Since the conservatorship was granted in 2008, Britney’s life improved immensely, which was demonstrated in The New York Times documentary “Framing Britney”. The controversial film has become a major reference point for the #freebritney movement at large, coalescing all of their arguments and evidence into an impressive project that features interviews from fans, friends, relatives, ex-employees, and legal experts, most of whom are rooting from Britney to be freed from these dehumanizing legal restraints.
Considering that in the aftermath of her breakdown while under her father’s control she seemed to regain her image and began making music and performing again (becoming as successful as ever) it becomes difficult to argue that the conservatorship was harmful.
From the court’s perspective, you have a deeply damaged young woman unraveling at the seams in public and endangering her kids, who is now suddenly whole again following her dad’s influence in her life. It’s no surprise why they refused to release her from the conservatorship for so long. For all intents and purposes, it was working and doing exactly what it was designed to do. That being: help an incapacitated person be the best version of themselves, and protect them from negative external coercion.
However, just because things seemed to be working in the beginning, doesn’t mean it remained that way. This conservatorship has been going on for 13 years now, and there are bound to have been some unwanted changes. Over time a lot of the figures and operations surrounding Britney’s conservatorship began to look questionable to her supporters. Namely that she was being forced to work and make millions of dollars that she was factually not in control of. It is even speculated that her visitation rights with her children have often been contingent on her willingness to perform and make money for her father.
Fans thought they figured it all out once they began spotting what many believe to be subminimal cries for help in some of her incredibly bizarre IG posts. I personally feel that while she may be calling for help in some of these, a lot of these posts only serve to convince me that Britney Spears is a very mentally ill woman, and this fact should not be taken for granted in pursuit of protecting her from her allegedly abusive father. I think there is a middle ground to be gained here, one in which her father is taken off the conservatorship, but that she still has some form of guardian she trusts who looks after her life and her estate. Otherwise it’s likely she will be led astray by nefarious people and crash all over again.
Cut to 2020, when in a court hearing regarding her conservatorship, the popstar was finally able to speak out for herself, knowing she had an army of supporters behind her, both fans and fellow celebs.
I believe there are two issues at play here. 1) The damaging effects of childhood stardom. 2) Greedy people who wanted to take advantage of a mentally ill and super wealthy pop star.
Regarding the first, we are all too familiar with the damaging affects stardom can have on a young and developing mind, which is demonstrated when we look at figures who haven risen and fallen (and some risen again) right before our very eyes. Zayn and Liam from One Direction, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Shia Labeouf, Lindsey Lohan, Amada Bynes; the list goes on. Britney Spears is no exception to this troubling effect.
I can’t begin to imagine what it must’ve been like to move to NYC as a teenager with a chaperone because my parents stayed behind in Louisiana to care for my younger sister. And from that day on I am forced to become a child star, made to grind everyday like a workhorse. All while dealing with the hormonal ups and downs of adolescence, self-esteem issues, body image issues, and homesickness.
Then once you make it big, there’s only more work and you lose even more autonomy because now you are rich and have tons of social and work-driven obligations. The toll these things would take on one’s mental health is immeasurable, and I doubt any of us could have handled it any better than Britney did.
So, my final questions are: What do you think of all of this? Should Britney’s conservatorship be ended entirely? Should she still have some form of a guardian over her life and finances? Do you believe her father is abusive? And lastly, do you trust her new partner Sam Asghari who she intends to marry?