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Britney Spears' Conservatorship: What We Know, And What's Next

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station description Daily commentary on pop culture with a shot of cheer.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
Duration: 20:03
For more than 13 years, Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship. Her assets and career have been kept under the control of her father, Jamie Spears, as well as an attorney. A movement called #FreeBritney has pushed for that conservatorship to be lifted — and Spears herself recently gave a sp
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For more than 13 years, Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship. Her assets and career have been kept under the control of her father, Jamie Spears, as well as an attorney. A movement called #FreeBritney has pushed for that conservatorship to be lifted — and Spears herself recently gave a speech in court asking for autonomy over her own life. Today, another court hearing will help determine where she stands. So we're breaking down everything you need to know about Britney Spears' conservatorship.
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much about this story, Why is this such a big story, it's not just that Britney Spears is a big pop star that it kind of reaches beyond that. And I think for me, and, you know, one thing that I wanted to touch on here is I watched that framing Britney Spears documentary that came out earlier this year, that's on hulu Andrew alluded to it. And one of the big things that really jumped out of that film was watching the pop cultural discussions around Britney Spears at the time, watching talk show monologues about her watching the way she was talked about in the culture in some kind of truly horrifying ways. You know, I was writing about pop music, I can't pretend that I was innocent of it either. I think there seems to be a lot of reassessment as a culture of how she was treated and how we as consumers, as writers, as fans, as commentators, was I complicit in the way that Britney Spears was treated, and I think that kind of soul searching is really interesting right now totally. I mean I can't help but think about how her struggles became fodder for the machine, right? There was a lot of either kind of voyeuristic, oh look at her, shaving her head or look at her bashing a paparazzi's car with an umbrella. But there was always, to me an element of it was just fodder for how a lot of women in the entertainment industry who have been treated for a long time and I really think there's a discussion here to be had about agency and gender. I mean a lot of the social media comments I've seen after her testimony were okay, there are many male stars who have had very public mental health problems, public substance abuse struggles, you know, people said how is this different from Kanye, how is this different from robert Downey Jr how is this different from charlie Sheen? They were never placed in conservatorships, You know, this is a woman who, as you said at the very top. She's released four albums, I think two of them went platinum, She was a judge on the X Factor. She did a four year Las Vegas residency that generated something like $138 million. Generally conservative ships are reserved for people who cannot look after their own best interest day to day. And she frankly just does not fit that profile at all. And there's also this whole ecosystem of people who seem to have been profiting from this arrangement and I'm not just talking even her immediate circle, they're sort of like Galaxies of people at the law firms and security companies and things like that, who seem to have profited very well for a very long time now. And I think that's part of people's fascination to. I was just curious like as somebody who wasn't in the game right? In the media game during this all came out and who I guess is just absolutely in the media game now. I feel like we treat the like pop stars as consumption items a little bit differently now. Right? And, and like maybe that comes in key with like the pop tim is um swing right? That like people like the Beyonce and taylor swift and Olivia Rodriguez of the world deserve to be taken seriously and critically as artists, which I don't think was a shake given to the Christina Aguilera's and brady speeches of the world at least back in my day. You know what I mean? And I wonder if you guys Think it's, that's changed. Like if 18 pop star today had let's say, like, had an issue, had a mental issue. Like, would we treat them the same way? Like, the cynical part of me still says like, yeah, we probably would still eat them up. I think there has been a massive shift. You mentioned the pop dimmest revolution and kind of the way that pop stars began to be viewed differently, probably starting about 20 years ago where I think a lot of writers, I can only speak from my own experience as a writer. Like I remember, I used to think of Britney Spears as the machine, not as the product of the machine, not as somebody who was exploited by the machine, but as the machine herself, which is an incredibly un empathetic way to view what her life must have been like. But I think there was a process that took place somewhat with the rise of social media somewhat with there were a few pop songs that really kind of seemed to trigger a difference in the way a lot of critics thought about pop music, interestingly one of those pop songs was toxic by Britney speakers, where all of a sudden people talked about pop music in a little bit different way. And I think that signal a little bit of a shift in the way we think about pop stars and where people started to think of pop stars more as people and people who are going through things instead of thinking of them as machines. And I think in a weird way she kind of helped usher in a more empathetic and human view of what pop stars are going through that has made it a little bit more possible for pop stars to become hugely famous and be treated fairly and live Happy lives Well, it's totally unclear right whether or not we see unvarnished truths on like star social media, right? Because that's all mediated to write. Like as much as it's the veneer of immediacy, I mean maybe I'm cynic, but that's kind of how I think about it because these things are all managed to and planned and lots of there's a machine there too, but she really is kind of in this interesting cuss place, right? Because as you said, like around the time of toxic it felt like there was a shift and there are also stars who were her very near peers like Beyonce, who have a totally different relationship to the public. I mean they were born the same year and I can't help but think of them as almost belonging to two different eras in terms of how they relate to their public, and I think there are also unique circumstances around every rise to pop stardom, right? Every person's ecosystem is different and every person's family is different. I interviewed Billy Eilish at ACL in 2019 and talked to her parents backstage and it was just very clear that she had a very different kind of team around her than we're talking about when we talk about Britney Spears and Britney Spears got dealt a really rough hand in so many ways, including the era in which she came up. I mean, I'm dating myself here, but I've written about this that I worked for her record label group around the same time she was coming up and there was a super paternalistic culture there, and I don't mean just because she was a glittering young woman. I mean, like even the boy bands who she was labelled mites with, you know, in a lot of cases, had very unscrupulous management or who turned out to be afterwards and kind of being taken advantage of was part of the game, and that was terrible. But there was sort of, in the industry, I think there was kind of a winking or not, that that was just the way things were. And, you know, obviously Britney Spears seems to have had very particular family challenges too. But like, I think she was very much a product of that culture and that time of place that you couldn't necessarily rely on management to be looking after your best interests and, you know, who's to say whether or not the label was looking after those people's best interests. But yeah, to your point, like, it feels like a very un perfect storm of circumstances around Britney in particular, and it seems like she's almost trapped in Amber, that those circumstances have held sway for a lot, lot of her lifetime. Well, thanks so much to both of you guys for being here. Obviously there's a hearing today that's going to reveal more. I appreciate all the hard work you guys have done reporting this story as it unfolded. So, Anastasia and Andrew thanks to.
of her estate, right? Which is her money, the money side of this stuff. And then after her testimony in june, they requested to tap out of the agreement altogether. And so the judge has to then clear that and say yes, you can or can't leave. The other interesting thing that's happening today. Honest actually mentioned that Sam ingram requested to resign if like another court appointed lawyer can take its place, that's set to be decided on today. Also, her mother had asked if Britney can be allowed to hire a private lawyer instead. Right? So we have a couple of like jockeying things going on about who is going to be representing Britney from here on out, which theoretically could then cause a chain reaction of expediting her to be get out the conservative or be stuck in it for another cycle or so. Okay, so Andrew gave kind of a sense of what might happen today, Anastasia what do you see as some of the possible outcomes? Well, there are so many things going on now and honestly, so many of the things filed are actually working at cross purposes with each other, right? Because for example, Lynne Spears Britney's mom is asking for her to be able to pick her own lawyer, whereas the current conservator of Britney's person, which is the technical term, the person who's looking over her personal stuff, jodi Montgomery is asking the court to appoint someone else entirely. So there's like people coming at this with different angles to slightly different ends. So I think that the first job for the judge is going to decide what the biggest priorities are legally and then going from there and sort of like a lot of dominoes fall into place with the departure of saying Ingham, her own lawyer right now, she may not be in a position to file a petition to end the conservatorship altogether by herself right now, which of course is what a lot of fans are hoping to have happen. But a lot of the media reports we've been seeing from sources who are clearly close to Britney is that she has very limited access to even telephones and things like that. So, you know, how would she be able to file court documents for herself? Would be a huge question. So I think as Andrew said, it's really going to be a question of seeing who can do these things on her behalf and then having the judge sort of let all these other things fall into place. The other thing I wanted to say is that, and directly reported this earlier this week by California law, Britney actually could be falling by herself, but it doesn't seem possible that that's going to happen right now. But at the very least after 13 years, the wheel seemed to be finally moving. And what clearly unstuck them was this public testimony of Britney's. And the weird thing in retrospect is that none of us would have had access to her remarks had this not happened during Covid. The fact that this became instantaneously worldwide talk and a worldwide debate is really because of the time, the weird times in which we live. So can you expand on what you mean by that? You just mean? Because these statements are being made over computers and remotely instead of So she spoke remotely to the court and for better or worse, the audio of that testimony leaked and was posted immediately online. And lots of media organizations, including us ran transcripts of that testimony. So something that wouldn't necessarily have been public was instantaneously public. And and sort of all that anguish that she's had pent up for a long time was really visceral immediately. So there's one kind of last, larger question that I want to get out in this conversation, and it may seem a little amorphous, but I want to get to the bottom a little bit and have us each speak to for lack of a better question why?
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