More than twenty years after she took the world by storm in ’98 with Hit Me Baby One More Time, Britney Spears has become more of a cultural icon and a simulacrum of her former glory than anything we can nowadays hold onto.
But unsurprisingly, Britney is still around, boasting a not-so-humble Instagram following of 25 million. Over the years, the singer has been at the centre of various controversies – including her infamous public breakdowns – and perhaps even more perplexingly, the lesser-known issue of her conservatorship. In many ways, it feels like the hyperbolic life of the world’s most iconic pop star is like something out of a Black Mirror episode. Except that, it kind of is – albeit the other way around. As the #FreeBritney movement begins to regain momentum, we dove into the strange and complex world of Britney Spears.
As the #FreeBritney movement resurges, we delve into the dark realities of the conservatorship of Britney Spears and its unsettling parallels with Black Mirror.
Many people don’t know, but Britney has been under the conservatorship of her father Jamie Spears since a less-than-private breakdown which occurred in 2008. This means that Britney has no access to her estate, as well as her financial or personal assets. She can’t even vote.
It’s an arrangement which not-so-subtly echoes the dynamic between Ashley O (played by Miley Cyrus) and her domineering Aunt Catherine, in Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too; the last episode of the fifth (and so far final) season of Black Mirror. Much like Catherine and Ashley O, Jamie controls everything when it comes to the life of Britney. Early documents show that Jamie’s reason for filing for conservatorship was that Britney – at this point in her twenties – had early-onset dementia.
When speaking in a 2008 MTV documentary, the singer expressed a disconcerting sentiment about the sense of imprisonment she felt in her own life, admitting: “I don’t feel like [my life] is out of control. I feel like it’s too in control.”
In 2009, a fan site started the movement to free Britney, one which aimed to liberate Britney from what appeared to be the oppressive care of her father. Fans believed that Jamie was using the legal arrangement to control and manipulate his daughter, who is worth approximately $85 million.
Fast forward to the present day, and the earliest that Britney’s conservatorship arrangement could potentially end is August 22, 2020 – a date which is, coincidentally, just around the corner. As a result, the #FreeBritney movement has recently re-gained worldwide attention, and elsewhere, Britney herself has even taken to her Instagram to address her (admittedly eccentric) page. However, Britney’s reassurances have left many unconvinced, and #FreeBritney continues to trend on TikTok with over 50 million posts. Who knows what’s going to happen from here.
For all this and more, check out our video above.