We’ve never heard Britney Spears speak like this before, says Maureen Callahan in the New York Post. “I just want my life back,” the 39-year-old singer pleaded in a Los Angeles court on Wednesday. For 24 minutes she told the judge exactly “what she thinks and feels” about the court-ordered conservatorship that granted her father, Jamie, control of her life and $60m estate in 2008. “I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m OK and happy,” she said. “But now I’m telling you the truth, I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane.” This is the stuff of The Handmaid’s Tale.
The mother of two claimed that she wants to get married and have another baby, but isn’t allowed to have her IUD removed; that she was put on lithium for years, which “made me feel drunk”; and that she is made to work against her will. “The only thing similar to this [in California] is sex trafficking,” she said. Her phone, passport and credit card have been taken. “I cried on the phone to my dad for an hour and he loved every minute of it.” He and everyone else involved “should be in jail”. Later she apologised to fans for pretending “like everything was OK” with two years of upbeat social media posts.
The battle is “rooted in the family’s troubled history”, says The New York Times. Jamie Spears survived a car accident that killed a football teammate aged 17. Four years before that, his mother had committed suicide on the grave of his infant brother. At 22 he was arrested on drug and “driving while intoxicated” charges. In her 2008 memoir, Lynne – Jamie’s second wife and Britney’s mother — recalled years of “verbal abuse, abandonment” and “erratic behaviour”. Their divorce in 2002 was “the best thing that ever happened to our family”.
Jamie Spears insists the conservatorship “rescued [Britney] from a low point”. The tabloids had gleefully picked over her “breakdown” in 2007, when she shaved her head and attacked a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella. But fans have long asked how the court could deem her unable to protect and care for herself “despite the fact that she was still a performing pop star”. Court records from 2016 show the singer tried to regain control years ago. The arrangement allegedly covered everything from the people she dated to the colour of her kitchen cabinets. She just wants to enjoy her life again, says The New York Times, including simple pleasures such as getting her hair and nails done “freely”.