The Free Britney Movement

Published on July 27, 2020

You may have noticed the words “Free Britney” floating around the internet a lot lately. It’s not a new movement, but it’s been picking up traction again after a series of strange Instagram posts by beloved pop star Britney Spears.

The Background

Britney Spears, 38, is a pop star, actress, artist, and American icon. She is the mother of two boys, has sold over 100 million records worldwide, and is known as the Princess of Pop. Spears has also been under a legal conservatorship since 2008, after a series of public incidents and psychiatric problems.

Spears began behaving erratically in 2007. She was ultimately placed on a 51/50 hold in January 2008 after she refused to return her young sons to her ex-husband, Kevin Federline. A judge granted temporary legal guardianship to Spears’ father and the family’s attorney. That temporary guardianship eventually became permanent.

This conservatorship gives Spears’ guardians full control over her career, her $59 million fortune, and the visitation of her children. Spears has now been under conservatorship for 12 years, which is a highly unusual arrangement.

Courts usually use conservatorship for those with severe dementia and those with extreme mental disabilities. For someone as young as Spears, and someone who is clearly able to work and be productive on a high level, this kind of conservatorship is almost unheard of (except in the case of another young female star, but we’ll get to that).

The Theories

Spears’ legal guardianship has raised questions from the very beginning. As the years have gone on, fans have become more and more outspoken. Many think the conservatorship is simply a means of controlling Spears and her immense wealth. Fans’ concern and their theories on the conservatorship are now known as the Free Britney movement.

The Free Britney movement has pointed out that the conservators are in a position to gain financially from this arrangement. In 2018, Spears spent $1.1 million in conservator fees. Of that, $128,000 went directly to her father, according to financial documents obtained by ET. Yes, that’s right.

Spears’ team continues to argue that the legal guardianship is necessary for her mental and financial well being, while Spears herself repeatedly reassures fans on social media that she is doing just fine.

Fans cite various “clues” from Spears as evidence that the conservatorship is in place to manipulate and control her. In her Instagram comments, fans asked that if she is in trouble and needs help to wear yellow in the next video. In the next several videos, Spears was wearing yellow.

Fans often use the lyrics to her songs, like “Lucky” and “Overprotected”, as evidence that Spears is suffering. Although, both songs came out before the conservatorship.

Britney Isn’t The Only One

While conservatorships are normally reserved for the elderly or very ill, Spears is not the only young female celebrity who is under legal guardianship. Amanda Bynes, 33, has been under conservatorship since 2013. Her story is actually quite similar to Spears’, although her guardianship hasn’t raised anywhere near as much controversy.

The court granted Bynes’ mother temporary conservatorship over Bynes after substance abuse issues and mental health problems culminated in a series of strange incidents. A judge eventually renewed and extended the temporary conservatorship until at least August 2020.

What’s Next For Britney?

On Friday, Spears had a Zoom hearing to discuss her case and her conservatorship. These hearings are a regular part of the guardianship process and occur periodically. This latest one was crashed by Free Britney protestors, who stayed on the call for two hours in protest. The judge eventually gave up and rescheduled the hearing.

The next hearing, whenever it may be, will not likely bring any significant changes to Spears’ case. No one has ever filed any motion to eliminate the conservatorship. Despite reports that Spears wants out, as well as fan’s concerns, it seems, for now, the conservatorship is here to stay.

Olivia Smith is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers events, entertainment, fashion, and technology. She also serves as a Voices contributor at PopSugar.

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