Hulu premiered a New York Times documentary called Framing Britney Spears that has put the spotlight on conservatorship in America. Britney Spears has been under her father’s control since she had a public meltdown at a gas station in 2007. Jamie Spears, the starlet’s father, claimed that his daughter was under threat of undue influence and had her put under his legal guardianship. Fourteen years later, he still has control over her finances even though she has proven capable of performing at a very high level during that time.
It could be argued that the meltdowns Britney suffered were due to the intense paparazzi tormentors who followed her everywhere and at times endangered her safety, causing her to do things like drive away with her baby in her lap instead of in a car seat. Much like Princess Diana, Britney was dogged by the press everywhere she went. How sane would you be if that was your life?
The question of Britney’s sanity or capability to run her own life should be investigated. Lots of people who are not Britney Spears are making huge money off of her conservatorship, including her father’s lawyers (who are paid by Britney) and her father, who gets a portion of her earnings as the legal conservator. At one point, Britney was raking in so much cash that her father’s lawyer asked for a raise!
If the main reason that a person is under a conservatorship is that she is “insane” or not capable of doing life alone, how can she also be a top-earning superstar performer showing up to work every day on a grueling schedule? Many of her fans hold these valid concerns, along with a healthy dose of skepticism about where our system of legal conservatorship is concerned.
My main problem with the film, however, is that it does not go deep enough into conservatorship in general. Britney is only the most visible victim of this institution but there are many, especially seniors, suffering financial losses anonymously due to this unfair and predatory system.
Billie Mintz directed the wonderful film The Guardians, which can be seen on Amazon, that truly rips the scab off this festering corruption called “conservatorship.” Those who watch the Hulu documentary about Britney’s personal troubles should follow it up with The Guardians for a true look at what conservatorship actually does and how it is used to bankrupt families and steal the wealth of others. The truth is that Britney’s situation, while lamentable, is far better than what is being done to senior citizens whom no one knows and who are being forced into mental institutions while their property is confiscated by agents of the state. Britney, at least, is allowed to live in her mansion according to the lifestyle she is accustomed to. The majority of people in conservatorships are suffering and dying separated from their families and property. It is a scam of epic proportions and maybe it’s a blessing this happened to Britney so she can blow the lid off it for people with no voice. She’s in a wonderful position to truly do good through this and I hope she will.
You can hear my exclusive VIP interview with director Billie Mintz on my podcast “The Fringe.” Don’t miss it.
I hope that if Britney is eventually released from this conservatorship, she will work to bring awareness to the abuse that the powerless are suffering under this same system. Framing Britney is worth watching but don’t stop there. Watch The Guardians to find out the real horror underneath.