The time has almost come for one Britney Spears to talk about her controversial conservatorship in court. We have had countless articles written about it, memes, conspiracy theories, and even a documentary from the New York Times. But now, after so many years, Britney will finally speak for herself. It is what every follower of the #FreeBritney movement has been waiting for.
From the seemingly endless court battles to the rise of the #FreeBritney movement, here’s a rundown on Britney’s conservatorship and the importance of her court hearing, slated for June 24 (AEST). There’s a very good chance we’ll wake up the headlines, to be honest.
What’s the go with the conservatorship?
In the US, a conservatorship is a legal guardianship where a judge appoints an individual or organisation (the conservator) to care for another adult who is deemed unfit to care for themselves or their finances (the conservatee).
Conservatorships are quite common with the elderly, who are no longer able to manager their own affairs by themselves.
Following concerns over her mental wellbeing, Britney was placed under a conservatorship in 2008.
Her father, Jamie Spears, has been her co-conservator since 2008, and then sole conservator in 2019 after attorney Andrew Wallet resigned from his role. During that same year, Jamie briefly stepped away from the position due to personal health reasons and Britney’s care manager Jodi Montgomery stood in as temporary conservator.
In August last year, Britney officially filed to have her father removed as conservator, requesting that Jodi take over permanently.
The judge ruled to keep Jamie Spears as conservator and appointed Bessemer Trust, a wealth management and investment advisory firm, as co-conservator.
Ahead of Britney’s hearing tomorrow, the New York Times published an article quoting a court investigator who had reviewed the conservatorship.
“She [Britney] articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her,” the investigator wrote in a 2016 report.
They added that Britney wanted to terminate the conservatorship as soon as possible.
What about the #FreeBritney movement?
According to a New York Times deep dive, the #FreeBritney movement was born in 2009. The campaign was started on the fan site BreatheHeavy.com, with the goal of seeing Britney freed from her conservatorship.
Why? Because the movement desperately wants the singer to regain autonomy over her affairs.
The #FreeBritney movement is huge, but it really – like really, really – gained traction in late 2018/early 2019. And that’s partly thanks to the Britney’s Gram podcast. That’s the podcast that got its name from studying the singer’s Instagram posts in search of ‘hidden messages’.
In October 2018, Britney was slated to announce her second Las Vegas residency, Domination. As part of the announcement, Britney was scheduled to perform a few songs and then take part in a slew of interviews. On the night of the announcement, Britney appeared onstage and then walked straight into her limo without saying a word to anyone.
Eleven weeks later in January 2019, Britney officially cancelled her residency. In an Instagram post explaining the cancellation, the singer said she needed to focus her energy on her family, particularly her father who “was hospitalised and almost died”.
Apart from a celebratory post honouring 20 years of her career, Britney would not post on Instagram again until April 2019. Around that time, TMZ reported that Britney had checked herself into a residential mental health facility.
During that same month, the Britney’s Gram podcast received an audio message from someone identifying themselves as a paralegal. This anonymous person claimed to be involved in Britney’s conservatorship and raised concerns over her wellbeing.
This and the cancelled Las Vegas residency was like throwing fuel on the fire for believers of the #FreeBritney movement.
Britney’s Gram was also featured in the New York Times’ bombshell documentary about the singer, which brings us to the next point.
Framing Britney Spears
The documentary Framing Britney Spears followed the singer’s life from her days on The Mickey Mouse Club to the mystery and concern surrounding her – you guessed it – conservatorship.
The New York Times combined archival footage with interviews, and spoke to lawyers, former paparazzi, and close friends. These were all people who played a part in Britney’s story as we know it, either in a good or bad way.
It also delved right into the tabloid media and television’s obsession with Britney during the late 1990s and 2000s, reminding all of us just how poorly treated she was by media and society.
The documentary came out earlier this year, once again shining a bright light on the #FreeBritney movement.
Believe it or not, but Britney responded to the documentary. In a post shared to her Instagram, Britney said she “cried for two weeks” after seeing the way she was portrayed in the doco.
“I didn’t watch the documentary but from what I did see of it I was embarrassed by the light they put me in,” the post read.
“I cried for two weeks and well… I still cry sometimes!”
Unsurprisingly, a lot of #FreeBritney supporters called bullshit on this post and accused her team of hijacking her Instagram.
So, what’s the big deal about the court hearing?
Earlier this year, it was announced Britney would speak on the “status of her conservatorship” in court. Prior to this, we only really heard about the conservatorship through Britney’s representatives or sources close to her situation.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny scheduled a hearing for June, after the singer’s attorney Samuel Ingham requested a date to be set “on an expedited basis”. Make of that what you will.
As you can imagine, fans and believers of the #FreeBritney movement have been gearing up for this moment for yonks. And it’s finally here.
What will Britney say when she appears in court? I have no idea, but you best believe we’ll be talking about it.