Free Britney

Internationally renowned pop star Britney Spears’ journey to freedom

Art+by+Kellyn+Scheel

Art by Kellyn Scheel

Britney Spears has had enough. On June 23, 2021, Spears addressed the L.A. Court, asking to end her conservatorship. “All I want is to own my money, for this to end and for my boyfriend to drive me in his car,” Spears said. “This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good. I deserve to have a life. […] I’m tired of feeling alone. I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does by having a child, a family, any of those things, and more.”

Following her hospitalization for a public breakdown in Feb. 2008, Spears was placed in a conservatorship under her father, Jamie Spears. The legal arrangement gave Jamie Spears the right to control Britney’s personal affairs, career and finances. 

A year later, in 2009, the fan-led #FreeBritney movement was born. Supporters began to speculate that Spears was forced to perform in front of millions of fans yet was unable to make her own medical and financial decisions. 

I deserve to have a life. […] I’m tired of feeling alone. I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does by having a child, a family, any of those things, and more.”

— Britney Spears

Public outrage at Britney’s lack of agency over her own life fueled millions of followers to lend their support via protests and social media. In addition, participants in the movement offered public statements of support and applied pressure to the judicial system to take a closer look at Spears’s conservatorship.  

“There are a bunch of different types of conservatorships, different jurisdictions meaning different governments handle [conservatorships in] different ways,” Associate Justice to the Los Angeles California Court of Appeal, Dorothy Kim said. “There are voluntary conservatorships and involuntary conservatorships. In Britney’s case, her conservatorship was voluntary.” This means that Spears initially agreed to be conserved. 

Conservatorships can sometimes be beneficial, such as in cases of elderly or sick people who may have difficulty making their own decisions.

“A friend of mine did a conservatorship for her elderly mother. She went to court, and she was declared to be the conservator of her mother’s affairs,” Justice Kim said. “The court found that the mom could not take care of herself and make decisions for herself. I’ve talked to her about it, and I know she thought that [a conservatorship] was the best option.” 

Despite the legal rationale for conservatorship, many fans have voiced their concern for Britney, like Paly graduate Shannon Scheel. “I think when people become famous at such a young age, there’s such a discrepancy between how their lives change and how much control they have over them,” Scheel said. “Mental health 25 years ago was not in the forefront in the same way as it is today, especially with women.”

“Conservatorships are usually reserved for people who are unable to take care of themselves and their finances such as people with severe mental disabilities, Britney was not someone who fell into any of these categories which made it confusing as to why she was forced to enter a conservatorship,” Jacobi said.  

I ended up celebrating with some of my girlfriends after we heard the news. It was fun and emotional because we all felt like Britney can finally live her life without someone controlling everything she does..”

— Isabelle Jacobi, junior

How does this 13-year journey conclude? As of Nov. 12, L.A. County Judge Brenda Penny ruled to discontinue Spears’s conservatorship that had been in place for almost 14 years. 

The ruling is very exciting to Spears herself, who can begin to make her own decisions, living a life full of freedom, but also to the many fans who played an essential role by bringing the #FreeBritney movement to social media and sparking the nation’s outrage on its importance.

“I ended up celebrating with some of my girlfriends after we heard the news,” junior and Britney fan Isabelle Jacobi said. “It was fun and emotional because we all felt like Britney can finally live her life without someone controlling everything she does.” 

Senior Giana Parigi observed how the news unified her entire class when the ruling came out. “I was so happy when I found out the news,” Parigi said.. “I was in class actually… [I] announced ‘Guys, Britney is free’ and everyone started clapping.”