You've probably noticed that the #FreeBritney hashtag has been popping up on your social media feeds a lot lately, and here's why: Despite being one of the most famous celebrities on the planet, Britney Spears has almost no control of her life. This is because she's under a conservatorship that grants her father, James Spears (aka Jamie), control of almost everything she touches including her money, her health, and her daily routine. Now, fans are petitioning the government and rallying support to #FreeBritney as her next court date approaches.
There's a lot to unpack, so here's what you need to know:
FIRST, A (SUPER BRIEF) HISTORY OF BRITNEY'S CONSERVATORSHIP
Britney was placed under conservatorship all the way back in October 2008, after she was put on a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold at UCLA. At the time, the court placed her under the conservatorship of her dad and an attorney name Andrew Wallet. But get this: just one month later, Britney was back at work. She guest-starred on How I Met Your Mother, opened the MTV Video Music Awards, filmed an entire documentary, and released a freakin' album all of which the #FreeBritney movement believes are indicators that she was being exploited.
Flash-forward to March 2019, and co-conservator Andrew Wallet resigned, saying that, "Substantial detriment, irreparable harm and immediate danger will result to the conservatee and her estate if the relief requested herein in not granted on an ex parte basis." Meanwhile, Jamie filed a request to temporarily relieve himself of his duties in September, and Britney's care manager Jodi Montgomery took over as conservator. According to Page Six, Jodi will remain Britney's conservator until August 22 of this year.
SO, WHAT DOES THE CONSERVATORSHIP MEAN EXACTLY?
Per Newsweek, Britney has to ask her father "to sign off on every major decision she makes, from business, to health, to voting and marriage." Meanwhile, a 2016 New York Times article wrote, "Her most mundane purchases, from a drink at Starbucks to a song on iTunes, are tracked in court documents as part of the plan to safeguard the great fortune she has earned but does not ultimately control."
According to her brother, Bryan Spears, while he and some members of her family think the conservatorship has been "a great thing for our family," Britney has wanted to get out of it for a while. Talking on the As NOT Seen on TV Podcast, Bryan explained:
"She's been in this thing for quite some time now. Obviously there was a need for it in the beginning...She's always wanted to get out of it. It's very frustrating to have. Whether someone's coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating. She's wanted to get out of it for quite some time."
#FREEBRITNEY STARTED BACK IN 2019
Shortly after Wallet stepped down as a conservator, it was reported that Britney had checked into a facility because she was upset about her dad's poor health. But the podcast Britney's Gram received a voicemail from an anonymous paralegal source who claimed that the pop star was actually being held against her will and that her hospitalization was ordered by Jamie after she refused to take her meds.
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"Hi there. I cannot disclose who I am. I just heard the latest episode and you guys are on to something. I used to be a paralegal for an attorney that worked with Britney's conservatorship. I am no longer with them. What is happening is disturbing, to say the least. Basically, Britney was in rehearsals for Domination. It came to Jamie's attention, Jamie Spears, that Britney was not taking her medication as prescribed. She was missing a lot of doses and just full-on not taking them. So, they got her to the doctor, the doctor said, 'Okay, if you don't want these medications, let's get you on a new one.' She refused to take the new one. So Jamie said, 'Either you take this medication or the show's off, and I'm pulling my support and you can't do it.' Britney did not follow Jamie's instructions, and so he was true to his word, he pulled the show, he verbatim said, 'Blame it on my illness.' [...] Britney has been in the mental facility since mid-January. Of course, the statement yesterday said that she entered last week, that is not true. She has been there since mid-January. There is no timeline, granted I haven't worked at the firm for a little over two weeks now, but there is no end date particularly in sight for this stay at this mental facility to end. She did not want to go. [...] From what I understand, this was not a decision she made, at all."
At this point, the #FreeBritney movement really took off, and Entertainment Tonight reported that even Britney's mom was liking #FreeBritney posts on the internet. In April of that year, fans held a protest outside West Hollywood City Hall, and Britney left the facility a few days later.
On April 23, 2019, Britney released an Instagram statement saying, in part, "I wanted to say hi, because things that are being said have just gotten out of control!!! Wow!!! There’s rumors, death threats to my family and my team, and just so many things crazy things being said. I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me." She also added, "you may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want!"
FANS ARE READING INTO BRITNEY'S INSTA POSTS
Because Britney's Instagram is presumably monitored, fans who believe she's being held against her will consistently look for signs that she's trying to ask for help from alleged references to "control" to subtle messages through her clothing.
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The movement has also gained traction thanks to support from popular Instagram accounts like Saint Hoax and Diet Prada:
SO, WHERE DO THINGS STAND NOW?
News should be coming in just a few days. According to The Blast, Britney was due back in court on July 22nd, "where it's hoped her 12-year long conservatorship case will come to a close." However, when the day finally came, the hearing was postponed reportedly because her fans kept crashing the private Zoom link..
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