Known as the Princess of Pop, Britney Spears is an icon. This singer and all-around musical legend has become one of the most famous celebrities in the world. But there’s no doubt about the fact that she’s also become one of the most controversial. And thanks to a new New York Times documentary about the starlet, more and more people are beginning to question her life, her career, and the events that have led to her current conservatorship.
Yes, Britney Spears has been under the control of her father for over ten years now. And while aspects of her personal life and her struggles were often glossed over by higher authorities in her life, more and more information has now been brought to the world’s attention. Now, we’re all looking at her story from a different point of view and understanding what really happened to Britney Spears.
Britney Had Her First Taste of Stardom When She Was Just 11 Years Old
while many people still remember Britney Spears as a teen pop star, her first taste of fame came when she was still just a pre-teen. Britney’s mother could see from a young age that her daughter was destined for stardom. So, the family moved to New York when she was just 8 years old. During this time, she starred in small productions here and there. But her first major role came three years later.
In fact, Britney’s first major project was the one that truly put her name on the map. Starring alongside the likes of Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake – who she would later go on to date – she became a member of The Mickey Mouse Club. This role saw Britney show off her singing and acting skills, and she worked on the musical show for four years until its cancellation.
But Despite Her Big Name in Show Business, the Singer Struggled To Get Signed
By the time 1996 came around, The Mickey Mouse Club had come to an end and her co-stars were being snapped up by record labels and releasing their own music. But for some reason, nobody wanted Britney. She was rejected time and time again by potential agents, and she ultimately made the decision to bow away from show business.
Her family moved back to their original home in Mississippi, and Britney lived a relatively normal life for a while. She went back to school and tried to fit in with her old friends, but she just couldn’t do it. During an interview with Rolling Stone, Britney noted that “I had my boyfriend, and I went to homecoming and Christmas formal. But I wanted more.” Little did she know what was coming for her.
Britney Was Eventually Signed, but She Joined the Celebrity World at a Strange Time in History
With a dream of being a superstar planted firmly in her mind, Britney eventually managed to get signed by a record label in 1997. She became an artist for Jive Records and started recording her own music, singing in American malls, and even opening for NSYNC as part of their tour. But it was a strange time for women in the public eye, and Britney started to feel the effects of that.
Just as Britney Spears was rising through the ranks as a singing icon, the public backlash surrounding the Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton scandal was in full force. During this time, women were often considered to be at fault or too promiscuous for their own good. Britney’s old stylist confessed that “I worked with all of the boy bands — all of them. Not one of the boys were ever under this much scrutiny.”
Due To the World’s Position on Powerful Women, Britney Was Criticized for Every Move She Made
It’s important to remember that Britney Spears was still only 16 years old when she released her hit debut single, “Baby One More Time.” While it was her idea for the video to feature her dressed as a Catholic school girl with a short skirt and pigtails, this decision didn’t go down well with the general public. Some thought she was being cute, while others thought she was being too provocative.
In fact, it wasn’t long before Britney Spears was being categorized as a danger to the younger generation. Parents and teachers alike thought that she was sending the wrong message. And while there’s no doubt about the fact that the song went on to become a major hit, this also meant that her reputation took a major hit.
The More Britney Was Constrained, the More She Began To Push Back
When Britney was booked to perform at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, she had become one of the best-selling female solo artists of all time. But the public perception of the singer was still divided. There were some who wanted her to be a prim and proper teen idol for the singer, while there were others who just enjoyed the music.
But with this divide came a lot of pressure. While Britney was growing up, much of her fan base wanted her to stay in her old teenage bubble. But it seemed as though the more they tried to contain her, the more she began to push back. This was shown at the awards ceremony when she ripped off her suit halfway through the performance to reveal a revealing flesh-colored bodysuit.
During This Difficult Time, Britney Also Started Dating Boyband Superstar Justin Timberlake
Despite the fact that Britney was dealing with criticism for every move she made, she managed to find some happiness during this confusing time. Britney had begun dating her The Mickey Mouse Club co-star and fellow singer Justin Timberlake, and they quickly became one of the most iconic couples of the ’90s and ’00s. Of course, who could forget their double denim red carpet look?
For many Britney and Justin were the picture-perfect couple. They were both releasing music at the same time, they both had hordes of teenage fans, and everything – from an outsider’s perspective – seemed in place. In fact, some suggested that Justin’s presence toned down Britney’s “provocative” nature.
But When They Broke up, the Mainstream Narrative Suggested That Justin Was the Only Victim
Breakups are rarely easy for anyone in any relationship, but when Britney and Justin broke up after three years together, the press seemed to only rally around Justin. And while this lack of sympathy may have had something to do with Britney’s reputation before they got together, Justin’s song certainly didn’t help. Yes, he released “Cry Me A River” just a few months after their breakup in December 2002.
Not only did the lyrics of this song suggest that Britney had cheated on him. – something she has vehemently denied – but the music video also featured an actress who looked suspiciously like Britney. The Times‘ Wesley Morris has noted that by doing this, Justin “essentially weaponizes the video to weaponize the relationship.” Although Britney may have not done anything wrong, the world all agreed that she was the bad guy.
After the Breakup, All Eyes Were on Britney’s Dating Life
While Britney and Justin’s relationship ended on a sour note with rumors of supposed infidelity, many fans were still upset. After all, the couple had been a constant in the celebrity world for three years, and they had gone from strength to strength through that time – both personally and professionally. Fans were keen to see who she dated next, but her love life was far from smooth sailing.
After Justin, Britney dated choreographer Wade Robson, actor Colin Farrell, her backup dancer Columbus Short, and in 2004 she even married childhood friend Jason Alexander for all of 55 hours. She seemed to be flitting from one man to the other, but things got a lot more serious for the superstar when she started dating another backup dancer by the name of Kevin Federline.
Then She Married Kevin Federline and Became a Mother To Two Sons
Just a few months after Britney’s marriage to Jason Alexander was annulled, Britney and Kevin got engaged. They had been together just three months, but that didn’t stop them from tying the knot in September 2004. Although Kevin’s ex was pregnant with his second child at the time, Britney knew what she wanted. And she seemed pretty smitten.
Within the space of two years, the couple had welcomed two children into the world themselves. They had Sean Preston in 2005 and Jayden James in 2006. But before too long, Britney was beginning to struggle with some mental health concerns. This ultimately affected her marriage, with the couple separating in 2006 and divorcing in 2007.
As Controversy Surrounding the Singer Became More Intense, So Did the Paparazzi
It was clear to everyone that Britney was struggling with her life in the limelight during the late ’00s. She was still being vilified by the press as being provocative, and fans could see that her place in celebrity society was taking a toll on her mental health. And while the last thing she wanted was to be hounded by paparazzi, her fame meant that she was constantly surrounded.
In fact, Britney couldn’t leave her house without being ambushed by paparazzi cameras. Photographers were being offered upwards of $1 million for each photo of the singer – and those that showcased Britney in a negative light were sold for even more. The paparazzi were consuming her life, and they were so eager to get a shot of her that sometimes she had to fight back.
By the Time 2007 Came Around, So Did Her Public “Breakdown”
Considering Britney was struggling with her mental health, the constant harassment from paparazzi, judgmental reporters, and the negative press certainly didn’t help matters. And by the time 2007 and 2008 came around, she was pictured getting more and more erratic as the weeks went by. To begin with, she was spotted driving her car with her infant son on her lap, but her actions became even more intense after that.
When the world learned that she had made her way into a salon in Los Angeles, shaved off all her hair, and then hit a car with an umbrella, it was easy for the press to assume that she was having a “breakdown.” In fact, many people often use the phrase “doing a Britney” when they feel like they are overwhelmed and make dramatic and spontaneous decisions.
But There Was More To the Story Than What We Were Being Told
But what they failed to report was that Britney had more struggles in her life than we first thought. While her behavior was certainly erratic, dangerous, and worrying, she later acknowledged that her actions were indeed wrong. When talking about the driving incident, she noted that she only had her child on her lap because she was trying to protect him from the paparazzi that were hounding the car.
And just a month before Britney shaved all of her hair off, she learned that her beloved aunt had passed away, and she was struggling to deal with the grief. After both of these instances, Britney checked herself into a rehab facility. And in January 2008, Britney was put under a 5150 hold in a psychiatric hospital, but her former friend, Sam Lufti said that “She went willingly. It was like something in her heart was telling her she should go.”
The More She Struggled, the Harder It Was To Keep Hold of Her Children
Although Britney reportedly agreed to this psychiatric hold, the psychiatric hospital wasn’t the only medical facility she was admitted to during this time. Before being checked into this rehab center, Britney was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. This was due to the fact that the police had turned up at her house and were concerned about her welfare.
And as reports of her hospitalization were made public, it wasn’t long before her ex-husband Kevin Federline was asking for sole custody of their sons. Up until that point, they had been sharing custody. But with this new information in tow, the court quickly agreed to Federline’s request. Not only had Britney been restrained, but her children had been taken away from her in the process.
During This Time, Her Father Also Petitioned for a “Temporary” Conservatorship Order
It was no doubt hard for Britney’s family to see her struggling in such a way, but what Britney’s father did next has dominated and controlled her life for the past decade and more. Although his daughter was released from the involuntary hold after five days, Jamie Spears (pictured on the left) filed an emergency order for conservatorship.
According to the Collins Dictionary, a conservatorship is defined as “the legal status of a person appointed by a court to protect the interests of someone, such as a child, who is unable to manage his or her own affairs.” And in Britney Spears’ case, her father did not believe her to be mentally well enough to make her own decisions. So, it became his legal right to make decisions about her work, her personal life, her health, and her whole estate.
Under Her Father’s Power, We Began To Hear Less About Britney’s Personal Life
For the first few months of the conservatorship, Britney seemed to be living a good life. Her personal problems seemed to disappear from view and were rarely making their way into the press. And while nobody could forget the things that had happened in the past and the negative judgments people had previously made about the singer, things seemed to be looking up for Britney Spears.
Plus, by the time July 2008 came around, Britney had been able to regain some visitation rights for her children. Kevin Federline and his lawyers had agreed to let the singer see her sons during scheduled visits, and this new and improved lifestyle did wonders for her musical career. In late December, she released her sixth studio album, Circus, which became her longest-running top-ten album since she released Oops!… I did It Again in 2000.
For a While, It Seemed as Though Her Life Was Getting Back on Track
For around a decade after her mental health struggles and her father’s conservatorship plea, Britney seemed to be back on track. She continued to release music almost like clockwork, she had toured the world, she had bagged herself a Las Vegas residency, and she’d even appeared as a judge on The X Factor.
But what none of us knew was that Britney’s life was being meticulously controlled by her father – and everyone decision she wanted to make had to be approved or denied by Jamie Spears. While many could see in Britney’s changing appearance that her life was challenging, we rarely put two and two together. But that all changed in January 2019.
So Much Was Going on Behind the Scenes That Was Being Pushed Under the Carpet
On January 4, 2019, Britney announced that she would be canceling her Las Vegas residency with immediate effect and that she would be taking an “indefinite work hiatus.” This news came completely out of the blue and shocked both her fans and critics alike. Her life had been relatively normal for the past few years and she’d even found a stable boyfriend in the form of Sam Asghari (pictured). But this was a sudden and confusing decision from the singer.
Britney confirmed that she was stepping down from her place in the music world because her father had suffered a near-fatal colon rupture. It was noted that he was fighting for his life in hospital, and she wanted to be there for him. However, fans who had been quietly questioning Britney’s relationship with her father on fan forums over the years were skeptical. In their eyes, it didn’t add up.
When Her Father Was Ill, Britney Was Staying at a Rehab Center
The same month as her father struggled with her health, we were told that Britney was also struggling with her mental health. So much so that she was staying at a rehab center. With more and more people beginning to question this chain of events, it wasn’t long before a podcast episode caught everyone’s attention.
The podcast called Britney’s Gram alleged that Britney’s Las Vegas residency had actually been canceled by her father because she was refusing to take her medication. It suggested that Jamie Spears was holding his daughter at the rehab facility against her will, and it went into more detail about her conservatorship. After all, it was only supposed to be temporary but had been in place for ten years.
Before Too Long, the #FreeBritney Movement Was Taking Over the Internet
When people learned that Britney’s every move was decided for her by her father, the #FreeBritney movement began to take shape. The people behind this movement wanted Britney to have her own life back, and they wanted her to have the freedom to make her own decisions that would benefit her life, her career, and her relationships.
In the wake of this new pressure, Jamie Spears stepped down as Britney’s only conservator and agreed to share the responsibility with Jodi Montgomery, her “care manager.” But just like her conservatorship as a whole, this was only a temporary measure and it wasn’t long before Jamie took his control back.
Although Her Family Rarely Speak About Her Conservatorship, Her Brother Has Spoken His Mind
During this time, Britney’s ex-husband, Kevin Federline, also took out a restraining order against Jamie Spears. He noted that there had been an altercation between Britney’s father and their 14-year-old son, and while this hit the headlines for a while, it didn’t exactly make the front page. But one thing that did make the front page was Bryan Spears’ take on the whole situation.
In July 2020, he appeared on the As NOT Seen on TV Podcast. Here, he spoke about his sister’s conservatorship. He confessed that “She’s been in this thing for quite some time now. Obviously, there was a need for it in the beginning.” But he also noted that “Whether someone’s coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating. She’s wanted to get out of it for quite some time.”
In August 2020, Britney’s Lawyers Began a Process To Oppose Her Father’s Control Over Her
Just a month after Bryan Spears seemed to confirm that his sister wanted to get out of her conservatorship, her lawyers filed a motion to oppose certain aspects of the court order. For starters, Britney no longer wanted the files to be sealed to the public. She instead pushed for the information to be available for everyone to see. Many took this as a sign of support for the #FreeBritney movement.
But that wasn’t all. Within this motion, her lawyers pushed back against Jamie Spears and asked to appoint a new and independent co-conservator of her estate. They wanted Jamie to step down from his duties and relinquish his control over the singer, and they ideally wanted him to be replaced by Jodi Montgomery who had temporary control back in 2019.
During This Time, Britney’s Social Media Posts Were Becoming More and More Concerning
Throughout much of 2020, as awareness over the #FreeBritney movement increased, many people were looking to Britney’s social media channels to look for clues. Fans wanted to know whether she was happy and safe, and even the media were starting to question whether she was okay – after years of vilifying her for the whole world to see. But what they saw online soon became a major concern.
During this time, Britney was posting strange pictures that were of poor quality, and almost identical in nature. Alongside these strange photos, Britney also often wrote cryptic captions and posted Q&A videos where it seemed as though she was reading from a script. This left many people wondering whether she was the one posting these images and videos, or whether there was someone behind the scenes telling her what to do.
Even Britney’s Mother Believes That She Should Now Be Free From Her Conservatorship Ties
By the time September 2020 came around, court reports showed that Britney was actively campaigning against her father and the terms of her conservatorship. This was the first time in over a decade that she was truly fighting back, and this wasn’t going unnoticed – even though she never publicly spoke out about the situation herself. And even Britney’s mother, Lynn Spears, believed it was finally time for her daughter to be free.
A source told US Weekly that “Lynne wants a care plan established that would transition Britney’s personal life out of the conservatorship.” But they also noted that Jamie was looking to extend the order once again because “Britney needs long-term monitoring, and he doesn’t think she is prepared to take such a drastic action.”
In November 2020, Britney’s Motion To Remove Her Father as Conservator Was Rejected
But just as Britney was starting to truly get behind the motion that would allow her to live her own life, she learned that the request to remove her father as the conservator of her estate was rejected by the court. While the proceedings were kept away from the public eye, USA Today noted that Jamie Spears told the judge that his daughter was not ready to have such control.
The Associated Press also reported that during the hearing, Britney’s lawyer stated that, “My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father. She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.” While Britney has not performed since the start of 2019, this confirmation was news that shocked the world and music fans across the globe. Of course, they all still rallied around the superstar.
Although Her Request Was Denied, Britney and Her Lawyers Did Have One Small Win
The denial of their request was a huge blow to Britney’s legal team, but they did have a small win during the hearing. While they couldn’t remove Jamie Spears from the conservatorship entirely, their request to add a co-conservator of their own choosing was agreed. That means that now, The Bessemer Trust are partially in charge of her and her estate.
And during this time, Britney was still posting her identical photos, dancing videos, and Q&A requests on her social media page. This continued to upset and confuse the #FreeBritney followers, but they could see that while she was still being controlled by her father, she had other people who loved her around her. Just like her long-term boyfriend, Sam Asghari, and her team of lawyers who were working tirelessly to regain her freedom.
A New Development in December 2020 Meant That Britney Had Taken One Step Forward, but Two Steps Back
Although it seemed as though Britney and her team were getting closer and closer to ending her conservatorship, a new development in December 2020 squashed all of those dreams. That’s because a hearing took place at the end of last year, but the end result did not work in Britney’s favor. In fact, Jamie Spears’ motion to extend the conservatorship was approved until September 2021.
ET reported that her father was extremely happy about the decision. They released a quote from him, that said: “When a family member needs special care and protection, families need to step up, as I have done for the last 12-plus years, to safeguard, protect, and continue to love Britney unconditionally. I have and will continue to provide unwavering love and fierce protection against those with self-serving interests and those who seek to harm her or my family.”
After Framing Britney Spears Was Released in February 2021, the World Began To Question Everything
Before the New York Times documentary, Framing Britney Spears, was released in February 2021, the #FreeBritney movement was only just beginning to heat up. While stories of her conservatorship popped up here and there, nobody quite knew the extent of her father’s control or the events that had really happened in her past.
But now, this documentary has brought to life a whole new side to her story, her life, and her career. While the media has often portrayed her as the perpetrator or the predator within the celebrity world, fans and everyday people alike are now coming to a different conclusion. Britney is now seen as the victim, and the public is demanding apologies, acknowledgment, and real change.
And These Questions Have Led To a Major Development in Her Case
While there’s no doubt about the fact that Framing Britney Spears was a tough watch for anyone, it seems to have really brought to life the case that has been swept under the carpet for so long. In fact, just days after the documentary was released, Britney Spears’ case made its way back to court to help the judge truly understand the role of her conservators. This was way ahead of schedule, and a serious win for the singer and her team.
And it seems as though more and more people now understand just how serious the conservatorship is for Britney Spears. At 39 years old she’s still under her father’s complete control. And her former assistant and long-time family friend Felicia Culotta has noted that she just can’t get her head around it, “especially for somebody Britney’s age and somebody capable of so much that I know firsthand that she’s capable of.”
Britney’s Family Were Not Involved in the Documentary, but Many Think That the Singer Played a Part
When creating the credits for Framing Britney Spears, the New York Times made sure to include people who were contacted to be a part of the documentary but did not do so. And as people watched these credits roll down the screen, it was easy to see that all of the Spears family were included in this list. But many conspirators have suggested that maybe she did play a part in it after all.
Over the past year or so, Britney has often written captions on her social media posts that include roses. She has also spoken about a “Project Rose” that she has been working on. And those who have watched the documentary will know that those in it are always sitting in front of a backdrop full of roses. Does this mean that Britney really did have a part to play in the documentary? We hope she finds her freedom soon.