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Give me a sign and #FreeBritney

Give me a sign and #FreeBritney

Give me a sign and #FreeBritney
September 22
16:00 2020

Since late August, the hashtag movement #FreeBritney has flooded Twitter and TikTok after fans expressed concern over singer Britney Spears’ recent Instagram posts. 

As fans retweeted #FreeBritney related posts and urged someone to help the singer, there hasn’t been much explanation as to what fans are supposedly “freeing” Spears from or why she is allegedly a hostage. 

For the past 12 years, Spears’ life and money have been controlled by her father and an attorney she did not choose, cutting off her autonomy to live and control her life as she sees fit. Spears is overdue to be unshackled from her conservatorship or at the very least, regain a semblance of control in her life, such as hiring her own lawyer. 

A conservatorship is a legal guardianship where a judge-appointed person or organization, called the conservator, is entrusted with the care of another adult who cannot care for themselves or manage their own finances, according to the Judicial Branch of California website, where Spears’ conservatorship is filed. Spears’ finances, estate, career negotiations and approximately $59 million net worth have been managed between her father, Jamie, and an attorney, Andrew Wallet, according to a report from The Cut

Why does Spears have a conservator? In 2007, Spears finalized her divorce from Kevin Federline, who claimed that she had been behaving erratically, according to  The Cut. The highly-publicized incidents, including shaving her head, smashing the window of a photographer’s car and substance abuse, were allegedly caused by the constant media attention that followed the singer everywhere. 

After being involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital for the second time in 2008, Spears’ father and Wallet were granted temporary conservatorship, which later became permanent. In 2019, her father temporarily stepped down from his role for health reasons and appointed Spears’ care manager, Jodi Montgomery, as his replacement, according to a BBC report

On August 17, Spears filed a request to change the conservatorship substantially and to block her father from returning as her conservator or guardian, according to a report from The New York Times

She filed an objection to a motion from her father, which would seal a recent filing in the case on September 3, according to a report from the Associated Press. Spears’ attorney argued that the public scrutiny is “a reasonable and even predictable result of James’ aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimize the amount of meaningful information made available to the public,” according to court documents posted to Twitter. 

In addition to the objection, there’s an extensive list of the changes Spears and her court-appointed attorney seek to make to the conservatorship. The changes include opposing having her father as her conservator, appointing someone qualified to handle her estate and to have more control over her daily life and finances. 

Prior to these recent case filings, Spears’ situation and feelings toward the conservatorship have changed dramatically over the years. A 2008 Rolling Stone recording overheard Spears saying she wanted her life back and in 2009, she allegedly hitched a ride with a paparazzo to an attorney’s office to fight the legal situation, according to a report from Vulture

More recently, reports suggested the conservatorship wasn’t a “cage” anymore and Spears told her fans in 2019 to stand down from fighting the conservatorship. 

Although the #FreeBritney movement went viral on Twitter and TikTok within the last two years, ever since the conservatorship was put into place in 2008, Spears’ fans have organized and shown up to court hearings to protest the conservatorship, according to Vulture. 

Fans believe Spears has been sending coded messages through her social media accounts calling for help during the quarantine. A video of Spears wearing a yellow top went viral after a fan asked her to “wear a yellow shirt in your next video if you need help.” Other posts and a leaked letter from her former photographer have led fans to believe that she is secretly asking for help and that she was coerced into the conservatorship by her father. 

Regardless of these allegations or possible secret messages, Spears changing the conservatorship’s structure is a massive step in the right direction to regaining some of her autonomy. From a career standpoint, after the conservatorship was put into place, Spears’s career was revamped with multiple albums, tours, hosting gigs and a Las Vegas residency that’s cemented her as one of the greatest pop singers and comeback stories of the 2000s and 2010s. 

If Spears seeks total or partial autonomy from the conservatorship, it should be her choice about what that entails. She deserves to have whatever level of freedom she wishes and if she still agrees to the conservatorship, fans should respect her decision and understand that at the end of the day, it’s her life and her choice. 

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

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Sarah Berg

Sarah Berg

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