Britney Spears is free, but only half free. The Los Angeles Superior Court has suspended her father’s guardianship on Thursday in a crucial trial for the artist. Now, a California accountant will be in charge of overseeing your finances on a temporary basis.
‘Free Britney Spears’: chronicle of the movement against the tutelage of the pop icon
The verdict coincides with the premiere of the documentary film Britney vs Spears on Netflix. Journalists Jenny Eliscu and filmmaker Erin Lee Carr have uncovered confidential documents, secret files and testimonies that demonstrate the manipulation that Britney has been subjected to since 2008 to deprive her of her fundamental rights.
I can not sleep. I am very angry, depressed. I cry every day. I do not understand how the State of California has all this in writing and has not done anything. My father and everyone involved in this guardianship should be in jail
– June 2020 trial
Unlike the previous and controversial documentary, Framing Britney Spears, this does not reproduce the famous scene of the umbrella with the shaved head, which showed it to the world as an alienated being. Nor does it focus attention on the artist’s love affairs because, as happened in real life, underneath that morbidity, huge legal grievances were taking place against the artist. That is the thesis of Britney vs Spears, who only mentions his ex-partners for the harm they inflicted on him or for their relationship with the abusive guardianship system.
The dichotomy that Jamie Spears, her legal guardian, was interested in was showing that Britney was crazy but working hard for the sake of her mental health. In this way the father kept her under his yoke and exploited his goose that laid the golden eggs. She did it because the threats were constant. And although the press focuses attention on the issue of wealth, which is not yet fully accessible, what really scared him was losing custody of his children, not a few million dollars.
The two women who have made the documentary represent the reason why this case goes beyond fanaticism and has become a trial of historical scope. The filmmaker, Carr, approached the figure of the artist out of adoration. Britney Spears had always been his reference. Instead, Eliscu, a journalist for Rolling Stone, got involved from a human point of view: she met her during two in-depth reports and was captivated by her kindness and sweetness, but had never been interested in her music.
Britney’s campaign for freedom has often been viewed from the outside as a geek thing. Now, it is the example of how easy it is to infantilize an adult woman with a successful career before the impassive gaze of everyone. A world that preferred to ridicule her to empathize with her abduction. Britney vs Spears it reveals confidential files that were impossible to know at the time, but it also recovers the few cries for help that the victim herself managed to emit. The problem is that nobody wanted to hear them.
“A legal death”
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Britney was not only a talented artist, but she had already proven herself as a business shark and eloquent woman in her public appearances. But no one found it surprising that just four years later she had mutated into an insane being with no control over herself. At least according to the account of the pink press and her ex-husband, the dancer Kevin Ferderline.
The divorce and the lawsuit for the custody of her two children were the beginning of the end for Britney, a person already harassed by the paparazzi and that she was persecuted for a specific purpose: to benefit her ex-husband at the trial. Ferderline’s lawyer appears in the documentary and admits it himself. “It was the first time that I had to work with the media so that they treated my client well,” he admits.
Despite the hell she lived through during this time, Britney simultaneously released what would be her best album: Blackout. The songs, which were full of references to his freedom, he wrote one morning on a Starbucks napkin. He was also clear about the choreography and even the lighting that he was going to use on stage. “He is in his right mind; an insane person could not do that,” defends the colleague who witnessed his moment of inspiration.
After refusing to hand over her children to her ex’s bodyguard, Britney totally lost custody in 2008. That episode began what until now has been known as “guardianship”, which was actually a “guardianship” on paper. This supposedly allowed the father to decide only on some matters, but it ended up becoming a de facto domain because it influenced his health, his wealth and his business. “Some people liken it to a legal death,” says an experienced attorney on the subject. At that point it was going to be temporary.
“A conservatorship has very particular norms: the person must be unable to satisfy their needs for food, clothing, health and housing. In other words: I have represented dozens in court of ward and none has ever had a job,” adds the lawyer . Jamie and her legal advisers – a pair of ultra-Catholics she met at church – managed to prevent Britney from resorting to guardianship – she had five days by law – or choosing her own attorney. They gave him one ex officio who resigned last 2020 after the trial became mediatic and his complicity with Spears’s father became clear.
Bought doctors and complicit lawyers
Neither doctors nor lawyers go unpunished in Britney vs Spears. The former’s medical reports, until now confidential, were inconsistent and stated that Britney Spears suffered from dementia while allowing her to carry out marathon hours of work. One of those doctors appears in the documentary and is unable to affirm that the artist suffered from dementia, despite having put it in writing.
In these 13 years Britney has released an album, participated in series, designed her concerts, rehearsed until she was exhausted, has made three world tours and has led a fixed show in La Vegas every weekend for five years.
Meanwhile she was aware of what her father and his lawyers were doing to her, and quietly asked several friends for help. Two of them appear in the documentary. If her guardians found out, they would take away custody of her children. In fact, in 2009, after discovering that he had secretly applied for a new attorney, Jamie applied for permanent guardianship. The judge agreed and at that moment they turned a 29-year-old woman into a pre-adolescent. If you wanted to go out for a hamburger with your partner, you had to ask for it; if you wanted money to buy books for your children, the answer could take days.
From that moment he dedicated himself to working tirelessly. Later, in the 2020 trial, she acknowledged that it was out of obligation and that her father used her to pay million-dollar bills for his lawyers and maintain his opulent lifestyle.
But not only that: she decided to drug Britney with stimulants on work days and switch from her usual medication to lithium. They did not allow him to speak in public, but sometimes, when he was on stage, he would send the odd very unsubliminal message. “Having a microphone in hand, with no music on the back, seems like something illegal to me,” he once told attendees in Las Vegas.
In 2019 Britney requested a restraining order from her father for having been violent in front of his children. Although it was granted, he remained their legal guardian from a distance. In 2020 alone, after the artist’s first trial, Jamie resigned as her “guardian” and recommended that the guardianship end. Along the way, he and his allies have amassed several million dollars. But freedom weighs more than gold.
They took away the medication I had been taking for five years and gave me lithium. Not only did my family not lift a finger, but my father supported him. He enjoyed every minute. The control I had over someone as powerful as me I enjoyed one hundred thousand percent