Britney Spears

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Excerpts:
Britney Spears told a Los Angeles judge on Wednesday that she has been drugged, compelled to work against her will and prevented from removing her birth control device over the past 13 years as she pleaded with the court to end her father’s legal control of her life.
“I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized,” Ms. Spears, 39, said in an emotional 23-minute address by phone that was broadcast in the courtroom and, as she insisted, to the public. “I just want my life back.”
The singer has lived under a two-pronged conservatorship in California — covering her person and her estate — since 2008, when concerns about her mental health and potential substance abuse led Mr. Spears to petition the court for authority over his daughter.
Mr. Spears, 68, currently oversees Ms. Spears’s nearly $60 million fortune, alongside a professional wealth management firm she requested; a licensed professional conservator took over Ms. Spears’s personal care on an ongoing temporary basis in 2019.
Representatives for Mr. Spears and the conservatorship have said that it was necessary to protect Ms. Spears, and that she could move to end the conservatorship whenever she wanted.
But Ms. Spears said that she felt compelled to again address the judge in the case, Brenda Penny, after most recently speaking out against the conservatorship in a closed-door hearing in May 2019. “I don’t think I was heard on any level when I came to court the last time,” Ms. Spears said before recapping her previous remarks, including the claim that she had been forced to tour, undergo psychiatric evaluations and take medication in 2019. “The people who did that to me should not be able to walk away so easily,” she said.

 

Spun Silver

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God bless her. I hope she finally wins her freedom. And I hope she uses it wisely without trading one type of control for another - but it's her life and her money to use as she sees fit.

ETA: I wrote that before reading her whole statement. My heavens, what an outrage! Free Brittany indeed, but that's not enough - somebody needs to investigate this exploitative arrangement and punish its perpetrators, whether in her family, the CA courts, or the so-called therapeutic community. What a horrible situation. Thank God she had enough self-belief left to speak up and fight for herself.
 
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AxelAnnie

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Eloquent commentary from Maureen Callahan: Search
Freedom is great and not always good. She has suffered from extreme mental problems. I would like to see her with an overseer of some sort. Plan her long-term and short-term goals for her wealth and income. There is a lot of complexity involved in investing and maintaining her fortune.
She has no background in any of that. Hopefully, she will have a team around her who will plan with her.
 

mpal2

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I think one of the biggest problems is that she has repeatedly said she doesn't want her father in charge and no one cares. If they find that she does need someone because of mental health issues at least let her have a say in getting away from someone she clearly doesn't want to be around.
 

Coco

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So many disturbing aspects to this, but I noticed that the conservatorship is allegedly voluntary. She just needs to file the petition and be evaluated.

The article I read stated that she was not aware of that. Did her attorney or her boyfriend not explain it to her or is she just unable to retain the details? She needs to have an evaluation before it can be terminated. She doesn't want this evaluation. So...is there something going on with her condition that will make her fail the evaluation? Or is she just sick of it all and doesn't want to see yet another doctor.

Another possibility is that her attorney is not following her wishes. Is this because of the attorney has been persuaded by her dad and the people who manage her money or because he's aware of aspects of her medical condition that cause him to not listen to her.

What struck me about what I read was that her attorney is clearly not on the same page as her. There can be legitimate or illegitimate reasons for that to be the case.

There may be valid reasons for a conservatorship to continue, but clearly the relationship with her dad is so bad he should have been removed from all aspects of it many many years ago.

The detail in that New York Post article about the judge objecting to Britney asking for her father to be drug and alcohol tested was shocking.
 

mpal2

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So many disturbing aspects to this, but I noticed that the conservatorship is allegedly voluntary. She just needs to file the petition and be evaluated.
I could be getting this wrong because I'm relying on memory. I believe they threatened her with losing custody of her children unless she agreed to a conservatorship. I'm not sure this was entirely voluntary with that kind of threat.
 

clairecloutier

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Another possibility is that her attorney is not following her wishes. Is this because of the attorney has been persuaded by her dad and the people who manage her money or because he's aware of aspects of her medical condition that cause him to not listen to her.

Yesterday there was a long article in The New York Times about Spears's case. The information below, quoted from the article, may be relevant:

The singer stressed that she did not want her father in charge [of the conservatorship], a lawyer she consulted at the time has said. But the judge overseeing the case, Reva Goetz, deemed Ms. Spears incapable of hiring her own counsel and appointed Mr. Ingham, the lawyer who represents her to this day.

Judge Goetz appears to have made several rulings that were inexplicably (IMO anyway) favorable to Spears's father, over Spears herself. Why?
 

puglover

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This is a challenging topic for me as I have a daughter who suffered from a severe mental illness during her twenties and into her thirties. In any other illness, the person afflicted is their own best witness as to what is happening but we soon learnt that in the case of mental illness where it is the brain that is ill, that is often not the case. Fortunately, she did trust us and for years we did call many of the shots. As we very occasionally speak of those terrible years now, we remember them very differently. We did not have the added pressure of people taking advantage of her and she is happily married to a very supportive man who loves her for who she is. Specialists did find a "magic bullet" for her that allows her to live a normal, productive life with very few negative side affects. However, her husband is somewhat anti modern medicine and they have made several unsuccessful attempts to wean her off "chemicals" and I hope that he has come to realize that is a disasterous idea. She has two lovely boys but the pregnancys and hormone changes of both were very frightening. They would have liked to have one more child but they recognize the assummed cost to her health and the families well being is just too high.

That being said, I do really feel for Britney. I don't understand if she is well enough now to entertain that she is not well enough to at least have more say in her own affairs.
 

VGThuy

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The judge is probably more abreast of the issue than the public is. I do think her father needs to be out of the picture because for whatever reason, she no longer has trust in him and his continued role in her life is causing her too much stress and pain. It would be better for him too, unless he really is as devious as Britney Spears makes him out to be and he has a huge investment as to keeping control.

I just hope all of this gets resolved to Britney's well-being and happiness and safety. There is so much this case touches upon, like the right for those people may think are "mentally ill" to self-determination and to make their own decisions despite being worried that they'll make "bad" ones. It's a weird influx of individual rights v. protectionism, which sort has negative connotations. Who are we to say she can't control her own fortune even if we're afraid she may be irresponsible? People are free to make bad choices. The question is if she's truly incapacitated to make any decision on her own.

All that being said, the only reason I'm not super emotional and jumping up and down to campaign for Britney right away is that we must be aware that when we hear this sort of emotional testimony from her, of course, we'll going to be compelled by her side of the story in the most sympathetic way possible and see all the people she's alleging to be bad actors as well, bad. Just remember the judge and the courts have made decisions in the past that seem questionable but usually there is a reason for it. Unless there's a huge abuse of power from the judge. The courts must deal with a lot more "facts" and versions of the story than a sympathetic plea by the first-party who wants to change the current agreement.

I'm not saying I don't believe her or side with her, but that I'm keeping an open mind and do wish that the outcome works in her best interests and in a way that makes her truly happy and freer to make her own decisions as the adult she is and as someone who made all of that money herself.
 

maatTheViking

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That being said, I do really feel for Britney. I don't understand if she is well enough now to entertain that she is not well enough to at least have more say in her own affairs.

I think this is key for me. If she needs help to manage her affairs that is one thing, but reading one article she was not allowed to reject a dance move for her show?

I honestly think that in a case like Spears there is so much money involved. How can any of these people be trusted to have her interest in mind, when they're set to profit off it?
 

FiveRinger

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I was just horrified when I heard the audio. H-O-R-R-I-F-I-E-D!!!

I remember all of those years ago when Britney shaved her head (and ended up in treatment) as a way to get people to listen to her. And they still aren't listening! There is such a huge difference in listening and paying attention.....this is all obscene.

They're so many levels of actual abuse here. Forcing her to work, forcing her to take unnecessary medication, controlling her birth control, keeping her children from her, not allowing her to chose an attorney for herself and the ones who have been chosen or appointed are manipulating her, not having any control over who represents her in this conservatorship....it just goes on and on. Talk about a gilded cage.....

I cried when she said that she was scared to get off the phone, didn't want the hearing to end, because she was terrified of what her "punishment" would be.

Can someone here elaborate as to whether or not she can really be released from the conservatorship without an evaluation? Or is there a way for her to do an evaluation in a setting that is more comfortable for her? Britney was clear about not wanting to do one, having a problem with the extensive testing that they were doing and being in confined spaces.

It is amazing what a model Britney has been in the entertainment industry. After she hit the scene, there were girls everywhere trying to emulate the success that she had. She was a trailblazer then. But I'm more impressed with her speaking up, finding a platform, and talking about the circumstances that she finds herself in now. I don't pretend to have a clue about what's going to happen going forward, but I hope that she finds the peace that she's looking for.
 

clairecloutier

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I definitely get that there are complicated issues in dealing with mental health. I just am wary of our legal and social system's tendencies toward treating women harshly when they "get out of line" or don't behave as other people want.

I also look askance at a situation where a woman's father and ex-husband have reportedly, at times, been getting twice as much cash out of her estate on a monthly basis as she has herself.
 

FiveRinger

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I definitely get that there are complicated issues in dealing with mental health. I just am wary of our legal and social system's tendencies toward treating women harshly when they "get out of line" or don't behave as other people want.

I also look askance at a situation where a woman's father and ex-husband have reportedly, at times, been getting twice as much cash out of her estate on a monthly basis as she has herself.
There is some mysogyny at work here, for sure.
 

MacMadame

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What struck me about what I read was that her attorney is clearly not on the same page as her. There can be legitimate or illegitimate reasons for that to be the case.
As was mentioned, the attorney was appointed for her. So this is not surprising.

I am not sure Spears statement will help her. It seems like she wants to stop going to therapy, stop taking her meds, and have babies. I can see the judge saying No to all that. I do think the whole conservatorship industry needs reform and I do agree with her that, if she can work at a high level, she clearly doesn't need a conservatorship. But her statement raised a lot of red flags for me and I don't think the judge will be impressed.

Speaking of the judge, I am unimpressed with her. I don't think you should set up a conservatorship and put the parent that Spears has a bad or no relationship with and who has issues of his own in charge of it. He absolutely should be tested for drugs, as Spears has requested.
 

VGThuy

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But back in 2008 when he filed the original petition that was granted, there was another person who was co-conservator who resigned years later, and Britney most likely didn't bring up any issues she had with her father to the court try to change the situation until now. There was a 2019 hearing, but that's sealed so who knows what's going on. Like @puglover said, it's probably a really challenging situation and I bet her family members who may support continued conservatorship have their owns stories to tell as to why they do so. I myself had to deal with a mentally ill sibling who got it into his head that certain members of the family were his enemies and certain ones were not no matter what we all actually did. He just decided. I do think now that Britney testified she wants her father gone and out of control over her business and life affairs, it would be best to grant her wish whether or not she's still under conservatorship because obviously it's no longer a functioning relationship.
 

overedge

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When someone has been pushed to perform since childhood and then trapped into an intense cycle of record-tour-record-tour, with pressure to maintain a huge level of success and $$$ revenue, it's not at all surprising that at some point she would have mental health problems.
 

Coco

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What's so jarring about this is that if she is really incapacitated to the point where she can't make decisions about birth control/pregnancy or her kitchen cabinets, how on earth is she capable of performing concerts?
 

VGThuy

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When someone has been pushed to perform since childhood and then trapped into an intense cycle of record-tour-record-tour, with pressure to maintain a huge level of success and $$$ revenue, it's not at all surprising that at some point she would have mental health problems.
Very true. I don't mean to say mental illness only manifests itself in a Britney Spears-high level stress situation of constantly being pushed to work and that it's way more complex and it can happened to anyone in any situation. I just mean to say that I remember seeing videos of her just walking out of a store or a Starbucks and the Papparazzi just wouldn't let up. It was a sea of photo-hogs and tabloid journalists and others constantly following her wherever she went and never letting up. Add that lack of normalcy to her rigid working schedule, contracts she felt she was obligated to fulfill while clearly under duress, and having things like child custody/visitation being dangled in front of her, yeah, it's not a healthy situation at all (what an understatement).

What's so jarring about this is that if she is really incapacitated to the point where she can't make decisions about birth control/pregnancy or her kitchen cabinets, how on earth is she capable of performing concerts?
That's kind of what I'm wondering too. I just remember that the conservatorship was supposed to be temporary and only done while Britney focused on her mental health and well-being while other people took care of her debt and contractual obligations and any other liens. It was also to protect her from predatory folks who were taking advantage of her financially at the time. 13-years-later, all of the financial issues that Britney struggled with and any vulnerability should have been resolved by now. Just because she may suffer from mental illness does not mean she can't be in control of her own life because otherwise, many more people would be under control of others. Taking away someone's liberty is a big deal and rightfully these types of conservatorships are rare as standards are usually high to prove that someone needs to be under one. I kind of think a lot of is that she's been under one for so long, the people in her life may be assuming she now can't live without one.
 
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mpal2

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I kind of think a lot of is that she's been under one for so long, the people in her life may be assuming she now can't live without one.
My cousin has mental health issues and does need a guardian. My aunt and grandmother went way too far "protecting" her. Her best years were in sort of a halfway house with a guardian but she was also working, making her own money and learning how to make her own decisions. My aunt and grandmother worried so much about her inability to do these things and took her out of that house. They made her completely incompetent in the name of helping her. I struggle with this because my cousin needs a lot more help now than she ever should have needed. They have to now get her to believe that she is capable of doing more than my aunt or grandmother let her do. It's almost impossible to fix now and go back to the point where she was better off.
 

kwanfan1818

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You can also set up control over someone's existing finances, as in, have someone manage her finances and even have to co-sign for large new ones and provide a good, fixed income, which I've seen in force for people with bipolar disorder, where extravagant spending is one of the symptoms during manic phases, but to force her into 1. working 2. attending sessions with specific types of therapy with specific therapists and 3. remaining unable to have children among the social controls is beyond, without proof that she would harm herself (extremely) or others.
 

overedge

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Britney may still be having financial issues (as in, not enough $$$) depending on what kinds of contracts she or her parents signed back in the day. Even if an artist sells a bazillion records, the majority of the revenue may go to management, the record company, the producer, the music publisher, the songwriter, etc. etc. rather than to the artist. Since her sons live with their dad IIRC she is probably paying child support to him, and also IIRC she paid, or pays, him a significant amount of money as a settlement in their divorce.
 

Judy

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I’ve never really followed a lot about Brittany although was aware of the mental health issues.

Bipolar is tricky too. I read an article where she is in a serious relationship and wants a baby. That can be a bit risky because of the meds.

she should be allowed to pick a very competent and established financial team. It’s an awful lot of money … so hoping it turns out well.

are her children with her or aplit between the dad?
 

MacMadame

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Britney may still be having financial issues (as in, not enough $$$) depending on what kinds of contracts she or her parents signed back in the day. Even if an artist sells a bazillion records, the majority of the revenue may go to management, the record company, the producer, the music publisher, the songwriter, etc. etc. rather than to the artist.
The real money for artists comes from touring/doing shows. And she is doing that. These are new contracts, too, not something her parents signed when she was a minor.
 

overedge

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Her parents would have signed her first recording contracts, and she is likely still getting royalties from Hit Me Baby One More Time and songs from that era. Any time she or any other artists performs those songs live, or they get played on the radio or used in a show, she (or her company) gets a payment.

Also, touring as the main source of an artist's income is relatively recent, since file-sharing, iTunes, Spotify, etc. basically killed album/CD sales as a revenue stream. She or her company would have probably made more from record sales and radio play than from touring when she first became famous.
 

overedge

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@clairecloutier hit on a really important point about the father benefitting financially from the conservatorship. AFAIK both he and her mom stopped working when her career took off - I think either they worked for her in some undefined support role, or she just supported them financially along with supporting her sister and brother. So there might be a big conflict of interest with him, as he has a clear interest in remaining as conservator if he doesn't have any other source of income.

To be fair, he's probably got trained professionals helping with managing her finances and career, and he hopefully has developed some expertise in those areas, having been the conservator for that long. But other than that he doesn't seem to be doing anything that someone with similar experience couldn't do as well.
 

Barbara Manatee

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It seems like she wants to stop going to therapy, stop taking her meds, and have babies.
Those may all be bad decisions but they should be hers to make, and they would be if she wasn't so wealthy. She's rational enough to know it, too -

“Considering my family has lived off my conservatorship for 13 years, I won’t be surprised if one of them has something to say [against ending my conservatorship],” Britney Spears said yesterday. “I just don’t like feeling like I work for the people who I pay.”

But just how much did Jamie Spears actually pocket? During more than a decade of control, Britney Spears has paid him a monthly salary, provided office space and given him a cut of her celebrity. In all, Jamie Spears was paid at least $5 million before taxes since February 2008. Because of the conservatorship, Britney Spears also had to pay hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars in legal fees for both herself and her conservators.

At a minimum, her conservator should be someone who has no benefit or claim to her income and estate.
 

MacMadame

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Also, touring as the main source of an artist's income is relatively recent,
Not according to my friends who are in bands. They make the most money touring and mostly from merch and that has been true for about 25 years. (Maybe longer but that's how long they've been making a living as touring musicians.)

Artists have never been well paid for their work IMO.
 

VGThuy

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Those may all be bad decisions but they should be hers to make, and they would be if she wasn't so wealthy. She's rational enough to know it, too -



At a minimum, her conservator should be someone who has no benefit or claim to her income and estate.
Agreed. Her wanting “babies” is actually a very important issue and relates to forced sterilization. As for the medication issues, that’s really between her and a therapist she trusts.
 

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