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Why does the internet think Britney Spears needs to be set free?

Britney Spears is indisputably a pop icon. With nine studio albums under her belt, a slew of iconic guest features and appearances in pop culture, and two Glee episodes devoted to her influence, it’s a fact that Britney has cemented herself in our cultural history.

But Spears’s success has not come without its fair share of challenges. Anyone with  a pulse can recall the period around 2007, when the effects of fame took their toll on her in the form of a highly publicized breakdown. As a result of her mental health decline, Britney’s father implemented a conservatorship over her that is still in place today.

What’s a conservatorship, and why does Britney need to be freed from its clutches? Find out in our recap of the #FreeBritney movement below.

What’s happening with Britney?

In 2008 after the shaved head and the smashing of a paparazzi car window with an umbrella – in our opinion, she did what she had to – Britney was placed under a conservatorship that granted her father Jamie Spears (not be confused with his other daughter Jamie Lynn Spears) control of pretty much every facet of Britney’s life.

Following the events of 2007, Britney was placed in an involuntary psychiatric facility and lost the legal ability to make any decision for herself. Usually conservatorships are reserved for the eldery or disabled, but Jamie – with the help of Andrew Wallet, an attorney who would later serve as co-conservator – assured the court this was a necessary step in Britney’s road to recovery.

A month later, Britney was already killing the game. She guest-starred on How I Met Your Mother, opened the MTV Video Music Awards, and released Circus to critical acclaim. All of these achievements are just examples of how Britney was being exploited, according to the members and founders of the #FreeBritney movement.

Let’s talk about the #FreeBritney movement

In 2017, comedians Tess Barker & Barbara Gray started a podcast called Britney’s Gram, dedicated to dissecting the Princess of Pop’s unique Instagram posts like her balcony painting session. But the hosts ended up stumbling on what Rolling Stone referred to as a “pop-music version of Watergate”. In October 2018, Andrew Wallet requested a raise, which piqued the suspicions of the podcast hosts.

In January 2019, Britney’s newest Vegas residency, Domination, was cancelled less than three months after being announced. An Instagram post “written” by Britney cited her father’s declining health as the reasoning for the cancellation, as well as a desire to spend time with family.

Three days before the cancellation announcement, Britney was spotted at an In-N-Out Burger drive through with her boyfriend at the time. This was a huge deal to Barker & Gray, since Britney was reportedly not allowed to drive under her conservatorship. Then, Britney disappeared from the social media scene – and from the public eye. 

Three months later in March 2019, Wallet resigned from his position as legal rep, reporting that “irreparable harm and immediate danger” would befall Britney if the hold on her freedom were not lifted soon.

Social media investigation

Jamie filed a request to relieve himself as conservator temporarily; Britney’s care manager Jodi Montgomery took over in early 2019. Montgomery is slated to remain in charge until August 22nd, 2020. The decision behind this choice is still unclear, but speculation has arisen about Jamie’s credentials as a business leader after his own stints in rehab and consistent teetering on bankruptcy in the past. 

To thicken the plot, after Jamie stepped down as conservator in 2019, Britney checked into a facility under the guise of coping with her father’s health. 

However, Barker & Gray got a mysterious voicemail from an anonymous attorney who claimed the hospitalization and residency cancellation happened against Britney’s will and that she was actually being held on Jamie’s orders because she refused to take her medication.

Fans held a protest outside of West Hollywood City Hall in April 2019 and Britney was released days later, but the drama didn’t stop there. 

Continuing into 2020, fans have been asking questions of the pop star about her safety and they believe that Britney is responding to them in code. In one example, a commenter asked her to wear yellow if she was in danger, and in the next post, Britney was in a yellow shirt. More and increasingly urgent encoded communications have followed.

How the Spears feel about #FreeBritney

In an interview on the As NOT Seen on TV podcast, Britney’s brother Bryan Spears remarked that “there was a need for it in the beginning” but now things have progressed to a point in which “having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating.” He believes Britney’s freedom is necessary for her future success. 

Last month, sister Jamie Lynn Spears broke her silence on the situation, remarking that if you or someone you know has experienced mental illness “then you know how important it is to respect the situation with privacy”. When pushed on the topic of Britney, she responded with “I have NO right to speak about HER health . . . she is a strong, badass, unstoppable woman and that’s the only thing that is OBVIOUS.”

The rest of the Spears family has reportedly been planning on giving more interviews to sway public support, but Britney’s lawyers appear displeased about the prospects.

What’s next for #FreeBritney?

According to The Blast, Britney was due back in court on July 22nd to discuss ending her conservatorship case. But when the day finally arrived, the hearing was postponed – apparently due to fans of the pop star crashing the private Zoom link. 

Right now, a fan-led petition asks Congress to intervene in the situation. The conservatorship has been extended to August 22nd, or “the conclusion of the pandemic.”

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