SO, we have a woman of nearly 40 years, with two teenage children, who has no virtually control over her life or her substantial fortune.
It’s sounds like something straight out of Bridgerton, where women had to obey their fathers until they were married and then found themselves forced to be dutiful to their husband at all times.
Instead it’s the modern-day tragedy of Britney Spears, a vulnerable child-like woman whose father Jamie has “conservatorship” — similar to the UK’s power of attorney — over almost every aspect of her life.
This means for the past 13 years he has controlled her estate, career and, up until recently, much of her personal life.
In that time, she has continued to release music and perform sell-out shows in Vegas, and share custody of her two sons Sean, 15, and Jayden, 14, with ex-husband Kevin Federline.
But she remains limited in what she can actually do for herself.
Surely it’s only common sense that if Britney is constantly coddled and insulated from making her own decisions then no wonder she looks, sounds and acts like a little lost girl who needs protection.
Of course we have no idea what goes on behind closed doors and by all accounts her father is doing the best he can to protect and take care of his daughter, but to us on the outside it all seems utterly bizarre.
This week we saw an admittedly one-sided view of her life in the documentary Framing Britney Spears, where interviewees, including her former manager, stated their belief she should be free to lead her own life on her own terms.
Her fiercely loyal fans agree and set up the #Free- Britney campaign to help her achieve her independence.
The fact the star has repeatedly asked the court to reverse the ruling and give her back control clearly shows she wants her independence.
Just this week the case was back in court again, with Jamie Spears losing sole control of the superstar’s estate.
The independent firm Bessemer Trust has now been appointed as co-conservator — although Britney’s plea to have Jamie removed from her conservatorship altogether was once more denied.
Conservatorship in the US usually happens to the elderly or infirm who are no longer able to decide what’s best for them.
In Britney’s case it was her very public mental breakdown in 2007 that led to the intervention of the law courts.
Who can forget those deeply disturbing images of her shaving her hair off in a beauty salon while the paparazzi snapped and snarled outside.
The haunted look in her eyes was that of a baby deer caught in the headlights.
This was a wounded cry for help from a girl who just couldn’t take it any more.
The helicopter footage of her strapped to a stretcher and being taken to a psychiatric hospital was horrific, particularly as the poor girl was extensively mocked and made fun of by people in the public eye who should have known better.
One of the few who refused to cast stones at Britney back then was Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson, who used to present a late-night US talk show, very much in the same vein as James Corden does today.
Craig rejected jokes from his writers poking fun at Britney and instead used his opening monologue to ask for sympathy and understanding for the mentally ill mum whose sons were just toddlers at the time.
He was clearly ahead of his time regarding our attitude towards mental health, which although we have a long way to go, is a hell of a lot better than it was 13 years ago.
We shouldn’t forget that some of the treatment dished out to Britney at the time was downright cruel.
It’s all light years away from the cheeky 12-year-old who landed her dream role on Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club alongside her ex- boyfriend Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera.
She was then rebranded as a “Lolita temptress” with the video release of her song “. . . Baby One More Time” complete with a schoolgirl outfit and bucketloads of sass.
Britney has barely stopped working ever since and had amassed an enormous fortune, but at times she looks worryingly dead behind the eyes.
I do wonder what her day to day life is actually like.
I know some mega pop stars lead a very strange existence surrounded by their entourage, chased by the ever-present paparazzi and with fans constantly begging for selfies.
At least in the pandemic she’s had a bit of respite from that sort of world.
For someone so fragile who has never really had any kind of normal childhood, no wonder Britney needed to be taken care of by someone with her best interests at heart.
Again, I’m sure her father has tried his best, but unless there’s something we don’t know, it must be time for her to be free to lead her own life.
I reckon what this hard-working, flawed but extremely likeable woman needs is a good business manager who will give her firm but fair advice.
She also needs a stable relationship, and maybe a chance to just step back and enjoy time with her boys.
What she doesn’t need is to remain constrained like some sort of Regency debutante who isn’t allowed to be her own woman and who has no voice, apart from when she’s on stage.
Give her a helping hand
IT’S going to be a bit of a home-made Valentine’s Day tomorrow, with restaurants and pubs remaining closed – and I do feel very sorry for all the businesses that rely on February 14 to give their incomes a much-needed boost.
Of course, we can still order special flowers, chocolates and booze online and most of our favourite eating places will do takeouts or deliveries.
But to all the men out there, please remember that the most romantic thing you can do for us at this time is to empty the dishwasher and finally get to the bottom of the ironing pile.
- YOU have to feel a wee bit sorry for the Dutch coppers who thought they were investigating a murder until they realised their “victim” was a snowman.
All the evidence just melted away.
Saint Dolly a joy
I INTERVIEWED the delicious Dolly Parton this week alongside Bee Gees legend Barry Gibb.
The two of them collaborated on a track for Barry’s new album Greenfields, where he has re-recorded classic Bee Gees hits with high-profile artists including Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, Olivia Newton-John and, of course, the legendary Dolly, who performs a beautiful version of Words with him.
As is the norm these days, it was a Zoom interview with me in my living room wearing my tracksuit and slippers and Dolly and Barry in two different locations in the US.
As we got under way Dolly was being her usual charming self, but I thought Barry was being awfully quiet.
After about five minutes I got a bit worried and asked if he was OK.
Turns out he had done what so many of us do on these calls and had forgotten to unmute himself.
He was chatting away into an empty void and wondering why we weren’t including him in the conversation.
We were able to laugh about it and he did manage to get his tuppenceworth in, telling me we can expect a Bee Gees movie along the lines of Rocket Man and Bohemian Rhapsody, with Ryan Gosling in the frame to play Barry.
Dolly has been a real heroine during this pandemic, giving millions to fund research into a vaccine.
Of course, she played it down as being just a “little part”, but the woman is a walking saint and it was such a joy talking to two proper legends.
Shoot up for heroes
I SPOKE to an NHS medic this week who has been branded “Satan” and threatened with rape by disgusting online trolls, simply because she is doing her job and helping to save lives during this pandemic.
Dr Rachel Clarke admitted that the abuse caused her to have panic attacks and she knows the terrible effects it has had on the mental health of other members of her team, and generally throughout the whole of the NHS.
These wonderful men and women on the front line are making Herculean efforts to save lives.
They have to cope with seeing patients dying, console grieving relatives over the phone and then go back home to their families wrung out and mentally and physically exhausted.
The last thing in the world they need are the vile spewings of Covid deniers and batty conspiracy theorists.
Admittedly these fruit loops are a small minority but they make a hell of a lot of noise, and their incessant, disgusting carping takes its toll.
Remember, during the first lockdown, we had the Thursday Clap For Carers and the rainbows and all the little acts of kindness from the public, including gifts of food and good wishes.
Dr Rachel said this really helped to lift everyone’s spirits as they headed to work for another long shift covered head to toe in uncomfortable, sweaty PPE and facemasks.
So here’s an idea. Why don’t all of us who think our NHS is magnificent make a point of showering them with praise and gratitude online.
Let’s drown out the trolls and make our voices heard.
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