Inside Britney Spears' fractured family: Did the pop icon’s inner circle fail her as a star and human?
The rise and fall of Britney Spears in the last two decades, since she was only 16 – fresh from Disney Club before transforming into a global sensation with her debut ‘Baby One More Time’ to a renowned celebrity who was under a barrage of cameras following her infamous 2007 breakdown – to date remains one of the most discussed topics of the pop world. While “If Britney could survive 2007, you can do this” became a running joke, the musician has willingly or unwillingly found herself embroiled in one too many issues, that her colleagues, audiences and fans couldn’t simply overlook.
The latest documentary “Framing Britney” in 75 minutes, details aspects of Britney’s life- from her childhood in Kentwood, Louisiana to her life as a mother of two who is fighting for her own rights. However, it did lack something. A factor considered pivotal in everybody’s life, but a struggle in the singer’s case. Her family “refused” to be a part of ‘Framing Britney’ and Samantha Stark, the director of the documentary told Variety that her family wouldn’t speak to media right now because “they’re in the middle of what looks to be gearing up to be a court battle.”
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For the uninitiated, the ‘Till the World Ends’ singer’ isn’t the only member of the Spears who has been in the spotlight. Her mother Lynee Spears is an author, her brother Bryan Jame Spears is a film and television producer, younger sister Jamie Lynn Spears is an actress and singer, known for playing the lead role in Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101 and father Jamie Spears, needless to say, has gained a reputation for himself by getting publicly involved in her life and finances.
How has her family reacted to her conservatorship battle with father Jamie Spears?
In 2008, Britney was placed under the conservatorship of her father Jamie by the court after she was admitted to the psychiatric ward of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical center. Jamie and his attorney Andrew Wallet were given complete control of her assets.
In the same year, her father had allowed MTV to film Britney for one of their documentaries, during which she has said presenting her take on the new arrangement with her father, “If I wasn’t under the restraints that I’m under right now, with all the lawyers and doctors, and people analyzing me every day, and all that kinda stuff – if that wasn’t there, I’d feel so liberated, and feel like myself.”
Years later, talking about her much-controversial conservatorship, her brother Bryan told Drew Plotkin of ‘As NOT Seen on TV Pocast’, "She's been in this thing for quite some time now. Obviously, there was a need for it in the beginning. Now they've made some changes and all we can do is hope for the best.” He further added that the conservatorship has “been a great thing for our family, to this point, and [we] keep hoping for the best."
He even spoke in favor of their father, who Britney herself has been trying to be independent of, and said, “He has done the best he could, given the situation he was put in. We've had to work together as a family to keep it all going. One person might be on stage and doing this, but it's a sacrifice from everybody. Everyone is putting in, to some degree, a little bit to keep everything going."
He also noted, “She's always wanted to get out of it. It's very frustrating to have. Whether someone's coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating. She's wanted to get out of it for quite some time."
Jamie stepped down as Britney’s permanent conservator in September 2019, citing “personal health reasons” after a decade as her permanent conservator. The New York Times reported in 2016 that her financial conservators kept track of “her most mundane purchases, from a drink at Starbucks to a song on iTunes.” They also oversaw her mental health treatment and approved her visitors. Reportedly, her father earned around $130,000 annually.
Meanwhile, her mother told DailMail that she had her own regrets about what she didn’t do as a mother when Britney was at the crux of mental and legal issues. "When her life was such a success, what did she need me for? And when things took a turn for the worse, I was out, because other people - dancers, managers - were closer to her, and with her day and night. Being a mother, you can't help but have regrets about what you did and didn't do for your kids, and I'm no different."
The celebrity mother who had pretty much stayed under the radar for more than a decade, made a dramatic comeback as she went head-to-head with Jamie to get involved more in her daughter’s life. Her sister Jamie Lynn has taken a different approach by shutting down social media critics and trolls, who have pointed at the family’s inefficiency to help Britney. In one of her Instagram stories, Jamie Lynn once shared, "If you deal with mental illness or care for someone dealing with mental illness, then you know how important it is to respect the situation with privacy for the person, and the family trying to protect their loved ones, no matter how it may appear to the public, and as the public, we must learn to do the same.” She further added, “[People] have no right to assume anything about my sister, and I have NO right to speak about HER health and personal matters. She is a strong, badass, unstoppable woman, and that's the only thing that is OBVIOUS."
As Britney’s family drama continued to engulf the media, the #FreeBritney movement gained momentum, as her fans seemed wholeheartedly convinced that the singer wants an out from her father’s conservatorship. While the movement from the fans’ end focuses on “freeing” Britney, the singer told the court that she wants her father to step down for good as she was “scared” of him. Her court-appointed representative Samuel Ingham told the judge at the time, "My client has informed me she is afraid of her father. She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.”
What does Britney’s father have to say?
Despite reports about Britney’s desperate attempts to have her father out of her life as her conservator, the latter has maintained, he’s only trying to “safeguard, protect and continue to love Britney unconditionally.” Jamie said in a statement, “I love my daughter and I miss her very much. When a family member needs special care and protection, families need to step up, as I have done for the last 12-plus years, to safeguard, protect and continue to love Britney unconditionally. I have and will continue to provide unwavering love and fierce protection against those with self-serving interests and those who seek to harm her or my family.”
Here’s what the experts have to say about Britney’s ongoing conservatorship circus
Commenting on whether or not Britney deserved a permanent conservator, Josephine Gittler, a law professor and the author of ‘Reforming the Guardianship and Conservatorship System: An Introduction’ said, “If you’re an adult, there is a legal presumption that you are competent to make decisions about a range of things, good, bad, or indifferent. Your decisions can be good or bad, but you are entitled as an adult to make decisions about your finances and your property and your medical care. But all states have laws that recognize that some people have diminished decision-making capacity,” she further explained.
Meanwhile, the president of the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse Elaine Renoire said, “The public has the right to know that the state is taking care of the citizens that need help. Everything’s so quiet with this case that it’s very disconcerting.”
Britney speaks up
After the release of ‘Framing Britney Spears’, the singer took to Twitter to add more reason to it. She wrote, “Each person has their story and their take on other people’s stories !!!! We all have so many different bright beautiful lives.!!! Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person's life it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens. !!!!
Each person has their story and their take on other people’s stories !!!! We all have so many different bright beautiful lives 🌹🌸🌷🌼!!! Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person's life it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens 📷✨ !!!!— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) February 9, 2021