The #FreeBritney movement may have taken social media by storm recently but, as far back as 2008, the 39-year-old pop star admitted to her fans that she wanted her conservatorship to end. The FX documentary, Framing Britney Spears, which premiered on Feb. 5, shared a rare glimpse of the “Baby One More Time” singer tearfully admitting that she wanted to feel “liberated.”
The clip was taken from Britney: For the Record, MTV’s intimate behind the scenes look at Britney Spears and her relationship with her dad and conservator, Jamie Spears. “If I wasn’t under the restraints that I’m under right now – you know, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analyzing me every day and all that kind of stuff – like, if that wasn’t there, I’d feel so liberated and feel like myself,” the star said.
“When I tell them the way I feel, it’s like they hear me but [they’re] really not listening. They’re hearing what they want to hear. They’re not really listening to what I’m telling them. It’s like, it’s bad. And I’m sad.”
Framing Britney Spears also shared another moment from the MTV doc, which featured Britney mimicking her dad, saying, “She don’t listen to me. I scream at her and she gets on me about screaming at her, but I can’t do it and you’re just gonna have to talk some [expletive] sense into her.”
People can be heard laughing in the background but, in the years since the show aired, Britney’s relationship with her dad and the battle over the conservatorship have morphed into a tense, ongoing court battle.
It’s a controversy that’s explored in full in the FX documentary, which takes a look at the movement to free the mom-of-two of the legal constraints that have been in place ever since her father was granted conservatorship over her and her now $60 million fortune.
Jamie, 68, first obtained temporary – and then permanent – rights over his daughter’s personal and financial affairs in 2008, shortly after she was placed on a 72-hour involuntary psychiatric hold. The “unique legal arrangement” is “usually designed for elderly people who are unable to take care of themselves or their money,” Liz Day of The New York Times said in the documentary.
The senior editor also noted that the move was “unusual because Britney is so young and productive,” calling it “surprising in that Jamie wasn’t a huge figure in her life before this.”
Even back then the singer told a lawyer that she didn’t want her father to have legal control over her life. Adam Streisand, who specializes in conservatorships and battles over estates, said in the documentary that Britney made her feelings clear during a 2008 meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “She wanted a professional. Somebody independent,” he said, adding, “Britney did not want her father to be the conservator of her person. The person who makes decisions about her medical care and treatment and so on and so forth. She also didn’t want him controlling her finances.”
More than 12 years later, Britney’s failed attempts to remove her dad as the legal guardian over her personal and professional life continue. The singer doesn’t speak about the situation outside of court docs filed by her lawyers, but the scope of the conservatorship does concern her fans who have shown their support by protesting outside the Downtown Los Angeles court every time the case is heard.
It also perturbs some legal experts. “What’s really interesting is that Sam Ingham the other day in court said Britney is a high functioning conservatee,” Adam Streisand said of the star’s lawyer. “I don’t even know what that means. If she’s functioning enough to say, ‘Hey, I don’t want my father to be conservator. I’m not going to perform if he’s the conservator,’ maybe she doesn’t need a conservatorship.”
The New York Times Presents Framing Britney Spears premiered on FX on Feb. 5, 10pm. It will be available on Hulu from July 10.