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Thursday, October 1, 2020

The online movement for #FreeBritney

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Fans, worried about a tutelage controlling Spears’ estate, began scanning her Instagram account for clues to her well-being.

Photograph by Jean Baptiste Lacroix / WireImage / Getty

“All eyes on me, in the center of the ring, just like a circus”, sang Britney Spears, in 2008. Indeed, from the very beginning, the pop singer’s career has been defined as much visually as by the auditory one. A small artist from Kentwood, Louisiana, who first appeared at Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Club” when she was eleven, Spears broke into the widest possible public consciousness in 1998 with her multi-platinum debut single. , “… Baby One More Time”. Spears’ voice was like thick honey pressed through a sieve, but her appearance in the music video was at least as memorable. Wearing a white button tied over an exposed navel, a kilted bottom paired with knee socks, and two braids pinned in pink bows, the Spears Lolita Catholic student instantly defined the dominant version of turn-of-the-millennium youth: blonde and tanned , with her bare navel rising above a low waistband, she was half girl and half “Girls Gone Wild”. In the five years that followed, Spears was perhaps the most successful pop star in the world and a master of image making. In 1999 she posed for the cover of Rolling Stone in a black push-up bra and candy pink shorts, with a princess phone held to her ear. In 2001, at the MTV Music Awards, she paired a shimmering belly dancer dress with a real pale yellow python. The same year, she wore her all-denim pairing with her then-boyfriend, Justin Timberlake, on the red carpet of the American Music Awards.

But as Spears’ life became more complicated, even the once tight control over the visuals of his career became more shaky. After her relationship with Timberlake ended, she married a childhood friend named Jason Alexander in 2004 in Las Vegas, although that union was canceled after fifty-five hours. In the same year, she married Kevin Federline, one of her backup dancers, and then had two children in quick succession. The couple bitterly divorced in 2007. During those years, Spears’ life was mediated to the public less by the red carpets and more by the paparazzi of the tabloids: she was caught crawling into a gas station bathroom barefoot, as she exits a car en route to a club without underwear and drives with one of her young children on her lap rather than strapped to a car seat. Between 2007 and 2008, she had a prolonged mental breakdown, during which her circumstances were not only endlessly documented by photographers, but apparently aggravated by their presence: she shaved her hair, reportedly more than seventy paparazzi. they observed; attacked a photographer’s car with an umbrella; She was brought from home tied to a stretcher, after a substance-induced rupture, on her way to the first of two involuntary psychiatric outlets 5150.

In 2008, in the midst of this collapse, a court instituted protection over his possessions, possessions and personal well-being, which twelve years later is still in place. Such guardianship, also known as legal guardianship in some states, is usually used in cases of people who are unable to make their own decisions, such as the elderly or the mentally or physically infirm. Under the restrictions of guardianship, a 2016 Times In the Spears business investigation, the singer “cannot make key decisions, personal or financial, without the approval of her conservatives: her father, Jamie Spears, and a lawyer, Andrew M. Wallet. Her most mundane purchases, from a drink at Starbucks to a song on iTunes, are recorded in court documents. “But the Spears case proved rare as she has also worked steadily over the past twelve years, releasing several albums , going on world tours, acting as a judge on the television show “The X Factor” and, for four years, starring in a residency in Las Vegas. Times piece suggested that if its apparent stability continued, the restrictions of guardianship might loosen. In subsequent years, however, the protection remained in effect. The only time Spears has publicly discussed her feelings about it was in a 2008 documentary, in which she compared her situation to “Groundhog Day,” suggesting that what separates guardianship from jail terms is that the former is “endless.” But as her public appearances are highly controlled and capturing her outside of her music videos or theatrical performances has become increasingly rare, her sense of her predicament has largely remained an enigma.

One key sphere that might allow for a less mediated look into Spears’ daily life, however, is his Instagram account, where he has nearly twenty-six million followers and posts regularly. Until early 2019, a combination of thought-provoking quotes (“Love for yourself: it costs nothing and you get it all”), exuberant jokes (“Think you know me? Think again”), exercise videos and heavily filtered flower images, butterflies and kittens – in the fashion of Instagram circa 2014 – all tied to a seemingly random smattering of emojis, made Spears’ tale seem “delightfully simple,” in the words of the website Highsnobiety. He was likable, even welcoming: the singer looked like a wealthy suburban mom who led her best life several years behind the trend curve, rather than a global pop star.

But, starting in 2019, several crises have occurred in the Spears empire. In March of that year, Wallet, the Dickensian name, resigned from his position as a co-conservative with no explanation. And, in a hearing in September last year, Jamie Spears, who had broken his colon several months earlier, asked a judge for permission to temporarily step down from his role as a conservative to focus on his health. The judge ruled that Britney’s care manager Jodi Montgomery would take over the personal aspects of guardianship, while Jamie Spears remained in charge of the star’s affairs. (The call for the Conservative change also came in the wake of an alleged altercation between Jamie and one of Spears’ teenagers, after which a restraining order was granted to children against their grandfather.)

More troubling, perhaps, was Spears’ announcement in January 2019 that she would cancel her new Las Vegas residency and take a break from work due to her father’s health, after which her Instagram remained black for three months. In early April, TMZ reported being admitted to a mental health facility. Amid the general caution of Spears’ venture, these changes have served as a clue to fans that something may be wrong. In May of 2019, Larry Rudolph, a longtime manager at Spears, said in Washington To send that star protection “is not a prison. Help Britney make business decisions and manage her life in ways she can’t do on her own right now. “But the fans were suspicious. Was Spears in trouble? Were her adult woman rights violated under the terms of guardianship? The #FreeBritney hashtag started gaining popularity on Instagram. Fuel added to the movement’s fire.” when, in a phone call made the same month to “Britney’s Gram,” a Spears-themed podcast, an anonymous whistleblower who said he was connected to a guardianship-related law firm, claimed that Spears was coerced into his willingness to cancel his residency and enter a mental health facility in January, months earlier than was reported.

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