Britney Spears - Work B**ch (Official Music Video) / YouTube
In 2008, Rolling Stone ran a cover story called The Tragedy of Britney Spears. It detailed her descent into apparent madness – and it reeked of finality. At 26, Britney’s life was over. This was how it was. This was how it always would be.
Reading it now is a rude reminder of how bad things were.
Actually, it’s rather easy to forget how brutal Britney’s breakdown was. In fact, the entire thing has been flipped into a meme – if Britney can make it through 2007, you can make it through today. People remember the highlights reel: crotch-shots, the buzz cut, a night with Paris and Lindsay. An unwatchable Gimme More performance. One of the first-ever viral videos.
But I think people forget the magnitude.
For two or so years, the world watched as a 24, 25, 26-year-old woman fell apart. We watched as she was hounded. We watched her cry on the side of the road. And we laughed.
Sticking up for the young woman was resoundingly unpopular. When Chris “Leave Britney Alone” Crocker did it, he was mocked within an inch of his life. He was crazy. He was gay. He was kind of gender-ambiguous.
Suffice to say, 2008 was a different time.
Then, somehow, it came to an end.
Britney was a judge on X-factor. Britney put out albums. Britney took up a Vegas residency.
I doubt Vanessa Grigoriadis, the reporter who wrote The Tragedy of Britney Spears could have imagined Britney Spears as a 38-year-old at all – let alone a 38-year-old who seems to live a low-key, homely lifestyle. But, at least according to Instagram, that’s Britney’s deal.
2020 Britney is markedly different from 2008 Britney. She works out with her gorgeous boyfriend. She paints butterflies and love-hearts. She burns down gyms – but makes it kinda cute? But still, something rotten festers beneath the surface – even more than usual when it comes to Instagram.
The #FreeBritney movement is raring to out the stink.
Britney has reportedly been under what’s known as a conservatorship since 2008. Up until 2019, her father Jamie controlled her finances. Currently, they’re being controlled by manager Jodi Montgomery. Conservatorships like Britney’s under are generally reserved for people unable to exert any control over their own lives – usually people in comas, or people with dementia. The #FreeBritney movement makes the point that any person who can manage to release four albums, completed a four year Vegas residency, embark in fashion and fragrance business ventures, and judge a televised singing competition is likely not in a coma.
It’s been reported in Forbes that, under the conservatorship, Britney “cannot drive a car, vote, get married, have children [or] spend her own money.”
What she can do is make vast amounts of money for those surrounding her.
Any reasonable person looking back at 2007 would surely admit that what we did was wrong. Britney wasn’t the crazy one – the world was crazy. We treated a woman’s mental breakdown like a spectator sport. The fact she’s alive at all is a miracle.
But it’s time to truly repent. It’s not for me to state, definitively, what should happen to Britney Spears’ finances. That is a complicated matter that I’m not privy to. But I do think it’s fair to advocate for her freedom. At the very least, we owe her that.Support Villainesse