Some fans celebrate the end of custody of Britney Spears. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
After the success of the #FreeBritney movement, many fans obsessed with her posts believe that something is still wrong.
Nearly two years ago, in November 2021, a Los Angeles court ruled to revoke the “guardianship” of American singer Britney Spears, or a remedy that had controlled her assets and many aspects of his life for over 13 years. was entrusted to guardians. Custody, a legal instrument usually reserved for the elderly or mentally handicapped who are considered incapable of making many of their own decisions, was placed on Spears’ father in 2008, following the singer’s psychological crisis. She repeatedly requested that this be stopped, and in 2020 openly stated that she had been subjected to numerous abuses, alleging, among other things, that she had been drugged and forced to work against her will.
The first doubts about the legitimacy and conditions of Britney Spears’ custody were brought to the attention of the public in 2009 by a group of fans of the singer, who began to express concern about her physical and psychological well-being and interpret many of the posts published by Spears on social networks as requests for help. Out of these growing fears, a movement called #FreeBritney was born that called for the removal of the protection, publicly supported by celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Cher, Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, the singer’s historic ex-lover. buddy.
– Read also: Guardianship of Britney Spears from the start
After her guardianship was annulled, Spears returned to work, including releasing a song in collaboration with rapper will.i.am, as well as announcing a memoir detailing what happened to her success. While many of those who fueled the #FreeBritney movement were pleased with the November 2021 ruling, there is a group of fans old and new who continue to scan content posted by and about Spears for signs that something is still going on. not this way. . Their content has given rise to a kind of conspiracy theory that has spread widely on the Internet, even in Italy.
What do you think about it? #britneyspearsitalia #britneyspearsfilter #freebritney2023
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In January, some fans went so far as to call the police in the city where Spears lives and ask them to check that she was not in danger, after the singer posted on Instagram a photo of a Porsche 911 Carrera, claiming that in the US, “911” – emergency number. On the occasion, the singer wrote a rare public statement saying, “I love and adore my fans, but this time it went too far and my privacy was invaded. (…) I really hope that the public and my fans who care so much about me can respect my privacy and move forward.”
– Read also: fandom guide
In a long article about vox, journalist Rebecca Jennings stated that the tendency of some fans to interpret every signal from Spears as a cry for help often leads to conspiracy theories. “For these loosely connected groups of fans who gather around hashtags like #BritneyIsNotFree, #WhereIsBritney and #FindBritney, there’s something awkward about Spears’ post-custodial life,” Jennings wrote.
Among the various things that don’t add up, they say, is the fact that Spears, in the meantime, hasn’t parted ways with the people she frequented when she was in care, but she continues to work with them and spend money. time with them. Added to this is the fact that the singer still has a rather erratic presence on Instagram, often posting videos of her dancing erratically, with no makeup and messy hair, or deleting posts within minutes of posting them. Many are suspicious that the videos are very similar to each other, and are convinced that they were all filmed at the same time and uploaded several weeks apart to give the impression that the singer is at home, healthy. Others wonder why some of the photos show Spears having a gap between her two front teeth that she never had.
Based on such details, over the past year TikTok has developed a dense ecosystem of content creators who get a lot of views by posting “evidence” for theories that Spears was never actually “released” but will instead be held against his will. at a mental health center, as happened in 2019. One of them, Brennen White, told Jennings that he spends at least 30 hours a week investigating Britney’s situation, doing research and communicating as much as possible with people close to the singer. , but also shares his findings on podcasts and social media.
In part, these fans are troubled by the fact that since the defense was lifted, Spears has been subjected to a “treatment plan,” a document that is voluntarily kept secret that lists the steps needed to “help Spears adjust to life outside of the US.” guardianship”. Such lawsuits are quite common, and according to one of Spears’ former guardians, Jody Montgomery, their content is private, as it contains confidential information about the health of the singer and her children. However, according to fans like White, the document will allow a woman to continue to remain in a “midfield” state.
However, much of the speculation centers on a different event: the marriage of Spears to Sam Asghari, a personal trainer she met on the set of the video for the song “Slumber Party” in 2016. “When they got married on June 9, 2022. , fans took a closer look at the footage and pointed out some oddities: why, for example, were there so many great photos of Asghari and only grainy shots of Spears?” Jennings says. It was later pointed out that there was a strange cast of celebrities and that some of them, such as Ansel Elgort and Selena Gomez, were notoriously unfriends of Spears.
In addition, a few hours before the ceremony, the singer’s ex-husband, Jason Alexander, broke into the house armed with a knife, refusing to leave and broadcasting everything live on Instagram: according to some fans, this is a sign that he intended to “rescue” Britney from the marriage she didn’t want. “In the months following the wedding, many users who paid only marginal attention to the original #FreeBritney movement watched videos suggesting that Spears was still under someone’s control, or worse, it wasn’t her at all,” explains Jennings. . “Wedding photos and videos were the most important recruiting tool.”
So, in addition to Spears’ original fans, they were joined by a new group of influencers who began to create conspiracy content about the singer, knowing that they were attracting huge attention in this way. A very common theory among these profiles, for example, is that all of Spears’s appearances over the past two years – on Instagram, in paparazzi photos, at her wedding – are not really the singer’s, but look-alikes who are paid to be impersonated her or images created using artificial intelligence. To confirm this thesis, they check every available frame, identifying obvious inconsistencies. Many, says Jennings, are sincere in their concerns and find it hard to stop reflecting on Spears’ life after spending so many years in the #FreeBritney movement.
According to some people close to the singer, interviewed by Jennings, these kinds of theories also arise because ordinary fans are not aware of how the celebrity world works. For example, there was a theory online that Spears fell victim to an elite ring of prostitutes because she only dined in hotels, although it’s much more plausible that she did so because hotels are one of the most private places celebrities can go to dine. , whose cottages have many separate entrances.
Others think it’s hard for fans to accept the fact that the person they’ve idolized for a long time is just a 40-year-old woman who has always had some psychological weaknesses and is trying to figure out how to get back to normal after years of custody. “Throughout her career, Britney has had to live with the image of herself created by others, and when she didn’t stick to that image, she suffered the consequences. Now that she can finally control how she is portrayed, it makes people feel uncomfortable,” said Jordan Miller, founder of the BreatheHeavy fan forum. “Whenever conspiracy theories get a lot of attention, they destabilize the situation when she tries to gain confidence,” added a friend of Spears, who worked as her makeup artist for many years.
For her part, Spears doesn’t seem to be very comfortable with the way people interact with her Instagram profile. Last December, she stopped allowing people to comment on her social media posts, as fans used the comment section to post their wildest theories directly: for example, under a series of nude photos of the singer, there was a comment with many interactions that suggested she was locked in her home and that the published content was obtained without her consent, by taking photos and videos from behind a mirror. After temporarily deleting her Instagram profile, she explained that she did it “because too many people told me that I look like an idiot when I dance, or that I look crazy. To be honest, I tried my best and it frustrated me that people openly talk about it even on TV. It hurt my feelings.”
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