Op-Ed: Britney Spears’ Conservatorship


Gwyneth Katker

Famous people might not have as glamorous of a life as you would think, a lot more goes on behind closed doors than some may believe. In 2019, many people grew concern for Britney Spears after many questionable events. Photo: Yahoo

Sejal Mohan, Reporter

Many of us are familiar with pop singer and sensation Britney Spears. We know she has been through a lot, remembering her personal struggles with substance abuse and the #FreeBritney hashtag that went viral in 2019. 

 Senior Himashi Liyanarachchi, comments on Britney’s publicized trauma: “Just like anyone else, she has a right to her own privacy. Seeing her breakdowns spread across the internet, whether it be because of paparazzi or those close to her, is heartbreaking. It’s a painful experience and she definitely doesn’t deserve to be made a spectacle for shock value. It prevents any progress and dehumanizes her in the public eye.” 

 A conservatorship is when someone else gets to control another’s financial and day-to-day tasks because the recipient has been deemed unable to take care of themselves because of any complications. Recently, she has been placed again in conservatorship, but it really started in 2008.

Another senior Max Ivanov says, “I think conservatorships could be a good thing if used correctly. If someone isn’t in the right headspace to make important decisions, then appointing someone trusted to do so seems logical. That being said, I think it’s difficult to draw the line where someone actually needs one enacted and who can be trusted to manage financial decisions.

Spears was under a conservatorship in 2008 because she was seen unfit to take care of her children, eventually losing custody of them. Her custody under conservatorship was supposed to end that year, as well, but it didn’t. This fact was largely ignored until recent years, when the conservatorship’s true nature was revealed, raising suspicions. 

Ivanov also said “I don’t think the Britney Spears’ situation is fair to her. Spears has some quirks in her attitude that may sound some alarms, but overall she seems like she should be fairly competent in making important financial decisions. Ultimately though, I don’t know enough about her on a personal level to truly make an educated call on the matter.”

In 2019, Spears had a hard time managing the news of her father’s illness and her tasks and ended up putting her tour on hiatus until she felt she was both emotionally and mentally healthy enough to continue. Her father was the one in charge of her previous conservatorship, and the co-conservator resigned after his illness. It was also revealed that she was illegally forced to stay at a facility through a conservatorship terminated in 2008. She got placed in the facility after she broke the conservatorship’s rule that forbade her from driving.

Liyanarachchi also states “If it was initially agreed that she would be out of her conservatorship by 2008, then it is wrong for her to still be caught up in that. I’m assuming it wasn’t renewed, implying that she is capable of making her own financial decisions. If she is not, it would make sense for her to still be under a conservatorship, but it would still have needed to have been renewed.”

This led to the #FreeBritney hashtag joke, which eventually evolved into a serious matter.  Celebrities and influencers on social media began to use this hashtag earnestly, finding this situation unfair and exploitative. Yet despite their efforts to prevent further misuse, Spears was placed under temporary conservatorship again under her manager Jodi Montgomery.

During 2020, Spears faced even more conflict, leading to her lawyer placing her under a conservatorship permanently with Montgomery until February 2021. During the conservatorship, she continued to release content. Right on time, Spears’ new movie, Framing Britney Spears, released as the contract ended. This film showcased the struggles she had to face, from her publicized breakdown to her conservatorships. As the world finally got a better picture of the control Spears’ agency had over her, people were empathetic and felt sorry for all the traumatic experiences she had to go through. Numerous celebrities have made the “We are sorry Britney” trend on Twitter after the movie, expressing their anger towards the conservatorships and care for Spears.