Months after the New York Times-produced Hulu documentary Framing Britney Spears brought the plight of Britney Spears into homes worldwide — and more than a decade after the #FreeBritney movement started — the embattled pop superstar detailed in court the harsh and allegedly abusive conservatorship she’s endured at the hands of her father, Jamie. The allegations were nothing short of shocking.
In her 20-minute remote testimony, Spears broke her (possibly involuntary) silence to tell LA Judge Brenda Penny what fans and the documentary had asserted: That her father’s grip over her life and finances was ironclad for the past 13 years. Spears spoke of being forced to take anti-depressants and perform against her will. She disclosed that due to the conservatorship she has been forbidden from marrying or conceiving a child, and spoke at length of being denied the right to remove an IUD, likening the experience to sex trafficking.
And she passionately pled with the judge to end the court-ordered conservatorship that left her feeling like a prisoner, saying simply “I just want my life back.”
Spears’ father has denied any wrongdoing.
It’s all extremely heavy, the culmination decades of media abuse and personal turmoil endured by Spears, who began her ascent to stardom as a teenage Mouseketeer before becoming a multi-platinum legend with the release of "...Baby One More Time" in 1998, when she was just 17. In the wake of #FreeBritney, fans and media have been forced to take a hard look at their role in destructive celebrity culture, misogyny and the mockery of mental illness that percolated during Spears' heyday.
While fans rallied outside the courthouse in support of Spears, celebrities — some of whom have been complicit in Spears’ turmoil — took to Twitter to publicly support the artist.
Spears’ ex Justin Timberlake — who has been dragged relentlessly for his past comments on his ex-girlfriend and the contents of the Britney-bashing "Cry Me A River" — was first in line to rally support for Spears, calling out the case’s larger place in the fight over women’s rights to choose what happens to their own bodies. (Timberlake, it should be noted, previously apologized publicly for his past misogyny and his role in demonizing Spears at the peak of her fame.)
Rose McGowan, whose involvement with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have seen her become one of the most visible figureheads in the fight against Hollywood’s abuse of women, tweeted out her support. She later turned heads when she commented on the situation on the most unlikely of shows: Fox News’ highly controversial (and frequently anti-woman) Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Mariah Carey — who herself has endured a career-spanning barrage of media scrutiny — kept things simple in her message of love.
As did pop star Halsey.
Jameela Jamil — who played a Spears superfan on The Good Place — decried Spears’ victimhood as enduring "the most bizarre theft of freedom that has happened right in front of our eyes."
The View co-host and conservative political firebrand took to Twitter say that Spears’ father should be jailed for his abuse.
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton — who gained infamy for his relentless mockery of Spears in the aughts — praised Spears’ eloquence and courage in a barrage of tweets and videos. The blogger had previously apologized personally to Spears for his repeated skewering of her mental illness. (His main Twitter page, meanwhile, still prominently features a particularly unflattering picture of Spears.)
The Britney Spears conservatorship testimony is ongoing, with no specific end date available.