#FreeBritney trends after release of Spears documentary

By TORI D'AMICO
On February 17, 2021

Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi, Flickr

The #FreeBritney movement began in 2019 after the podcast “Britney’s Gram” expressed concern for the safety of Britney Spears. On Feb. 5, The New York Times released the documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” which gives an in-depth look at the heartbreaking struggles the pop star has been put through since 2007.

Spears became a star as a young teen, presenting the image of a teen girl who owns her sexuality and asserts her power. She was often labeled a “diva” by the media because she believed in having control over her image and career, both of which were continuously put down. 

She was constantly criticized in the media, who circulated tabloid photos of her non-stop. She was portrayed as a cheater by Justin Timberlake, and "crazy" when she began to rebel against the pure image people expected of her after shaving her head in 2007. It was at this time that Spears was going through the struggles of a divorce and fighting for custody of her two sons, which she lost.

The documentary details the beginning and progression of the conservatorship Spears was placed under in 2008. According to NPR, “The singer lost autonomy in 2008, when she was placed into a legal conservatorship controlled by her father, Jamie Spears, in an arrangement more typically made for an elderly person or someone with cognitive impairment.” Let it be known that Britney Spears was far from incompetent or incapable of caring for herself.

Before the conservatorship was fully placed, Spears had even met with lawyer Adam Streisand to express that she did not want her father in control. The courts refused to let Streisand represent her and instead placed her with Adam Wallet, who would be co-conservator until 2019 after not being given a raise-- yes, his position was for profit.

Shortly after her father took control of her life in all facets, MTV made a documentary called “Britney: For the Record.” In the documentary, there are the first looks at what the conservatorship really was. 

“If I wasn’t under the restraint that I’m under right now, you know, with the lawyers and doctors and people analyzing me everyday and all that kind of stuff like if that wasn’t there, I would feel so liberated and feel like myself,” Spears said. “When I tell them the way I feel, it’s like they hear me, but they’re really not listening.”

This would only be the start to years of losing control and her father Jamie Spears taking more and more. He entered her into business deals making millions of dollars. It was not until November of 2020 that Britney Spears finally had a statement published by her lawyer saying that she wanted her estate taken over by a financial institution, or she would no longer perform. 

The court ruled to make Bessemer Trust the co-conservator of Spears’ estate, but her father continues to fight for control. As of Feb. 11, the court has denied Jamie Spears’ bid to maintain control. The need for the conservatorship at all is constantly in question by #FreeBritney supporters though, and even Andrew Wallet stated that Britney Spears was fully competent. 

This documentary is more than a must-see. It is a look into the world of a young pop star with a promising future taken advantage of by a father who was absent in her youth, now an adult with no control over her life. It is tragic and reveals the many evils of Hollywood which hide behind the brilliant performances and photoshoots. 

Britney Spears is an icon and a light for her fans, and she deserves her freedom.

 

vdamico@ramapo.edu

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