Get To Know How The #FreeBritney Movement Came About

Thirteen years. That is how long Britney Spears has been under the control of her father. She cannot do anything without asking for his permission. Britney can’t even decide who can visit her, for example. She has zero privacy and can also be put under security anytime her father wants.

On January 5th this year, The New York Times released “Framing Britney Spears”, a documentary about Britney Spears’ life, career and the conservatorship she has been living under since 2008. It explores the singer's rise to fame, the way she was treated by paparazzis and how she got under the conservatorship.

The popularity of the new production brought attention worldwide to the fan-lead movement #FreeBritney which started in 2009 and resurged in 2019, after the singer disappeared from her Instagram page.

  1. 1. The conservatorship

    The term conservatorship refers to when a legal guardian is named by a judge to take care of someone’s life and finances, usually when the person is too old or has a disease and isn’t capable of managing their money.

    So the question is: why is Britney under that kind of control once she is a young woman, completely capable of doing everything that also has had a successful career for so many years? Her fans wonder about it all the time and claim that the conservatorship wasn’t in her best interests.

  2. 2. But why did she get that in the first place?

    In 2008, the singer had a public breakdown. She suddenly had some strange behavior, like shaving her head and attacking the paparazzi that were following her.

    Her parents claimed to be very concerned about her mental health and believed she could be susceptible to undue influence, - when someone is convinced by another person to give away their money. That’s why her father, Jamie, filed for a temporary conservatorship, which later became permanent.

    Britney accepted it because in 2007 she had lost custody of her kids and thought that, by having a conservator, she would be allowed to see her kids again. However, she never wanted her father to be in control of her life.

  3. 3. The #FreeBritney movement

    After the conservatorship was granted, in 2008, her fans gathered all their arguments on why Britney didn’t need that and created the website FreeBritney.net. Because of that, people started to make posts throughout social media using the hashtag #FreeBritney to bring awareness to her situation’s conflict.

    Even more than ten years later people still fight for the singer’s freedom. Her fans started to give even more visibility to the movement in 2018, when Britney signed a huge contract in Las Vegas, then suddenly canceled it and disappeared from all her social media accounts. With that episode, the movement shaped into a new tag: #WhereIsBritneySpears.

    A few months later, in 2019, she came back to her Instagram page sharing posts that didn’t seem normal. This event encouraged two of her biggest fans to analyze the situation and raise suspicions about the singer’s safety on a podcast.

  4. 4. The Britney’s Gram Podcast

    This podcast was created by two women who analyze Britney Spears’s posts on Instagram and share their conclusions. They believed to have found proof that the singer was sending hidden messages through the posts to call out for help. They spent months investigating Britney’s Instagram and trying to discover why she had gone completely dark for months.

    The news were pointing she had checked herself in a mental health facility in April 2019,. But an anonymous lawyer told the podcast she was there against her will since January, when she disappeared from social media.

    With the new information, her fans gathered around the streets of Los Angeles and organized a protest, bringing awareness and media attention to the #FreeBritney movement again.

  5. 5. Recent events

    In August 2020, Britney’s lawyers released a document which says the singer is afraid of her father and does not want him to be in control of her life and finances anymore,. It also pointed out she wants a bank to be her new conservator and refuses to work until that happens. Britney also recognized the support of her fans, making them speculate that all their suspicions were right.

    Later the same year, in November a court hearing happened and some people from the #FreeBritney movement were allowed to watch it. The judge denied to remove Jamie from the conservatorship, but allowed a bank to be the co-conservator of Britney.

    The final question on the Times’ documentary is: if she is able to say she doesn’t want her father to be her conservator anymore and won’t work until he steps out, why does she even need one? Why can’t she live her own life without someone being in control of it? Fans from the #FreeBritney movement still try to find those answers and won’t stop until the day she finally becomes free.

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The article above was edited by Nicole Leslie.

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