When the phrase first entered the national lexicon, #FreeBritney referred to the push to liberate Britney Spears from her marriage to Kevin Federline.
These days, Britney and K-Fed’s marriage has been over for more than a decade, but the push to secure Spears’ independence is stronger than ever.
These days, however, Brit’s battling against an opponent far more formidable than some lanky backup dancer with aspirations to make it as a rapper.
The man holding Spears down in 2020 is her own father, and his authority is backed by the law.
Britney is bound by the terms of a conservatorship, meaning a judge has determined that she’s incapable of making major decisions about her own life.
According to the court’s decision, the singer “cannot make key decisions, personal or financial, without the approval of her conservators: her father, Jamie Spears, and a lawyer, Andrew M. Wallet.”
The two men share their responsibilities with Britney’s care manager, a woman named Jodi Montgomery.
Together they preside over everything from Britney’s $60 million fortune to her child custody arrangement with her ex.
The arrangement has been in place since Spears suffered a meltdown amid intense career and personal pressure back in 2008.
She’s been struggling to free herself from the conservatorship ever since.
“I basically just want my life back…I want to be able to drive my car,” she told Rolling Stone that same year.
“I want to be able to live in my house by myself. I want to be able to say who’s going to be my security guard.”
Needless to say, it’s not hard to see why many fans have gone so far as to say that Britney is being held captive.
And the events of the past few months have done little to put their minds at ease.
The trouble began back in April when Britney accidentally burned down her home gym.
Fans began paying closer attention to Spears’ Instagram page looking for signs of distress.
And many were upset with what they found.
Spears appeared discombobulated in many of her videos, and there was a disturbingly repetitive quality to her posts.
In her photos, she was almost always posed in a similar fashion — standing in front of a plain white wall, smiling awkwardly, and dressed in a sort of childlike way that fans had never seen before.
That’s when the prompts began.
Commenters encouraged Spears to wear yellow and do a twirl in her next video if she needed help.
She did so.
As Mashable notes, one fan encouraged Spears to post doves if she needed assistance from the outside world.
She later posted a Hans Zatzka painting that featured several doves.
On TikTok and Instagram, the #FreeBritney movement has picked up steam, with fans creating entire accounts dedicated to liberating Spears.
“For 12 years, she has been denied basic human rights under a legal tool reserved for incapacitated individuals that generates millions of dollars in revenue for her team,” wrote one activist.
Recently, a post on Spears’ page sought to bring an end to the movement:
“Don’t believe everything you read and hear. Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way,” Spears wrote.
“You may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want!”
But as many commenters pointed out, there’s no way to be certain that Spears was the author of the post.
The events of the past week only deepened concerns, as a conservatorship review hearing was canceled amid alleged fears about privacy.
Shortly thereafter, Britney’s brother, Bryan Spears, gave an interview in which he described the conservatorship as “a wonderful thing” for his family.
We don’t know for sure that anything is amiss in Britney’s world, but given the mountain of evidence to that effect, it’s not hard to see why fans are concerned.