Britney Spears sang 21 years ago: “Lost in an image, in a dream, but there is no one there to wake her up. The world keeps turning and she keeps winning, but watch out, what will happen when it stops? ” The most disturbing thing about the 13-year legal and televised kidnapping of the world’s most famous pop star is not that it took place while we all watched, but that she premonitory sang about it. Spears didn’t write that song, slyly titled Lucky (“Lucky”). He hardly wrote any of his most memorable hits, but his life was so public, his figure so iconic and his story so moldable that they composed him commercial author pop, they wrote him his life in verse. When critics early in her career called Britney a manufactured product, they couldn’t imagine how right they were. She not only lent her distorted voice as one more element of the complex composition of her songs to open the way to the overproduced pop that today reigns on the radio; he also lent his body, his image, his soul, his entire existence. It was all part of a show directed from the shadows, according to her, by some members of her family led by her father, Jamie Spears, already one of the great villains in pop history.
The events are already known, but let’s summarize to gain perspective: after achieving a planetary success that made her famous and a multimillionaire but deprived her of having a childhood and adolescence, a 20-year-old Britney (and now a mother of two children) lets go of her hair, takes a break and lends itself to the night party. Nothing that no one else did, just that she did it while the whole world watched. It all ended with a hospitalization due to mental problems in 2008, the true nature of which has never been revealed. It was easy to conclude, in a prejudiced way, that the revelry and abuse had led her there, although the drug and alcohol tests she underwent in that first admission gave a negative result. Only today, when talking openly and seriously about mental health issues, one wonders if it was not the response of a person who made his debut on stage at age five, at 11 was presenting the television program The Mickey Mouse Club and at 16 she became a famous singer all over the world. A person who, born in a moralistic and religious environment, was sold as a virginal young woman and full of virtue who, at the same time, had to teach all the meat that was necessary to attract glances. Ridiculed as a virgin and vilified as a whore, Britney was barely 20 when the media was fattening her.
All of this led to the most talked-about personal crisis of 2007. The whole world thought Britney was going to die. We call her crazy. Some infamous websites invited to bet on the date of his death. You could win a PlayStation 3. When Britney was admitted to a mental hospital in January 2008, her father Jamie took charge of her finances and her life through a guardianship that controlled every aspect of her existence. She returned to the stage that same year, with a new and successful album. We all thought that this was the happy ending we expected, but something was wrong. That wasn’t Britney. The one who had been a virtuous dancer who performed the most complex choreographies without disheveled moved, suddenly, with robotic reluctance, showed the saddest eyes in the world and in her interviews, guarded in an almost military manner, seemed sadly to agree with the that they had branded her as a blonde without many lights. Britney, whom we had known cheerful, polite but often sour, with a fresh and seductive southern girl sense of humor, was no longer there.
Between 2008 and 2019, supposedly incapacitated and insane as evidenced by the court documents justifying the guardianship, she recorded four albums, undertook four world tours and 248 shows in Las Vegas. Although its brilliance was no longer there, Britney resurrects the old man “does not sing, does not dance, but do not miss it.” In January 2019 the bubble explodes: when Britney cancels her imminent new Las Vegas show and is re-admitted to a psychiatric hospital, voices begin to rise in favor of the artist. Various documentaries, legal paperwork leaked to the press, statements from friends and dancers and a strange Instagram account in which the artist seems to want to ask for help without asking for it directly (because she cannot) do the rest. After months of fighting in the courts and years of activism from her followers, Britney is released.
The details that became known later were from a Kafkaesque nightmare: a supposedly dream life in a large mansion but without basic freedoms (she was not allowed to drive and they would not let her remove the IUD to get pregnant, as she wished), with her conversations monitored and without access to your own money. Britney has told a lot on her Instagram once free. His account, which at first was pure marketing naïve and became authentic David Lynch in 2020, is today a confessional vortex where he is happy to be free, but also settles accounts with those who played it in the past: his father, her sister, artists who (according to her) did not support her and journalists who asked her cruel questions. The most moving and terrifying thing happened when he showed his enormous joy at having been able to buy … an iPad. Britney, with an estimated fortune of 52 million dollars (about 46 million euros), was only able to buy something freely at 39. She has just turned 40. She claims that she does not want to return to the world of music. How not to understand it. Also that she is getting married to her boyfriend, Sam Asghari. That perhaps he will tell about everything his family has done to him in a televised interview, as Meghan Markle and Enrique did with Oprah Winfrey.
Those who started this movement to free a 21st century slave were, paradoxically, those same children she was supposed to corrupt by showing her belly button in her video clips. When they grew up, they raised their voices against an injustice and set the artist free. “The dream of reason produces monsters!” We exclaimed when we saw that young woman dance seductively who claimed to be a virgin. He produced them, yes, but it was us.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.