A LUCKY GIRL NAMED BRITNEY
I’m sure you know who the person is; the name speaks for itself. It cannot be anyone but Britney Spears, one of the world’s most famous pop stars who seems to have everything, except freedom and peace of mind.
When Spears released her single, Lucky, from her second studio album Oops!… I Did It Again in 2000, little did the world know it would be a premonition about her life.
The song tells a story about a famous Hollywood star named Lucky who cries every night out of loneliness and despair, although she keeps telling herself that she has everything: fame, beauty, love, and admiration. The music video also shows everyone was waiting at her hand and foot, but she feels as if she is living in a gilded cage.
With more than two decades and dozens of hits in the music industry to her name, and still going strong, the 38-year-old songstress never ceases to be in the media spotlight. In fact, her story has become even more interesting since she abruptly cancelled her Las Vegas residency in January last year and announced an “indefinite work hiatus” after her father, Jamie Spears, nearly died from colon rupture. One month later, Spears was admitted to a psychiatric facility.
Although this was not the first time, and that it sounded reasonable given the stress from her father’s illness, this time was different as a series of events that happened earlier suggested otherwise.
Since having been placed under a conservatorship following public meltdowns in 2008, Spears has risen to become one of the industry’s highest-paid artists. The senior Spears has served as his daughter’s conservator since the beginning and has full control in making decisions about everything in her life, both personal and businesswise.
Conservatorship is another term for guardianship and made when an adult can no longer handle his or her own financial or personal affairs due to illness, mental health problems, or old age that often leads to dementia.
While at the height of her career, the singer suffered from extreme stress and anxiety after her divorce from Keven Federline in 2006. Spears has told Marie Claire magazine that she had struggled with anxiety since childhood, partly because of working in showbiz from a very young age.
The singer began showing erratic behavior, including shaving her head, locking herself in a bathroom with her younger son, battling substance abuse, wielding an umbrella at paparazzi, and more. This fueled the paparazzi frenzy, making her mental health problems even worse. Finally, her parents had to ask the court to intervene.
In the early days of conservatorship, Spears credited her father for saving her life from spiraling out of control. However, this protection, lasting 12 years, cannot continue forever.
In August, her attorney, Samuel Ingham, filed court papers to remove her father from his conservatorship role, and instead appoint Jodi Montgomery, a licensed professional conservator, as its permanent head. Montgomery has temporarily overseen Spears’ affairs for nearly a year during her father’s recovery. The singer also asked the court to allow details of her conservatorship case be made available to the public.
For over a decade, Spears cannot spend money on anything without permission. The singer is not even allowed to meet anyone without supervision, or drive a car, and may not be able to marry her boyfriend Sam Asghari as her father is unlikely to agree due to legal complexities.
It is believed what triggered the hiatus was a series of events prior to her admission to the facility, which included the resignation of her attorney, Andrew Wallet, as her co-conservator, and growing dissatisfaction over her lack of freedom.
The biggest factor is probably the reduction of joint custody time of her two sons with her ex-husband from equal time to 30:70 after her younger son Jayden had some altercation with his grandfather. The media quoted sources as saying it made her very angry and stressed.
“We are now at a point where the conservatorship must be changed substantially in order to reflect the major changes in her current lifestyle and stated wishes,” says the document, filed early September in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Those changes include her current desire not to tour.
According to widespread reports, Spears appeared in probate court on May 10, 2019 to ask the judge to give her more freedom and ease restrictions that have prevented her from making even the most basic of decisions. Her request further convinced her fans and supporters of her unfair treatment who organized a #FreeBritney campaign last year, calling for her father to relinquish his control over the pop star’s life. Spears also said she is “strongly opposed” to his return to full conservatorship.
Looking at her career record, Spears has hardly ever taken an extended break, contrary to many A-list stars who often pause their careers to acquire new inspiration. The pop icon, whose net worth is $59 million, had continued to churn out one project after another, even in the early days of her conservatorship. One cannot help wonder if this is really what she wanted, or if she was being used as a money-making machine. Only when details of the conservatorship are released to the public will the world know the truth.
In the 2008 MTV documentary “For the Record”, filmed a year and a half after the meltdown, Spears revealed her feelings toward conservatorship, “Even when you go to jail, you know there’s a time when you’re gonna get out. But in this situation, it’s never-ending. It’s just like Groundhog Day everyday…If I wasn’t under the restraints I’m under, I’d feel so liberated.”
Whether her father’s purpose of sealing the conservatorship papers and retaining his position is to protect the family’s privacy and to shield Spears from stress, or whether he has a hidden agenda, it is without doubt that conservatorship is neither the only nor the best solution. The very measure that has saved her life is going to kill her spirit, making her gradually wither away inside. Surely, nobody would want to see that happen.