Britney Spears has finally asked to address the court to talk about the conservatorship that has controlled her life and finances for 13 years. The court hearing is on June 23rd. It would be the first known time in more than two years that the pop star has spoken in court. The courtroom sealed On May 10, 2019, and so none of her statements released to the public.
Thus, keeping these hearings private until now. But both Britney and her supporters have been pushing for transparency for a while now. So, they have finally agreed to a public hearing. This is the first time in forever that Britney will publically defend herself. Up until this point, it was mostly her lawyers who spoke for her, but now she’s got her chance to speak up
What is going On With Britney Spears?
This started around 2007 when Britney went through several psychiatric breakdowns following her split with her then-husband Kevin Federline. There were always rumors about Britney having a troubled childhood due to her alcoholic father. Talks of postpartum depression and more also occurred. Most of the troubles started with Britney having horrible anxieties during the European leg of her ‘Oops! I Did It Again’ tour. She had insomnia and crying fits and restlessness and agitated reported a source to the Mirror. The continuous harassment by the media and the paparazzi also didn’t help her case. This reached the boiling point when she infamously shaved off her head and attacked the paparazzi and the photographers with an umbrella.
After several failed rehab stints, she lost the custody of her two sons and locked herself in the bathroom with the youngest one for about three hours. She was then put on a 14-day psychiatric hold for her own safety.
Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship for over a decade now. So what is a conservatorship? The court grants a conservatorship for incapacitated individuals who are unable to make their own decisions, like those with mental illnesses or issues like dementia. The conservator’s duties include overseeing the finances, monitoring the conservatee’s physical care, and managing their living arrangements.
Britney Spears’ conservatorship has been split into two parts – one is for her estate and financial affairs and the other is for her as an individual. Under this legal agreement, Spears hasn’t had control over her finances since 2008. The court documented all of her finances.
Her father was initially responsible for both parts of the conservatorship, allowing him to make decisions about her personal life and career.
‘Framing Britney Spears’ – The Documentary
‘The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears’ is a 2021 documentary film by Samantha Stark. It follows the life of Britney Spears. It documents her childhood, her sudden rise to stardom, her continued success. The documentary also covered the darker part of her life by showing her struggle with her newfound fame, how the media tore her apart for the smallest things and also about the conservatorship that she has been living under since 2008. Released on February 5, 2021, on FX and FX on Hulu, the documentary acts as a biography of Britney Spears, it follows an interview-style pattern, wherein there is the interview of her closed ones. The documentary also shone a light on the misogyny of the entertainment industry, where most of the interviews in the footage made horrible and sexist remarks towards her.
Following the release of the documentary, a probate judge dismissed objections made by Jamie, Spears’ father regarding the co-conservatorship arrangement. Heavy criticism was levied towards Justin Timberlake who got away scot-free even after publicly humiliating both Britney Spears and Janet Jackson. Although he later apologized, his apology was still severely lacking.
People also dug up quite a few of her interviews from back in the day and most of them were revolting. She was still a minor when they brought up her appearances, virginity and love life. Most of these talk show hosts are old men, so seeing them asking these questions is nothing short of creepy. Diane Sawyer also received heavy scrutiny for the way she treated Spears on her show. She has apologized for her behavior since then.
Outpour of Support for Britney Spears
Following the documentary, the #freebritney movement restarted with new vigor. Support from all across the globe poured in for her. Most of the general public was unaware of her situation. Celebrities and fellow singers also came in to support her. From Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian to Charlie Puth, Ellie Goulding to even Cher expressed their sympathies. She has become the face of rallies of huge online protests, thanks to the ever-increasing presence of social media. She continues to trend on Twitter. Her records continue to chart and break new records, due to people talking about her.
Even people like John Oliver, Trevor Noah and many more have talked about the Free Britney movement on their shows. The movement isn’t restricted to just the US. Fans from all over the world came together to support her, international news also reported on the whole thing.
This film completely unmasked the horror female celebrities go through. The rampant sexism and misogyny in the entertainment industry are terrifying. The way these women are treated compared to their male peer is nothing short of horrifying. The pressure put on them to be always perfect. They treat these women like little girls who are incapable of having their own independent existence. The negativity and the scrutiny they go through can drive anyone insane. You can see this in the media too. Paparazzi continuously flock around to try to get a bad picture, magazines about who has gained weight, articles of them having too many flings or false rumors about plastic surgery and more. These are some of the things, they have to deal with.
Their talents and the amazing work they do are just ignored. Even in successful couples, the female counterpart is mostly reduced to as just arm candy.
What Can We Learn From This?
The sad part is that decades have passed but it’s still the same. Female performers have still antagonized for wearing ‘improper’ clothes while the male ones can perform bare-chested without any issue. If Taylor Swift has too many exes then she must be the problem but if Leonardo DiCaprio has too many girlfriends then he’s just a player. If a female singer writes a song about love she’s pathetic but if John Mayer writes a dozen ones, it’s because he’s romantic. You can count on your one hand the number of female superhero movies compared to the male ones.
This is a big issue in India too. The way media and the news treat female celebrities are abhorrent and treat them ridiculously for the smallest things. We see how if an actress ages a bit the industry is quick to put her into maternal roles while the actors of the same age continue to portray the heroes. Half of the movie reviews only talk about how the actress looks rather than her acting thus body shaming them. And if they reply, they are termed as the angry, opinionated ones. There are barely any female-centric movies.
Britney Spears’ case is a very tragic one. But it’s not the only one. Thousands across the world are in similar or worse situations. The conservatorship issue has really brought the injustices to light. We as a society are also partly responsible for how we treat women. There’s still hope though. With Britney appearing in front of the court in a few months or so, we need to keep raising our voice and keep supporting her. Britney Spears has been through a lot and it’s high time she gets her freedom back.