By John Arceno
With The New York Times documentary sparking increased interest surrounding Spears’ 13-year-long conservatorship, the pop star finally appeared in court on June 23 to publicly express her desire to end it, denouncing her family and her management for taking part in the alleged abuse.
In 2007, Spears was the subject of ridicule among news tabloids and gossip magazines. The media reported on her perceived parental irresponsibility as she drove with her baby on her lap and her infamous and impulsive decision to shave her head.
As the whole world watched her mental health deteriorate, her father James Spears was appointed as her conservator in 2008, allowing him full control over his daughter’s finances and assets.
NPR reported on the pop star’s conservatorship, noting that Spears once stated in a court filing that the conversatorship admittedly “rescued her from a collapse, exploitation by predatory individuals and financial ruin.” However, she has recently claimed that it also deprived her of a full life.
“I deserve to have a life. I worked my whole life,” Spears said. “I deserve to have a two to three year break to do what I want to do.”
In the conservatorship hearing, Britney stated that her manager allegedly threatened her into signing a contract, forcing her to partake in the “Britney Spears Piece of Me Tour 2018″ against her will. She said she could be sued if she refused to perform.
“With the conservatorship, I couldn’t even get my own attorney,” she said. “So out of fear, I went ahead and did the tour.”
Law professor Leslie Salzman explained to the news reporter at NPR that Spears’ conservatorship was unusual. Salzman said that conservatorships are usually placed on elderly people who suffer from a mental disorder so severe that they need a guardian or a conservator to take care of their affairs.
“Usually it’s not an individual who is young, who is working, who is very successful in their field,” Salzman said. “That suggests a level of capability that wouldn’t meet the standard for legal incapacity.”
But the conservatorship allegedly stripped Spears of her own autonomy. The pop star recounted an instance where her own management accused her of not taking her medication because she disapproved of a dance move during rehearsals.
“They all said I wasn’t participating in rehearsals and I never agreed to take my medications, which are only taken in the mornings, never at rehearsal,” she said. “They don’t even see me so why are they even claiming that?”
This instance led her therapist to prescribe her Lithium, a medication so strong that it could potentially cause brain damage among other things if taken too much, Spears alleged.
Amid all of this, the pop star said her family did not do anything to interfere. Her father told her she was going to be placed in a “small home in Beverly Hills” to complete a small rehab program her own team tailored for her. She was also told that she would have to pay 60,000 dollars a month.
“I cried on the phone for an hour and he loved every minute of it, the control he had over someone as powerful as me. He loved the control to hurt his own daughter,” the pop star said. “100,000% he loved it.”
Her conservatorship can only end after she undergoes a psychiatric exam approved by the state of California, she said. But she wants to end the conservatorship without being evaluated. She claims to have done her research and knows that a judge can end the conservatorship without it, and it can only be barred if a family member opposes it.
“I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work and provide money and work for myself and pay other people. It makes no sense,” Spears reasons out. “The laws need to change.”
People in the entertainment industry have expressed their support for Spears and the #FreeBritney movement. Missy Elliot went on Twitter to publicly extend her wish for the pop star to regain control over her life, as well as peace and strength.
Even Miley Cyrus, who Spears has cited in her opening statement as someone who’s “done wrong things” on stage without any proper repercussions, repeatedly screamed “Free Britney!” at her Las Vegas show on the Fourth of July.
Most notably, Christina Aguilera, Spears’ so-called “rival” during the height of their careers, tweeted in solidarity to her, The Mickey Mouse Club co-star. She voiced out her disdain toward the restrictions Spears is subjected to, saying that the pop star deserves to live her life on her own terms.
“To a woman who has worked under conditions and pressure unimaginable to most, I promise you she deserves all of the freedom possible to live her happiest life. My heart goes out to Britney,” Aguilera tweeted.
Toward the end of her opening statement, Spears said that she is “tired of feeling alone.” Yet as she exposes all the suffering she said she had to endure, it’s certain she won’t feel alone for long, especially with her supporters stopping at nothing until she is free from her conservatorship.
John Arceno is an incoming fourth year English and Political Science student at UCLA. He is passionate about the arts and transfer advocacy. His involvement within the SoCal Dance community informed his decision to pursue entertainment law, and he hopes to apply to law schools in the upcoming application cycle.