The #FreeBritney campaign has been one of modern pop culture’s strangest and most beguiling trends, as well as one of its most questionably conspiratorial. The fight for Britney Spears to regain some semblance of control over her personal life has been one of fascination to the outside world for many years now. It’s a topic of legal dissections, tin-hat theories of wild speculation, and even a feminist cause. How is it that a 38-year-old woman who is one of the most famous women alive, someone who has worked non-stop since she was a child and has two children of her own, isn’t considered capable of making her own decisions?
We may never get the full picture of Spears’s battles — and it’s probably best that we don’t since her mental wellbeing is none of our business — but her recent legal fight to remove her father from the conservatorship has filled the headlines for months now. Spears’s ex-husband Kevin Federline obtained a restraining order against Jamie Spears following an alleged physical altercation between him and Sean, their oldest son. Jamie Spears has fought to retain control of the conservatorship, even as Britney herself opposed it. A court-appointed guardian has been in charge of her affairs since her public breakdown in 2008, and now her team is fighting to allow the public to know what’s going on.
Jamie Spears recently filed a motion to have recent filings in the case sealed, something that Britney’s team is against. Her lawyer Samuel Ingham III said in a court filing on Thursday, ‘The world is watching’ and that she is ‘vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret.’
He also wrote:
‘At this point in her life when she is trying to regain some measure of personal autonomy, Britney welcomes and appreciates the informed support of her many fans […] Britney’s conservatorship has attracted an unprecedented level of scrutiny from mainstream media and social media alike. Far from being a conspiracy theory or a ‘joke’ as James reportedly told the media, in large part this scrutiny is a reasonable and even predictable result of James’ aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimize the amount of meaningful information made available to the public.’
This is the first tangible form of support that Spears herself has given to the fan-led #FreeBritney movement, which has taken to protesting outside the courthouse as well as continuing their long-running online campaign. Jamie Spears publicly called the #FreeBritney campaign ‘a joke’ run mostly by ‘conspiracy theorists.’
It’s worth noting that Jamie Spears isn’t entirely in the wrong here. Don’t get me wrong, the dude is clearly a scheming creep and I don’t blame Britney for wanting him out of the picture. The #FreeBritney fans, however, have been prone to some deeply suspicious conspiratorial thinking, the likes of which doesn’t particularly help Britney’s case. We don’t need Instagram dissections of her social media with ‘proof’ that a slight glint in her eye or whatever is irrefutable evidence that she’s being kept imprisoned.
Still, there’s a reason #FreeBritney has caught on in the public consciousness to the point where Spears herself felt the need to call them out in support. Spears is incredibly easy to root for. She’s been through hell and back, and her troubles were all too frequently the stuff of pop culture punchlines and sh*tty misogyny. It was the default mode to mock her for her obviously gut-wrenching public breakdown rather than call for help or tell the press to back off. After so many years of being derided, dismissed, or outright torn apart by the public, there is something kind of heartening about seeing this near-universal support for her in her hour of need. She has lived such a painfully public life and she’s clearly aware of the power that can hold, for good or bad.
Spears’s conservatorship is voluntary, but she doesn’t want her dad involved in any way, and even for us voyeurs looking in with the scant information we have, it’s tough to dismiss her drive and desires. Let the woman be, world.
Header Image Source: Getty Images.