As COVID-19 continues to affect different economies and vulnerable populations, more people are calling for a revolution against the structures of capitalism. In the U.S., many are advocating on behalf of those who cannot practice social distancing because of their jobs and their need to make a living. But it’s not just people in the working class calling for action. On Thursday, March 23, 38-year-old pop legend Britney Spears shared an Instagram post calling for the redistribution of wealth during this unprecedented time.
The graphic that Spears shared was originally written and posted by Mimi Zhu, a queer Chinese Australian artist, writer and community organizer. Refinery29 had previously shared the image, which is why Spears tagged them as the source in her post.
The graphic boldly states: “We will feed each other, redistribute wealth, strike.” Spears left the simple caption: “Communion goes beyond walls.” She also included several red rose emojis, a well-known symbol associated with anti-authoritarian and socialist organizations.
Spears’ social media presence has always been something of an enigma. Her political takes are sporadic, almost artful and often reach notorious levels of fame. Some fans might remember Spears’ infamous tweet from 2011: “Does anyone think global warming is a good thing? I love Lady Gaga. I think she’s a really interesting artist.”
Like Spears’ other rare political remarks, this Instagram post seemed to come out of nowhere. Throughout the pandemic, Spears has been sharing several selfies showcasing some dramatic makeup, a handful of dancing videos and a photo of a cheetah as well. Spears’ reposting of Zhu’s graphic definitely stood out, causing somewhat of an uproar from her supporters and other socialist-leaning folks on the internet.
Some of the top comments on the post are: “Yesssss queen of wealth re-distribution!,” “Britney wrote the communist manifesto!,” “Britney pay our rent” and “queen of post-capitalism!”
#ComradeBritney started trending on Twitter almost immediately after her post. A popular thread also emerged, which portrayed Spears as different printed editions of Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto.”
Spears’ Instagram post gained traction with political organizations too. Democratic Socialists of America tweeted, “Comrade Britney knows: Together we can build a better world, because capitalism is Toxic.” When Spears tweeted an image that modified the lyrics to her song: “My loneliness is saving lives,” People for Bernie Sanders responded saying, “Thank you for your service for the working class.”
— DSA 🌹 (@DemSocialists) March 24, 2020
Though many of the responses to this post may be exaggerated or tongue-in-cheek, the excitement around Spears’ radical political suggestion is justified. More often than not, mainstream music artists either advocate for mainstream politics or remain entirely apolitical — especially pop stars who reigned in a Pre-Trump America.
Though Spears’ call to action may seem odd or random, longtime followers of the pop legend know that our current legal and economic system hasn’t always partied in her favor. In 2008, after many public displays of mental illness — one might be most familiar with the head-shaving incident, a moment that certainly holds its own in our 2000s zeitgeist — Spears was put under legal conservatorship by the court. In February 2020, that sentence was extended, meaning that at 38 years old, Spears’ father and lawyer still maintain control over her “health and estate.” This includes maintenance of business prospects, home visitors and all of her finances.
This public conservatorship birthed the longstanding #FreeBritney movement, in which fans passionately advocate for the pop star’s autonomy. Her supporters, in demanding for her freedom, have several conspiracy theories surrounding the conservatorship, suspecting it’s the reason that she hasn’t been at the same level of fame in the past couple of years.
As a response to Britney Spears’ Instagram post, fans have adapted the #FreeBritney into #FreeComradeBritney. Her more loyal supporters have pushed the media’s tongue-in-cheek responses to something more sympathetic, seeming to understand that even if Spears wanted to take political action and redistribute her own wealth, legally, she wouldn’t be allowed to.
Taking into consideration some of the restraints our economic system has placed on Spears, who cannot access any of her hard-earned money, it makes sense that she would call for a general strike against that system. And though her political presence may be dissected for its ambiguity or superficiality, longtime fans of Britney Spears understand that this post, this insight, aligns with her story of perseverance, and her kind, charitable persona.