Every day the average person executes the simplest of tasks. Everything we say and do is our responsibility and in our hands. We go to the grocery store, grab a bite at a local restaurant and drive around town just because we feel like it. These simple tasks don’t really require a second thought. However, take a step back and imagine that every time you wanted to make a decision, you needed permission from someone — a life with no rights or privileges. You’re a step closer to the world that pop superstar Britney Spears endured over the past 13 years.
Like all stories, “Britney vs Spears” starts at the beginning. Britney was just 16 years old when she entered the music scene. She made her debut on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on Nov. 21, 1998, with the now timeless record “Baby One More Time.” The song skyrocketed to the No. 1 spot less than two months later, and just like that, Britney Spears became a household name. From 1998 to 2003, Britney’s worldwide record sales totaled over $73 million, and in 2004 she became the biggest selling artist of her generation. Britney was absolutely on fire. But like all flames, things began to fizzle, and the music abruptly stopped.
Britney fell in love with her backup dancer Kevin Federline and proposed to him near the end of 2004. They welcomed two sons into the world, but after two years, the relationship crumbled, and the pop star filed for divorce in November 2006. After news of the divorce broke out, the paparazzi constantly harassed Britney. The media and the world had an opinion for every move the star made. In the blink of an eye, everyone seemed to lose sight of who Britney was. She was no longer the girl from a small town in Louisiana who moved millions around the globe with her voice and her heart. Instead, the public pushed her into the “Hollywood Trainwreck” cliché, with no way to escape the scrutiny.
During the fall of 2020, an anonymous source reached out to the filmmakers of “Britney vs Spears.” They said they wanted the world to finally know the truth, so they shared thousands of confidential documents regarding the conservatorship forced onto the star beginning Feb. 1, 2008. A conservatorship is defined as “the appointment of a guardian or a protector by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another person due to old age or physical or mental limitations.” Typically, when conservatorships are requested, the conservatee receives five days’ prior notice. This often gives the conservatee time to try to combat it.
However, Britney’s father deprived her of this due to her involvement with Sam Lutfi, someone he deemed “dangerous.” Rumors spread that Lutfi would crush up drugs and put them in Britney’s food. Lufti refuted the rumors in “Britney vs Spears.” He stated, “You have a hundred blood tests and drug tests. The entire time I was with her she passed every single one. Which is why the police never came to my door. No one ever called the police.” He continued: “To be accused of allegations that you’re drugging the world’s biggest star, you call the police. You call the FBI. You don’t call TMZ.” Lufti referred to himself as “the perfect scapegoat,” alluding to his role as a cover from the real danger: the conservatorship. Or more specifically, Jamie Spears.
Jamie Spears, Britney’s father, filed for conservatorship over the star, and the state granted him the position of core conservator. Andrew Wallet, a court-appointed attorney, was appointed as the co-conservator to her estate alongside Jamie Spears.
One of the documents provided by the anonymous source dated back to March 2008. It stated that Britney “lacked capacity & capability,” while other documents were related to “dementia placement.” The “Britney vs Spears” filmmakers found these revelations to be confusing and concerning. How could someone as young as Britney Spears be dealing with something related to dementia? How did Britney lack capacity and capability when she appeared on hit shows like “How I Met Your Mother” two months after the conservatorship began? The filmmakers interviewed Dr. Spar, the doctor who allegedly wrote the report on Britney in March 2008. Spar described himself as a geriatric psychiatrist; when asked if he dealt with dementia-related diagnoses, he confirmed that was a part of his work as a geriatric psychiatrist. He also refused to verify if he ever met Britney Spears or if he ever evaluated her.
During all this, the popstar needed to prepare for a huge tour. All the health concerns and worries of overworking the star suddenly became irrelevant to her team when money came into the equation. Ticket sales alone for the Circus tour made $40 million. The Circus tour lasted nine months with a total of 70 shows all over the world. People close to Britney and members of the Circus tour said tensions ran high, and the tour took a toll on her health. Regardless, the show went on, and the work didn’t stop there.
In 2012, Britney signed a $15 million deal with “The X Factor” to be a judge for the entire duration of the second season. The deal put immense stress on Britney, but her team thought that if she pulled out of the job, it would make it look like she was experiencing another “breakdown.” Instead of prioritizing her mental health, the people responsible for Britney’s well-being forced her to do the show and upped the dosage of her medication.
After finishing her run on “The X Factor,” Britney declined to return for another season to do a Las Vegas residency. The show would be titled “Piece of Me” and would run from 2013 to 2017. The residency consisted of 248 shows and sold a total of 916,184 tickets, for a total of $137.7 million in box office sales. Then, in 2018, her management scheduled her to do a tour of the same name. It would include nine countries and sold 260,531 tickets, for a total of $54.3 million in box office sales.
A year later, a new Las Vegas residency was announced: “Domination.” But three months after the announcement, Britney abruptly took to her Instagram to cancel due to family health concerns. This caused speculation among fans regarding the health and well-being of the singer. In April 2019, Britney Spears fans began to worry after finding out the star was admitted to a psychiatric facility against her will. The revelation became the catalyst for the #FreeBritney movement to exonerate the pop star from her conservatorship. This hashtag started a tsunami of media coverage regarding the conservatorship. In response to the immense coverage of the movement, the “Britney vs Spears” documentary emerged. Filmmaker Erin Lee Carr described the documentary as “a film about artistry and media portrayal. But the story was also about control. Full of conspiracy and rumors.”
After 13 years of suffering in the shadows of darkness and pain, the pop star finally wasn’t alone anymore. With her loyal fans behind her, the voices of Britney’s supporters all over the world combined to make a scream loud enough for the court to open its eyes and ears at last. In the final scene of “Britney vs Spears,” we see the day of June 23, 2021, where Britney finally gets to speak to the court. She asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to end her conservatorship, stating that she was “exploited, bullied and feeling left out and alone.” Britney said that the people responsible for her conservatorship “should be in jail,” and she emphasized that her father remained drunk on the power he took from her for the past 13 years.
Finally, after 13 years of making money for other people and being controlled like a puppet, the court removed Jamie Spears from Britney’s conservatorship on Sept. 29. He was replaced with someone better fit to suit Britney’s needs. Britney took to Instagram to thank her supporters: “#FreeBritney movement … I have no words … because of you guys and your constant resilience in freeing me from my conservatorship … my life is now in that direction !!!!!”
Things for the star are finally looking up for the first time in a decade. Hopefully, she can get back to living her life on her own terms.