After years of speculation about Britney Spears’s conservatorship, fans listened eagerly as the singer testified in an open court hearing last week. Speaking publicly on the matter for the first time, her testimony paints a disturbing picture of a starlet’s life stolen by the hands of fame and greed. A storyline that’s known all too well to the Black Mirror series.
Upon first glance, one would think a celebrity of Spears’s magnitude would have it all. With an abundance of fame, beauty, and fortune, the singer reigned spotlight as Hollywood’s dream girl for many years.
“I just want my life back”
For celebrities like Spears, however, behind the curtain of fame lies a web of exploitation, distrust, and depression. Claiming this as her reality in the June 23rd open court hearing, she testified against the conservatorship. Stating that the legal agreement which granted her father full control of her affairs since 2008 has felt “abusive” and “has done more harm than good.”
In her explosive testimony, Spears claimed that the conservatorship has stripped away her autonomy. Labeling the legal order as “dehumanizing.”
“I worked seven days a week, no days off, which in California, the only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking. Making anyone work against their will, taking all their possessions away — credit card, cash, phone, passport — and placing them in a home where they work with the people who live with them. They all lived in the house with me, the nurses, the 24-7 security…They watched me change every day — naked – morning, noon and night. My body – I had no privacy door for my room.”Britney Spears
The order was granted by the court after the star was hospitalized amid concerns over her mental health in 2008. Since then, her father along with her management company has remained in full control of the star’s life.
Fake it till you make it
This is not the first time Spears’s personal troubles have reached headlines. However, the singer’s testimony reveals the severity of her suffering had largely gone under the radar. The distressed singer spoke in court about how she was forced to mask her pain to fit the image of celebrated talent, fame, and success.
“I’ve lied and told the whole world “I’m OK and I’m happy.” It’s a lie. I thought I just maybe if I said that enough maybe I might become happy, because I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized.”Britney Spears
In addition, decades before the Free Britney Movement launched awareness onto this issue, Spears herself tried expressing her troubles musically. Explicitly seen in her early 2000’s song titled Lucky.
Released on August 8, 2000, by Jive Records, the ballad tells a story about a misunderstood pop star named Lucky. Feelings of unexplainable sorrow and emptiness burden Lucky’s life, despite appearing outwardly to have a perfect life. Despite fictional, fans can’t help but believe that the song was inspired by Spears’s own life.
“She’s so lucky,
she’s a star
but she cries,
in her lonely heart “Britney Spears, “Lucky”
Ashley Too and Britney Spears
Another work of fiction that fans speculate the inspiration behind is the Black Mirror episode titled “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too.”
The Black Mirror series explores a twisted, high-tech near-future where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide. Each episode presents a different plotline that alludes to current societal culture and projected fears.
Written by Charlie Brooker, the episode features Miley Cyrus as the character of Ashely O, an inspirational pop singer whose life is taken over by the control of her management team. Leading this team is Ashley’s aunt, Catherine, who forces Ashely to suppress her personality in order to fit the image of a bubbly teen sensation. The episode features prescription drugs as a weapon to maintain control over stars like Ashley.
After discovering that Ashley O has been writing less upbeat music and not taking the medication given to subdue her, Catherine laces her dinner with the drugs to render her comatose. Catherine appoints a team of doctors to exploit the singer’s sudden ailment by extracting songs from her brainwaves while in a coma.
Upon the aftermath of Britney’s trial, fans took to Twitter to discuss the commonalties between the episode’s plot and Spears’s conservatorship.
“The Britney Spears episode immediately made me think of Ashley Too episode on Black Mirror” @salva_mami
“That Black Mirror episode of Ashley O haunts me to this day because I had a feeling that’s what Britney Spears wrote” @jenndid
“Listening to Britney Spears conservatorship testimony all i can think of is how shes the real life Ashley O. Black Mirror was never just a TV show it was a warning” @ByErneston
In regards to the timeline of the termination to the legal grant, specialized conservatorship lawyer Sarah J. Wentz states that
The only way there would be a quick ruling is if the conservators agree jointly that now is the time to terminate,” Wentz explained. “If they contest it, it will basically be a trial where each side presents evidence to show why it’s needed or why it’s not needed. That can be an extensive process.”Sarah J. Wentz, Variety
While Spears’s testimony in court was a step in the right direction, the singer has yet to file a petition to terminate the conservatorship. Future updates on the case are still pending.