When the Free Britney movement first made its way into the headlines in 2019, the viral videos and posts, largely shared on TikTok, were at first written off as conspiracy theories. Fans pointed to anything from the colour of top Spears was wearing in an Instagram post, to the use of certain emojis in captions as proof the pop star was held against her will by her father, Jamie Spears, in the conservatorship she has been under since 2008.
When a New York Times documentary came out earlier this year titled Framing Britney Spears, it was clear the nuances of Spears’ legal situation was finally being taken seriously by the media, subsequently validating the messages her fans had been screaming at rallies for Spears for years.
But soon after, Spears herself—who has never spoken publicly about the terms of her conservatorship, nor her feelings toward her father—seemingly shut down the documentary on her Instagram account. The star wrote that her “life has always been very speculated”, “watched” and “judged”. She noted she “didn’t watch the documentary”, but from what she did see, she “was embarrassed by the light they put me in … I cried for two weeks and well …. I still cry sometimes,” she wrote.
Spears’ statement prompted some to wonder if, well, we’d gotten the wrong end of the stick. Perhaps the singer’s father is trying his best to help his daughter, who suffered from a very public mental breakdown in 2008. Perhaps we don’t know what’s going on as much as we think we do. Perhaps we should all… leave her alone?
Now, however, there seems to be proof of Spears’ situation, and perhaps also proof of some fans’ theories that she doesn’t have as much control over her social media as we think she does. According to confidential court records newly obtained by The New York Times, Spears has been expressing “serious opposition” to the court-approved arrangement of her conservatorship since at least 2014.
A court investigator assigned to her case wrote in a 2016 report that the singer “articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her,” adding that she said the system had “too much control.” Spears went on to tell the investigator that she wanted her conservatorship to be terminated as soon as possible. “She is ‘sick of being taken advantage of’ and she said she is the one working and earning her money but everyone around her is on her payroll,” the investigator wrote. In 2019, Spears also stated in court that she felt like she was being forced by her conservatorship into a “stay at a mental health facility and to perform against her will.”
According to these court records, Spears requested her father be taken off as her main guardian as early as 2014. Last year, her court-appointed lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III told the judge that the pop star is “afraid of her father” and “will not perform again” as long as he’s in charge of her career.
The sealed court documents come ahead of a huge moment for Spears. For the first time ever, Spears is scheduled to address the court herself on Wednesday US-time to discuss the “status of the conservatorship.” According to the Times, it’s unclear whether her comments will be made public, but thousands are expected to take to the streets to rally for her freedom in LA and beyond at the time of the hearing.