Why Britney Spears Fans Are Petitioning Congress for Her Freedom
The #FreeBritney movement continues to speak out against Britney Spears' conservatorship.
Britney Spears is one of the biggest pop icons in the world, but she hasn't been seen onstage since 2018. The past 12 years of her life have been mired in controversy following the star's public breakdown in 2007 and 2008, with much of the focus on the conservatorship that gives her father, Jamie Spears, significant control over her life. Now Britney's sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, is moving to take a more active role—and many Britney fans are clamoring for an end to the conservatorship for good.
Britney's conservatorship began in 2008 following a public breakdown, including an infamous head-shaving incident in front of paparazzi. Since then, Jamie Spears has been in charge of his daughter's $47 million estate, with broad control over Britney's life, including her schedule and finances, per The Washington Post. As Investopedia explains, a conservatorship involves the court appointing "a person to manage an incapacitated person or minor's financial and personal affairs. The conservator's duties include overseeing finances, establishing and monitoring the physical care of the conservatee or ward, and managing living arrangements."
As Britney's conservator, Jamie has been solely in charge of the singer's life and estate since his co-conservator Andrew M. Wallet resigned in March 2019. However, Jamie also stepped back from the role in Sept. 2019 due to health issues. For her part, Britney said earlier this month that she is "strongly opposed" to having her father return to the role of conservator and has recently petitioned the court to make her temporary conservator Jodi Montgomery the "permanent conservator of the entertainer's personal affairs."
On the financial side, Britney's sister, Jamie Lynn, is now asking to become the custodian of Britney's assets, the Los Angeles Times reports. Jamie Lynn was made the trustee of Britney's estate in 2018, and the new move would put all of Britney's finances into accounts that Jamie Lynn has control over. Cosmopolitan notes that many of the fans who oppose Britney's conservatorship consider this to be a good sign, and a step to protect Britney's assets.
Many of those fans have been using the hashtag #FreeBritney to register their support for the pop star, and to speak out against what they believe is unjust control of Britney's life. The #FreeBritney movement and hashtag were popularized by the podcast Britney's Gram and a now defunct blog by Anthony Elia, as Cosmopolitan reports. "Supporters of the #FreeBritney movement are adamant that Britney has been manipulated, is being controlled by her father and should have greater autonomy over her own life," the magazine explains.
In fact, a White House petition to address "the conservatorship and civil liberties of Britney Spears" has garnered 133,680 signatures since it was posted on July 9, more than the 100,000 signatures needed to get a response. "Conservatorships are typically used for those that are SEVERELY mentally ill," the petition states. "Since '08, she has been on 3 world tours with dangerous flying & fire stunts. It's safe to say she is sane enough to feed and cloth [sic] herself. 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."
The debate over Britney's conservatorship has been heated over the past two years. While there has been substantial backlash from concerned fans—and even from other pop stars, like Miley Cyrus—Business Insider notes that several sources close to the family have defended the conservatorship and said that Britney does have an active role in her own business dealings. On Aug. 1, Jamie Spears called the #FreeBritney movement a conspiracy theory in an interview with the New York Post.
"All these conspiracy theorists don't know anything," he told the newspaper. "The world don't have a clue. It's up to the court of California to decide what's best for my daughter. It's no one else's business."
Even with Jamie Lynn's new role as custodian of her sister's assets, however, the conservatorship is here to stay for the time being. On Aug. 21, Variety reported that the conservatorship was extended until at least Feb. 1, 2021. In the meantime, the #FreeBritney movement shows no signs of diminishing. In addition to the petition to Congress, a Change.org petition demanding that Britney have the "right to her own lawyer" has racked up nearly 260,000 signatures. And for the truth behind more celebrity gossip, discover 50 Totally Absurd Celeb Rumors That Some People Really Believe.