When I first heard the voicemail shared by the Britney's Gram podcast, my first instinct was to be skeptical. This voicemail was from a man claiming to be a paralegal who had knowledge of Britney Spears' conservatorship. The man claimed that Spears wasn't taking her medication during the time she was rehearsing for her planned second Las Vegas residency. When Spears allegedly refused her doctor's suggestion of a new medication, the voicemail claimed she was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility.
According to her team, Spears checked herself into the facility in the Spring of 2019. The alleged paralegal, however, claimed she had been in the facility since mid-January. The podcast episode sparked the #FreeBritney movement on social media. It eventually spilled over into real life, with fans demonstrating outside the courthouse in Los Angeles. The media attention gained by the movement led to The New York Times documentary, "Framing Britney Spears," which premiered in February.
During this time, my understanding of conservatorships evolved. At first, I assumed they were meant for mentally ill people who were self-destructive. I later came to understand that there is a big difference between someone being self-destructive and not having the capacity to function. Conservatorships, at least the kind Spears is under, are meant to help those who fall into the latter category. Given Spears' ability to learn and memorize choreography for her shows every night, I find it hard to believe she lacks the mental capacity to function.
I also find it hard to believe she has dementia, as early leaked court documents show was the reason her father used to request the conservatorship. This is one of the many reasons I have a hard time taking those who are sill opposed to the #FreeBritney movement seriously. I recently took part in a podcast where the host claimed that there is confidential medical information which could justify the conservatorship. I'm not here to dispute or debate Spears' mental health. However, what I do know is that she has more than proven her capability to function and any mental health issue she may have doesn't justify a conservatorship.
Therefore, I don't believe she should be in one. And if anybody wants to claim she may be a danger to herself or others, she's already proven that wrong as well. When Spears was first hospitalized in January of 2008, she was placed under an involuntary 5150 hold. The hold is meant for those deemed a danger to themselves or others. It was meant to last 72 hours, however, Spears was allowed to sign herself out before that time was up. The hospital deemed her not to be a danger to herself or others.
While my knowledge of conservatorships has evolved, the one thing that remained in place was a lack of willingness to jump to conclusions. I didn't want to speculate about the specifics of Spears' situation, because we had no way of knowing for sure what the truth was. Spears herself had not yet spoken out publicly to offer her side of the story. I also didn't want to add to the stress of Spears' situation by contributing to a culture which put her under an intense microscope back in 2007.
However, that all changed on June 23, 2021. Spears was set to participate in a court hearing where she would speak to the judge at her request. While fans like me were excited, we were also quick to not get our hopes up. We were aware of another hearing where Spears was set to appear remotely during the pandemic. However, Spears didn't get a chance to speak due to technical difficulties. We all were aware of the possibility of something similar happening again.
But that's not what happened. Spears had previously spoke via her court-appointed attorney that she didn't want her father to be conservator. She also said she appreciated the support of her well-informed fans. But this hearing was different. We actually got to hear Spears' voice via an audio livestream of the hearing. This didn't mark the first time Spears raised these issues in court, as she stated in her testimony. However, it was the first time we heard her speak outside the well-orchestrated, robotic machine she's lived and worked in for the past 13 years.
Ever since her comeback with 2008's "Circus," I couldn't help but feel like I was watching a different Britney. This didn't seem like the same person I grew up watching. In her interviews, performances, and appearances, she seemed very guarded. She seemed distant, scared, and devoid of that spark she once had. This lasted throughout the past 13 years, but the rest of the world didn't seriously start noticing it until recently.
Her team was very protective of her post-2008. They would have to approve of every question in advance and sit in on the interviews. The only time they allowed Spears to open up about her personal life was during the documentary, "For The Record," which aired on MTV. At the time, I felt like this was a good way to direct public attention back to her work. I also felt like it was a good way to end the insane overexposure of 2007-2008.
Yet, as the years passed and Spears seemed to be getting better, it made less sense why such a tight hold was still placed on her. Some wondered if Spears herself was a willing participant or if she was being controlled. It was hard to know for sure, since nobody was really allowed to ask her. I always felt it wasn't my business, but was sad to see a timid, shy, shell of a woman who once seemed so vibrant during my youth.
Now, it seems like we finally have answers as to why that was. During the testimony which lasted over 20 minutes, Spears made tons of shocking claims. She confirmed the story told by the alleged paralegal regarding her being forced into a facility. However, Spears said she didn't stop taking her medication and her "punishment" was due to her objecting to a dance move in rehearsal. She also claimed her doctor put her on lithium without her consent. Spears claimed she was abused by a therapist and thanked God when he passed away. Spears claimed that prior to this, she was forced to go on tour in 2018 and perform with a high fever.
Spears also said she was wearing an IUD and the conservatorship won't let her go to a doctor to remove it. She claimed she isn't allowed to be driven by her boyfriend and is forced to go to therapy more than once a week. She requested to only go to therapy once a week and have the sessions at her house. Spears said that her team chose to send her to a therapists' office located in view of the public and paparazzi. She also said her conservators threatened her by not allowing her to go on vacation if she refused to attend.
Spears claimed the conservatorship is abusive and wants to end it without being evaluated. She claimed that after doing research, she's discovered cases where conservatorships ended without the conservatee being evaluated. Some might try to suggest Spears is trying to hide a medical condition that justifies the conservatorship being in place. However, as previously stated, her proven ability to function disputes this.
Spears also claimed that in the entire 13 years she's been under this conservatorship, she wasn't aware she could file a petition to end it. This seriously makes me question her court-appointed lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III. It also gives me a clearer perspective on possibly why everything has been so hush-hush during this conservatorship. Perhaps her team has been desperate to keep the alleged abuse of power under wraps in order to keep it going. Maybe it had nothing to do with protecting Spears at all.
This certainly seems to be Spears' perspective. When the hearing started, one of the lawyers requested the hearing to be sealed from the public. Spears interrupted her, claiming they've exploited her long enough and that she wanted the world to hear her statement. During her testimony, she doubled down on this, saying that keeping it a secret would allow her team and family to continue benefiting from it. This also echoes statements from Spears via Ingham last year, where she claimed she was afraid of her father and wouldn't perform again if he was her conservator.
During the hearing, Spears sounded lucid and clear-headed. She sounded capable of developing and organizing thought. She didn't sound like someone who needed to be under a conservatorship. I think Spears should be allowed to manage her own affairs. That doesn't mean she will be going it alone. Anyone at her level needs a team. She would definitely need an accountant, lawyer, cook, driver, maid, assistant, etc. Spears just needs to be the one in charge of hiring them and making sure they're doing their jobs.
It has been many days since the hearing and Ingham still hasn't filed a petition to terminate the conservatorship. The next hearing is set for July and by all indications, future hearings in this case will go back to being sealed. If this is true, it makes me wonder if the courts are acting in the best interests of their client or trying to hide their alleged corruption to keep the conservatorship going. The only way we'll know for sure is if changes are made going forward.
Changes are one of the many things Spears plead for in her testimony. After all she's been through, she definitely deserves changes and then some. She deserves personal freedom and autonomy over her own body. She deserves to be treated like an adult, not a child. She deserves to work on her own terms, since she's more than earned it. Let's hope the judge makes the right decision in the end and gives Spears her life back. It would be inhumane not to. Regardless of what happens going forward, the court of California can't go back now. The word is out. The whole world is watching.