Britney Spears has been keeping fans entertained with her dancing videos posted to her Instagram page and Tik Tok throughout the coronavirus lockdown but the singer’s chaotic energy has worried some of her fans.
The #FreeBritney movement has been trending on social media again and fans have been discussing the conservatorship that Spears has been under for the last 12 years.
Spears responded to the outpouring of concern about her behaviour on Instagram, writing, “I get how some people might not like my posts or even understand them, but this is Me being happy ….. this is Me being authentic and as real as it gets !!!!!”
“I want to inspire people to do the same and just be themselves without pleasing others ….. that’s the key to happiness,” she added.
Here’s what you need to know about the #FreeBritney movement and her conservatorship.
What is the #FreeBritney movement?
The #FreeBritney movement originally started in 2009 and was created by her fans after the 2008 decision by courts to appoint a conservator for the singer.
The 38-year-old singer is still governed by the conservatorship, which gives her conservator, her father Jamie Spears, control over life decisions.
The movement began to trend again online last year after Spears checked into an undisclosed hospital in March after struggling to deal with her father’s longstanding illness. Many fans believed that she was sent to the facility against her will.
Some of her passionate fans gathered outside West Hollywood’s City Hall at the time to protest against the mental health facility which she received treatment from.
The small group of supporters paraded around the street corner in the afternoon while waving signs which read “#FreeBritney.” Collectively, they preached that Spears did not need help and demanded her immediate release from the facility.
Most of the protest was live-streamed on YouTube.
Fans began to get concerned over the Lucky singer again this year after she began to post many videos to Instagram and Tik Tok where she is either dancing, walking back and forth or speaking extremely fast.
“If you need help wear yellow in your next video,” a fan commented on Spear’s Instagram post.
Fans noticed that in her next video Spears was wearing a yellow top and white shorts.
A Change.org petition was created titled #FreeBritney, and the description said the goal of the petition is to “get that C-ship investigated for abuse and ultimately terminated so Britney can finally be free and live her best life.”
The petition goes on to allege that Spears’ father “doesn’t allow her to drive, all of her calls & messages are monitored, she’s not allowed to vote, hang with anyone or spend her money without permission. And if she breaks a “rule” he threatens to have her kids taken away!”
“Her team has kept her quiet for years and it’s now time for Britney to speak! She’s been held against her will and kept quiet for too long. At this point it’s no longer about Britney the pop star it’s about Britney Jean, the person. She’s a human being, not a show pony,” the petition added.
“This conservatorship MUST BE INVESTIGATED! Some of these allegations are serious. An independent counsel should look into the treatment she is receiving from her conservator/father. Abuse in power in conservatorships is often rampant and easy to cover up. Where there is smoke there is fire. #FreeBritney,” the petition’s description concludes.
As of this writing, the petition has over 79,000 signatures with a goal of 150,000.
Two weeks ago another Change.org petition was created titled, “Britney Spears: right to her own lawyer.”
The description for the petition says that Spears has been held in conservatorship since 2008 and “this gives her conservator full control over her life, body and fiances/estate.”
“Conservatorships are typically used for SEVERELY mentally ill individuals or people in comas. Having been on 3 world tours with dangerous flying and fire stunts, it’s safe to say she is sane enough to feed and clothe herself,” the petition’s description continues. “With this conservatorship, she is unable to properly fight for her freedom as she isn’t legally allowed to hire her own lawyer.
“We need this petition so that Britney can hire her own lawyer and live a normal life as a 38-year-old woman with two kids.”
“Britney is deemed mentally stable enough to tour the world 3 times since 2007, but not to hire her own lawyer? We need Britney Spears to be deemed mentally stable enough to hire her own lawyer,” the petition adds.
The new petition currently has over 180,000 signatures with the goal of 200,000.
What is a conservatorship?
A conservatorship, known in some states as a guardianship, is an involuntary status usually reserved for elderly or very ill people who are suffering from dementia or otherwise incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves.
Rarely is it used for people as functional as Spears, who despite further problems — she has said in interviews that she struggles with bipolar disorder — has seen her career continue to thrive.
One was established for Spears 11 years ago during her very public meltdown and has been kept in place ever since. The arrangement has increasingly come under attack from fans, who have grown especially loud about it in recent months.
Spears has offered little public comment on the conservatorship. At her request, she addressed the judge who oversees it in court in May 2019. The hearing was closed and it’s not clear what Spears said, but the judge ordered a court review of her situation before another hearing in September 2019.
For years, Spears has been publicly silent about the severe restrictions on her decisions put in place by the conservatorship established in 2008, when she was having serious personal and psychiatric struggles.
Spears’ conservatorship has been extended to August of this year and her conservator has control over her finances, her estate, her health, signing documents, deciding where she lives and other important life decisions including her career.
The conservator also has the right to revoke the power of attorney on her behalf.
“The conservatorship is not a jail,” Larry Rudolph, Spears’ manager, told The Washington Post in 2019. “It helps Britney make business decisions and manage her life in ways she can’t do on her own right now.”
In 2019, Spears’ father temporarily stepped down as Spears’ conservator to “focus on his health” and her “care manager” Jodi Montgomery took over the role.
Spears mother, Lynne Spears, who is divorced from Jamie Spears, had no role in the conservatorship until Jamie was hospitalized.
Why is she under conservatorship?
Spears has been under a court-order conservatorship since February 2008 for unspecified mental health issues.
In the late 2000s, the Oops!… I Did It Again singer had a public breakdown. She was photographed driving a car with her infant son on her lap.
Spears also went through a phase of speaking with a British accent in 2008 and she was recorded using the accent again in 2018 at a concert in London at the O2.
In 2007 Spears shaved her head and was photographed attacking a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella.
In 2008 the singer was committed to a psychiatric ward under a 5150 hold, which means she was taken in involuntarily for evaluation, twice in the same month.
A 5150 hold is “the number of the section of the Welfare and Institutions Code, which allows an adult who is experiencing a mental health crisis to be involuntarily detained for a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization when evaluated to be a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled,” according to the Orange County Behavioral Health Agency.
After being committed the second time in January 2008, her father petitioned the Los Angeles County Superior Court to put her under “temporary conservatorship” as an emergency.
The temporary conservatorship was made permanent with her lawyer Andrew Wallet and Jamie Spears having long-term control of the Toxic singer’s assets, business affairs and life decisions.
Wallet resigned as co-conservator in 2019 which left her father in charge of the conservatorship.
The future of the singer’s conservatorship
The Womanizer singer’s conservatorship was extended until at least Aug. 22 of this year due to a hearing on the matter being postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
—With files from Global News’ Adam Wallis and The Associated Press