Monday, November 23, 2020
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Free Britney From Her Father’s Control

Britney Spears has been a staple of pop culture since the 1990s — first appearing in “The Mickey Mouse Club” when she was only 11, then advancing to her own trailblazing pop career at the age of 16. 

Ever since her debut studio album “Baby One More Time,” Spears has lived life in the limelight. Constant performances, an increasing lack of privacy and being under harsh public scrutiny can take its toll on a person — especially when one receives both positive and negative attention at such a young age. In 2008, after a tumultuous year consisting of nonstop work and problems with her personal life, Spears had a series of public breakdowns. The star was put under a temporary conservatorship, which continues to be extended, under the care of her father. 

Spears has remained under this conservatorship for 12 years. Only recently did she begin to publicly express a desire to break free from her father’s control after he temporarily stepped down as her conservator in 2019. Spears’ representatives have accused her father of “financial mismanagement and repressive secrecy.” However, at a recent court hearing on Nov. 10, a judge who has overseen Spears’s conservatorship denied her request for the immediate removal of her father from the control of her estate. 

Although she is open to the possibility, Spears is not currently asking to be free from her conservatorship. She is merely asking that her father not be the legal guardian managing it. That seems a reasonable request from an adult nearing her 40s, who has not only maintained a successful career but who has also worked nonstop throughout the 12 years under conservatorship. 

Spears experienced some of the most troubling years of her life leading up to 2007. She was constantly hounded by paparazzi wherever she went, released four studio albums with accompanying tours and went through a divorce, all while the public scrutinized her every move. Spears’ partying days also contributed to a decline in her public image. In 2007, she had a public breakdown, and she infamously took a razor and shaved her own head. 

Spears is not the only young celebrity to go through a “wild phase.” Lindsay Lohan, Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton, Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes all went through similar stages. However, Spears is the only one who has turned her life around but still remains in someone else’s control. 

I can understand Spears’s need for conservatorship at this time in her life. Her father controlled her finances and her personal life, dictating the questions she would be allowed to answer, where she was allowed to go and how she spent her money. He aided Spears during this troubling time and helped maintain a sizable net worth for her. However, this was over a decade ago. Spears has proven that she is capable of working and doing well for herself, releasing multiple successful albums, selling out tours, completing a four-year Las Vegas residency and appearing as a judge on The X Factor. If Spears can do all of this, she should at least be able to have a say in who controls her estate. 

Some might argue that Spears was only capable of doing this under a conservatorship. However, Spears is not pushing to be completely free from her guidance right now. She only wishes to have her father removed from control and be replaced with Jodi Montgomery, the temporary stand-in that was appointed to Spears’ conservatorship in 2019. Spears “strongly prefers” Montgomery, stating that she is “afraid of her father” and refuses to perform under his control. Not only has Montgomery served as Spears’ care manager in the past, but she is an experienced conservator who owns a private fiduciary firm with her husband as well. 

However, the decision at the November court hearing is not a complete loss for Spears. The judge did allow for a corporate fiduciary, the Bessemer Trust, to be appointed as a co-conservator for Spears. 

Fans have been extremely vocal about their support for Spears, sparking a “Free Britney” movement demanding that the singer should be free of her conservatorship. It is worth noting, however, that the movement has also led to some wild conspiracies with no confirmed evidence behind them. Spears has kept quiet about this in the past, but has recently seemed to acknowledge the movement, with her lawyer stating, “Britney welcomes and appreciates the informed support of her many fans,” and rejecting Spears’ comments by her father about it being just a “conspiracy theory” or “joke.” 

Spears is a grown woman. She has been under the spotlight for most of her life and remains under a long 12-year conservatorship. It’s time for that to change. She’s not asking for complete control, but a mere adjustment that should be granted to her. Some argue that she’s not ready to run “her own life yet,” but how will she know if she never gets the chance?

Jacqueline Nguyen is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 Fall Quarter. She can be reached at jacqunn4@uci.edu