#FreeBritney: Stan and Take a Stand

Background

 

“I want to be an artist that everyone can relate to, that's young, happy and fun.”

 

These were the words said by Princess of Pop Britney Spears, who delivered exactly what she wanted. Since Britney Spears first stepped into the spotlight in the late 90s with her debut single, ‘...Baby One More Time’, she has remained an well-known and important member of the music industry. Her persevering boldness throughout her career proved to be controversial at times but nonetheless, embraced by her, has made her one of the most prominent figures in popular culture.

 

Britney birthed the risqué school girl outfit (which never gets old as a Halloween costume), draped a live python over her shoulders during her 2001 VMAs performance, rocked a denim-on-denim outfit at the 2001 AMAs and topped off her ‘Like A Virgin’ 2003 VMAs performance smooching Madonna. These are just a few of many iconic Britney Spears moments.

 

Although her career spans decades, Britney’s lyrics, outfits and choreography are truly unforgettable and she has raked up an impressive active fandom. Britney has had many victories throughout her career and fans are currently in the process of backing her in another bid to trumph. 

 

In 2007, Britney suffered a series of public breakdowns. She made headlines for shaving her own head in a salon after the hairdresser refused, she also attacked a member of the paparazzi’s car with an umbrella and attended rehabilitation facilities several times. This came after her divorce from Kevin Federline wherein she lost custody of their two children.

 

After a stand-off with the police where she refused to give up her sons, she was admitted into a psychiatric institution and entered a conservatorship in early 2008.

 

What is a conservatorship?

 

The California Courts official website defines a conservatorship as a court ordered appointment of a person or organisation to care for another adult who is deemed unfit to care for themself or manage their own finances.

 

Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, became her conservator in 2008, giving him the legal power to oversee and make decisions on her finances, health, work and personal life. Jamie held this position up to 2019 when he experienced health issues and stepped down, at which point, Jodi Montgomery took over at his request. 

 

Comeback

 

Despite Britney’s mental health battles, she made an official comeback in 2008 with the release of her ‘Circus’ album. Shortly after she signed a Las Vegas residency, and launched her own perfume and lingerie line.

 

#FreeBritney

 

Although Britney Spears requires no introduction (at least one person in every room can recite a Britney song from start to finish), her successful career is only the tip of the iceberg and there is a lot to unpack beneath the surface.

 

In 2019, Britney checked into a mental health facility due to unease over her father’s health issues. In the same year on April 17, the tag #FreeBritney was first seen on a shirt worn by The Talk cast member, Eve, which was later posted on Instagram. The next day, the Real Housewives of New York actor, Luann de Lesseps, also took to Instagram with a video embedding the tag.

 

On April 22, fans gathered in front of the West Hollywood City Hall holding signs in protest of the conservatorship due to suspicions that Britney was “being held against her will."

 

Overtime, #FreeBritney has been picked up as a movement by Britney fans concerned with the pop star's well-being. Taking into consideration that Britney received professional care for her mental health and remained active in her career shortly after (not to mention she is now 39 years old), fans are sceptical of the need for the conservatorship.

 

Moreover, Britney’s Gram is a podcast hosted by comedians Tess Barker and Barbara Gray which began as a humorous discussion and analysis of Britney’s Instagram posts. However, in a special episode, the hosts revealed a voice message they received from an anonymous lawyer at a firm associated with Britney’s conservatorship on concerns over Britney and her father’s power.

 

Framing Britney 

 

Over the years, Britney’s conservatorship has remained mysterious with minimal information being uncovered from time to time. Undeniably, her story is one filled with questions and concerns.

 

Recently, a documentary produced by the New York Times detailing Britney’s entire career and long standing conservatorship was released. The documentary features exclusive footage and interviews with a wide range of individuals; from fans to people who have worked closely with Britney. 

 

Among other concerns, it has revealed the mistreatment Britney endured in the early 2000s at the hands of the media. The documentary is a heartbreaking and insightful watch that is now available to stream in the UK on NowTV.

 

Britney has taught us so much, from how to spice up a plain old school uniform to lessons in life and love. It is now up to us to learn more about her circumstances and take a stand for the Princess of Pop we stan.

 

Words By: Ellis Idris

Edited By: Rosie Harkin-Adams