by Lanie Hymowitz ’22
Published Mar. 10th, 2021
Making people feel bad for celebrities is a tall order. They possess everything the average person so fiercely craves: adoration from many, financial security, constant attention… the list goes on. But that’s where our fascination with celebrities ends.
Anything off the beaten path of typical glam and glitz is either ignored or viciously mocked. Society certainly chose the latter when in 2008, Britney Spears’s life unraveled before everyone’s eyes.
The sight of the once jubilant pop princess seeming to suddenly crash and burn—shaving her head and attacking paparazzi among her “crimes”—was prime late-night television folly.
For anyone who had watched the endless jokes about the starlet, it might be hard to take the Framing Britney Spears documentary, and the accompanying #FreeBritney movement, seriously. What could be so pressing about the life of a pop star, who still had major success after the infamous breakdown? The problem lies in that post-crisis success and whether it was wanted or not.
The aforementioned Framing Britney Spears documentary raised eyebrows for its introspective look into Spears’s conservatorship under her father. Conservatorship is a legal practice where an individual is deemed unfit to care for themselves and an adult is appointed to manage their life, often managing their finances as well.
Spears, a woman of 39 with two teenage children, is still under the constant supervision of her conservator, and has been since 2008. Her conservator, her father Jamie, decides what work she does, what she can spend money on, and when she can leave the house.
The unfortunate truth is that Spears’s relationship with her father is clearly exploitative: the family makes money by dropping Spears into various deals. As Britney herself has no say in the matter, why wouldn’t Jamie want to sign contracts left and right?
The bottom line is that this conservatorship is abuse. No grown adult should have to be forced into doing things—in Spears’s case, making albums and giving concert after concert—that they would otherwise be unwilling to do. Despite Britney’s court pleas to have her father’s conservatorship “suspended immediately,” she remains under his control.
Standing behind #FreeBritney is our olive branch to her, and to many others who may be suffering under similar conditions but are not under the spotlight in the way she is. #FreeBritney is the start of those in the darkness being welcomed into the light.
UPDATE: On March 23, Britney’s legal team officially filed a petition asking her father Jamie to be removed from being her personal conservator. She is requesting Jodi Montgomery, a state-appointed conservator, to permanently fill the role. Montgomery has served as her temporary conservator since 2019, when Jamie temporarily stepped back due to health issues.