Britney Spears trial: from pop singer to symbolic figure

As of: 09/29/2021 01:08 p.m.

Irritating messages on her Instagram A movement started: The fact that not only fans show solidarity with the singer in Britney Spears’ guardianship process is also due to her status as a multiple symbolic figure.

By Katharina Wilhelm, ARD Studio Los Angeles

Is Britney Spears being held at home against her will? Does the US singer communicate with her fans with roses and t-shirt colors? These and other theories were put forward by their fans. The starting point was a podcast of two comedians from Los Angeles who analyzed Spears’ Instagram channel because it struck them as strange.

“She was only ever seen at home alone – now, after all the revelations, we know that she was cut off from communication and that she really wanted to communicate with secret messages to the outside world,” said Tess Barker, one of the two podcasters.

With their research, they founded the hashtag #FreeBritney – a call to end the guardianship of their father Jamie Spears over the singer.

Incapacitated – and still on stage

After psychological breakdowns in 2008, Spears was incapacitated – but continued to appear in public, gave shows, went on concert tours. At some point, it wasn’t just the fans who doubted that it was all right.

The “New York Times” also dealt with the case in depth in the documentary “Framing Britney Spears”: The journalists were able to prove for the first time that Spears had been trying to get rid of her father as guardian since 2014.

When the lawsuit against guardianship goes to court in Los Angeles, Britney Spears fans are there – with messages of support in all forms.


“I am traumatized”

In June 2021, the singer commented on her case by phone in court and confirmed the suspicions of her fans:

I lied and told the world I was okay. That was a lie. I am traumatized, I am angry, and depressed!

In the court phone call, the recording of which was leaked, the singer accuses her father and her management, among other things, of forcing her to work. She was also forbidden from marrying and having more children.

“I shouldn’t be in a guardianship if I can work for myself and pay other people. It doesn’t make sense, the laws have to change!” She said. “My management and my father, they belong in jail!”

Debate about the guardianship system

Since Britney Spears’ case became known to the public, there has been increasing talk in the US about the system of care and guardianship. And about abuse of the incapacitated that can take place in it.

“Most of the people this issue affects are invisible in American society. They are seniors, people with disabilities. People who don’t have an army of fans behind them,” says Tess Barker, who is discovering more cases of guardianship abuse Has. “When you think about how hard it was for a star like that to get out of there, how hard is it for normal people? otherwise do not have their own platform. “

Dealing with female stars before #MeToo

The fact that the Spears case receives so much attention is also due to the fact that it has a number of socio-political facets: For many Britney Spears is now a kind of symbolic figure for the time before #MeToo. Interviews from the early 2000s, in which the then underage singer was asked about her breasts, seem out of place in retrospect – at that time the question was almost typical of the way the tabloid media dealt with prominent women.

The “New York Times” columnist Jessica Bennett said in an interview with the radio network NPR that these were testimonies to a media culture that was shaped by a male gaze. The chase of the paparazzi and the malice of the media after their crashes would hardly be so conceivable today.

Maximum publicity, maximum observation: Britney Spears’ every move and crisis has been publicized for years – here she comes from a 2007 custody negotiation.

Image: picture-alliance / dpa

“Free Britney Act” planned

Britney Spears has also indirectly achieved something that is currently unusual in society and in politics in the USA: unity. Republican and Democratic politicians have jointly drafted the so-called “Free Britney Act”. This is intended to give people who are under a legal guardianship or supervision more rights – for example the possibility of appointing an independent supervisor. This is to prevent abuse in a guardianship.

It is still unclear how the next hearing will turn out: Britney’s father Jamie Spears recently applied for the end of guardianship, and her new lawyer Mathew Rosengart also wants to depose her father as soon as possible.

Podcaster Tess Barker believes that the judge will follow the father’s motion: In her opinion, the media attention and the protests have built up too much pressure for him to remain as a guardian.

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