Britney Spears has been under a court-appointed conservatorship since 2008. While there's always been suspicion around the conservatorship within Spears' fan community, it reached a fever pitch last year. A fan podcast received an anonymous voice mail from someone claiming to be a paralegal connected to Spears' conservatorship.
The person claimed Spears was placed in a mental facility against her will in January, not April like her team claimed. It has been reported that Spears' conservator isn't able to force her into a mental facility against her will. The alleged paralegal claimed this was due to Spears not taking her prescribed medication. Allegedly, this was also the reason her second Vegas residency was canceled. It was previously announced the cancellation was due to her father's illness.
The #FreeBritney movement kicked off with fans protesting outside West Hollywood City Hall and getting the hashtag trending on Twitter. My immediate reaction to hysteria is to be skeptical. First of all, there was no verification as to whether this alleged paralegal was legit. When I wrote about the movement last year, I wasn't convinced these fans would be able to influence the court's decisions. To be honest, I'm still not convinced.
However, I am a bit more understanding of why this conservatorship has been an inappropriate course of action.
In 2007, Britney Spears' life was in full trainwreck mode. Her partying without underwear, shaving her head, hitting a paparazzi's car with an umbrella, and losing custody of her children were on full display. She also made a new friend, Sam Lutfi. His influence in Spears' life wouldn't appear to be a stable one, however. If anything, things got worse.
At the beginning of January 2008, a custody standoff led to Spears being involuntarily committed under a 5150 hold. Such a hold is meant for those who are a danger to themselves or others. Spears had initially locked herself in the bathroom with both of her sons, refusing to let them leave. In a recently leaked letter, Spears allegedly states that a friend (presumably Lutfi) told her the cops were leaving and to stay in the bathroom.
In the letter, Spears allegedly claims she was "lied to and set up." The hold was supposed to last up to 72 hours. Spears was released from the hospital before the 72 hours was up since doctors determined she wasn't in need of such a hold. However, at the end of the month, Spears was hospitalized for a second time under the same 5150 hold. This time, it was orchestrated in advance.
Shortly afterward, her father was granted a conservatorship over her life and finances. At the time, there were all sorts of speculation as to what kind of diagnosis Spears received at the hospital if any. Many believe Spears has bipolar disorder. In recently leaked court documents, Spears' father claimed his daughter had dementia, citing that as the reason for the conservatorship.
In mere months, Spears was back to work, filming a two-episode stint as a guest star on "How I Met Your Mother." Later that year, she released her album "Circus," filmed music videos, gave an interview for a documentary, and went on a world tour. This is when the conservatorship began to raise suspicions and eyebrows.
A conservatorship is put in place for those who are deemed unfit to care for themselves and their finances. It is usually put in place for elderly people with debilitating conditions. If Spears was so unfit to care for herself and had dementia as the court documents claim, how could she memorize lines for a television show? How could she memorize dance routines for a concert she performs every night?
Many fans expected the conservatorship would end after the "Circus" tour was over. However, it was decided the conservatorship would become permanent prior to the tour even starting. After the ruling, Spears released three more albums, went on tour, and had a successful residency show in Las Vegas. The conservatorship remains in place to this day.
Last year, it was reported that Jamie Spears allegedly physically abused Spears' son, Sean Preston. In response, Kevin Federline, Spears' ex and their children's father, took the matter to court. Spears' custody was severely decreased and she now only has 30 percent custody. Spears' father stepped down as her main conservator shortly afterward, citing health reasons.
Some have speculated the conservatorship is in place merely for business reasons. However, it doesn't legally make sense for such a thing to be in place given Spears' state. A conservatorship is supposed to only be an option when it's a question of functionality. It isn't supposed to be in place when someone is just self-destructive and making poor decisions.
In a way, the conservatorship has done good things for Spears. It helped get her life back to a stable state after years of nothing but chaos. It also helped ease the paparazzi's attention and change the media narrative about her. However, I can't help but wonder, at what cost?
Under this conservatorship, Spears is unable to make financial decisions without permission. She also reportedly needs permission to drive a car, have children, and get married. Some even say her diet and medication are controlled under this conservatorship. Although, it has been reported that Spears' conservator isn't able to force medication on her. Again, all this would make sense if Spears was incapacitated. But given her ability to function, this all appears to be a huge human rights violation.
I don't want Spears to go into self-destruct mode, but if she does, I believe she should have the right to do so. I know that might sound strange, but I must repeat my point. Spears clearly has the ability to function. Her past self-destructive behavior isn't grounds for a conservatorship. Amy Winehouse was never under a conservatorship. Whitney Houston was never under a conservatorship.
I wonder what Jamie Spears' motives were for continuing with this conservatorship for so long. Was he simply a terrified father trying to save his daughter? Was there some financial motive behind it? Or was it some combination of the two?
Another theory as to why the conservatorship is still in place is Sam Lutfi, who Spears now has a restraining order against. Since he's been booted from Spears' life, he filed a lawsuit against her. She was unable to testify due to the conservatorship, even though she was deposed back in 2016. They eventually reached a settlement.
While this may protect Spears and her money, it still isn't grounds for a conservatorship. Michael Jackson was arguably the most frivolously sued celebrity in history and he was never put under a conservatorship.
I don't claim to know what's going on behind closed doors with Britney Spears. I don't know how her mental health is in any capacity. I just know what I see and I believe that is enough to say this conservatorship is unnecessary. I also don't want to add more attention to Spears' life in a way that will cause her more stress. I don't want to be part of the problem. I want to be part of the solution.
When Spears was going through her troubles, "South Park" did an episode about Spears. The episode sent a message that Spears' life was destined to end due to the constant media attention. We've seen it before with Princess Diana. I have a feeling that this conservatorship would never have been put in place if it wasn't for Spears' fame and wealth.
I, like many of her fans, don't want her to self-destruct. I don't want her fame and wealth to get so overwhelming that it leads to her demise. If this conservatorship is causing her inner pain and distress, I hope she is set free. After all, I believe it's obvious such a move wasn't necessary in the first place.
I don't want Spears to end up like Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, or Princess Diana. I want Spears to grow past this, get control of her life, and live to be an old woman. I want her to be truly happy. I don't want her to be a tragic story, I want her's to be one of survival. If her freedom is crucial to eliminating that tragic element, then so be it.