following consecutive mental breakdowns between 2007 and 2008, when the star publicly shaved her head, vandalized a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella, and was emitted to a psychiatric hospital against her will, Spears was placed under Valley of the Dolls-style control at the hands of her father Jamie Spears and her (ironically named) lawyer Andrew M. Wallet, in what is called a conservatorship.
A theory that Britney was being controlled rapidly began to circulate. Said rumors gained increasing momentum over the last year, due to the musician’s bizarre activity on Instagram, in which she consistently appears within the same four walls. Concern was so widespread that over 134,000 of the singer’s fans signed a petition asking for Spears to be assigned her own lawyer to help #FreeBritney.
The rumors were, however, largely dismissed as ‘conspiracy theories,’ until last week, when, on August 17th, a document submitted to the Superior Court of California was leaked. The file revealed that Spears is “strongly opposed” to having her father, Jamie, return as her conservator (also known as ‘legal guardian’) after he temporarily stepped down to focus on his health in 2019.
At the time of writing, “free Britney” yields 173 million search results. Protests have taken place outside the court in Los Angeles, where fans bear signs reading reading “free Britney” and “the justice system failed Britney.” The star’s former husband and childhood friend, Jason Alexander, was in attendance, further convincing fans that Britney’s plight is both valid and urgent.
In a recent series of tweets, The American Civil Liberties Union – an organization dedicated to protecting individual rights – expressed concern for the pop star’s situation. “People with disabilities have a right to lead self-directed lives and retain their civil rights. If Britney Spears wants to regain her civil liberties and get out of her conservatorship, we are here to help her. Conservatorships can result in serious financial, physical, or emotional abuse,” they wrote.
As it stands, Spears’ father will remain her conservator until her case is again reviewed on the 1st of February 2021. Until then, Britney will obtain limited control over her life and estate. It can be surmised that the #FreeBritney advocates will continue to fight for the people’s (pop) princess.