Britney Spears’ father has finally filed to end the pop star’s 13-year conservatorship, stating that “circumstances have changed” in the past few months. The legendary pop star’s struggle for freedom is nearly at an end, with special thanks to the ever-persistent #FreeBritney movement.
The conservatorship first began in 2008 after a messy custody battle and several public incidents, including Britney shaving her head and attacking a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella. #FreeBritney reportedly stems from as early as 2009, when fans started criticizing the legal arrangement which let her father control her finances, career decisions and even her reproductive health choices. The movement regained momentum on social media in 2019 after Britney cancelled her Las Vegas residency and checked into a mental health centre. The cause was further publicized following the release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears and the singer’s own testimony in court earlier this year.
On Twitter, there were more than one million tweets about the pop star in the 24 hours after her testimony, and #FreeBritney currently has almost two billion views on TikTok and 530,000 posts on Instagram. Over 300,000 fans called for Britney to be able to hire her own lawyer, and a petition to end her conservatorship has almost 200,000 signatures. Needless to say, the outcry across these platforms has been huge.
But then the movement went beyond online activism, with physical demonstrations and Etsy merch promoting the cause through other avenues. Fellow performer Miley Cyrus even made headlines for shouting “Free Britney” during a show, and she’s not the only celebrity who’s spoken out. Earlier this year Katy Perry, Paris Hilton, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and even Britney’s ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, teamed up to create a legal fund to end the pop star’s conservatorship. The campaign also gained the attention of politicians, and both Democrats and Republicans called for the pop star to be freed from the legal arrangement. No wonder Jamie Spears felt pressured to end the immoral agreement that’s earned him millions of dollars.
This was more than just a trend, it was an online crusade that proved instrumental in releasing the pop star from the control of her father. It demonstrates the power of a viral hashtag and how it can be used to make real-life changes beyond social media. More importantly, however, #FreeBritney also fueled discussions around conservatorships as a whole and the treatment of around 1.3 million people in the US. But while there is still a lot of work to be done, now is the time to celebrate – Britney is free.
By Dina Zubi, staff writer for CORQ. Picture credit: army.britneyspears via Instagram.