After nearly thirteen years in a conservatorship, pop music legend Britney Spears is getting greater attention surrounding her difficult past.
Documentaries such as Framing Britney Spears, which came out last month on Hulu, and the six-part YouTube series on the “Deep Dive” channel that has been releasing episodically since the end of 2020 discuss Spears’ early life, her breakdown, her conservatorship and how fans have taken the #FreeBritney movement to the streets.
Framing Britney Spears has received a lot of attention since its release, and the YouTube series on Deep Dive has had many viewers watching her story.
Britney Spears grew up in the small town of Kentwood, Louisiana. She later rose to fame through her appearance in “The Mickey Mouse Club” from 1992 to 1996 alongside Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguleira and Ryan Gosling.
After her time on the show, she returned home to finish high school.
In 1997, Spears received a record deal and started her pop music journey.
In 1998, Spears started dating Timberlake. Their breakup after three years led Timberlake to create the song “Cry Me A River” which deliberately fueled rumors that Spears had cheated on him. The video even included a Britney look-alike.
Framing Britney Spears includes a 2002 clip of Timberlake guest-starring on Hot 97 FM where he shared details about their sex life.
After the release of Framing Britney Spears, Timberlake apologized to Spears for his poor treatment of her.
In 2004, Spears married Kevin Federline and had two sons with him. The couple remained together until 2007 when they went through a divorce that ended in Federline gaining custody of their sons.
Throughout her career, Spears had been constantly bashed by the news and harassed by paparazzi, and 2007 seemed to be a breaking point for her.
At the time, she was dealing with the hardships of her divorce, the death of her Aunt Sandra, public comments from her exes about her sex life, her mother publishing a book about the lives of Britney and her sister Jamie Lynn and the knowledge that her mother was having contact with her fired manager Larry Rudolph. The book and her mother’s connection with Rudolph strained Britney’s relationship with her mother.
Ultimately, these events culminated in a breakdown for Spears during which she shaved her head and attacked a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella.
After Spears’ 2007 VMA performance received backlash, Chris Crocker came to her defense. Deep Dive’s video series showed the video of Crocker.
“I know it's hard to see Britney Spears as a human being, but trust me, she is; she’s a person,” Crocker said. “She’s like you or I — and I don't know about you, but I know that I would be pretty shaken up right now.”
In 2008, Spears' father, Jamie, became her conservator along with co-conservator Andrew Wallet. A conservatorship involves someone being legally arranged to help an individual who is unable to handle their own finances and day to day tasks due to physical or mental struggles.
In the 2008 documentary Britney: For the Record, Spears revealed how she was feeling about the conservatorship.
“If I wasn’t under the restraints that I’m under right now, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analyzing me every day and all that kind of stuff, if that wasn’t there, I’d feel so liberated and feel like myself,” Spears said.
As years went by, Britney’s conservatorship was little-discussed among the public.
In 2016, Spears appeared as a guest on the Johnathan Ross Show and brought up her conservatorship. She expressed that she felt many decisions were being made for her and that she wanted her new album “Glory” to be exclusively under her own creative direction.
The Jonathan Ross show edited out Spears’ comments about her conservatorship.
In 2009, a fan of Britney’s named Jordan Miller began a website called “Breathe Heavy” which began the Free Britney movement. Jamie Spears was angered by the site and told Miller that he wanted it to be shut down.
In 2017, a podcast called “Britney’s Gram” began discussing Britney’s Instagram posts. The host believed that she was trying to communicate through her posts that she felt trapped.
In 2019, Spears cancelled her residency and wrote in an announcement that the cancellation was due to a health issue with her father. She would not appear on social media for three months after that announcement which worried many of her sympathizers.
During this time, her co-conservator Andrew Wallet quit.
The podcast “Britney’s Gram” received a voicemail message from a paralegal for an attorney that was a part of Spears’ conservatorship. In it, the paralegal revealed that Spears had been involuntarily held in a mental facility since mid-January.
In 2021, the #FreeBritney movement remains active. On February 11, the Los Angeles Superior Court continued Spears’ conservatorship but overruled her father’s objections to Bessemer Trust being co-conservator of her estate. Bessemer Trust is a privately owned company that manages money for its clients and acts as a trustee or conservator for estates.
There is hope among Spears’ sympathizers that the new attention brought to her conservatorship by the movement may result in her regaining freedom after a long 13 years.