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April 9, 2011 12:49 AM   Subscribe

"But when Britney [Spears] got healthy, Jamie’s lawyers actually pushed for greater authority and, on October 28th of 2008, Jamie secured a permanent conservatorship. PERMANENT. HE OWNS HER FOREVER."
posted by dirigibleman (100 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Or until he dies, presumably. Presumably this is something a healthy person could contest, surely?
posted by maxwelton at 1:16 AM on April 9, 2011


Presumably, I presumably know how to not use a douchey word like "presumably" like, two times in s short graph. Presumably.
posted by maxwelton at 1:17 AM on April 9, 2011 [22 favorites]


The rest of the article is spectacularly goofy, and assumes everything, but there's little getting away from the unusual situation Britney now finds herself in. There've been other cases of this, and almost always around someone having a lot, a real lot, of money. Thanks for the link.
posted by jscott at 1:20 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can't she just, like, stop? He can't force her to do things, right?
posted by Justinian at 1:25 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't forsee a good ending for her. Very sad, she just exists to be used by everyone around her.
posted by Jubey at 1:34 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think permanent. forever might be overstating the case a little. Conservators have to account for their actions regurlarly for the conservatorship to be extended and the restricted party can seek termination (at least according to Slate)
posted by Sparx at 1:35 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If she stops I imagine he'll assert that she's lost her mind again (get a pet doctor to assert that she's a danger to herself due to depression or something) and threaten to take her kids away from her.
posted by pharm at 1:37 AM on April 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Something terrible has happened, either to me, or to the Internet. I read all of the article's comments and didn't see anything mean or stupid.

If this continues I'm going to have to actually become skilled at something to provide my sense of self-worth.
posted by nathan v at 1:38 AM on April 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


It annoys me how much I want Britney Spears to be happy. I never bought her music (though I'll happily sing along to Hit Me Baby and the like) and I never wanted to be her or have sex with her. But it's the generational thing, I guess. I was 14 when she debuted with those pink fluffy pigtails and it stuck and now I'd just like to see one pop star out there end up living a pleasant life pursuing their non-music-industry bliss, and I'd like her to be Britney. Blah. I wish I could just not care, but I've always felt that little bit of proprietary over her happiness, as though everyone my age should be able to team up and take care of her.
posted by Mizu at 1:44 AM on April 9, 2011 [61 favorites]


Wow, Mizu, I was just about the write the same thing. I was never a fan of her but it's tough to see someone having a hard time who you feel like you grew up with. I remember hearing about the conservator-ship and thinking it was a good thing that her family was looking out for her, that she was getting back to doing what she loved. It's sad and a little hard to believe that her dad can legally have that much power. I have to say though she never seemed like she was quite as "into it" when compared with Beyonce or Christina.
posted by amethysts at 1:47 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a lesson here, kids. Stay in school, and don't do drugs.
posted by crunchland at 2:03 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, it's just like that Lisbeth Salander story. What are they covering up?!?
posted by Bushmiller at 2:08 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


My lawyers are planning a push for Lindsay as you read this.
posted by doublehappy at 2:24 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of assuming going on here, so let's do a little more: Britney Spears is forced to do a job (be a pop star) in order to make money for her "conservator" (her father); if she doesn't, she'll lose her kids.

What is someone who is forced to work for another person? A slave. What is a pop star? Someone who entertains for the masses; that is -- for you.

So what is Britney Spears? Literally: a slave 4 u. (Literally.)

Ha ha. Ha ha ha. All joking aside, this is bizarre and creepy; there are, of course, bigger tragedies in the world, but surely we can agree -- something is wrong here.

(Apropos.)
posted by lewedswiver at 2:24 AM on April 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think I meant to say "as I write this" because "as you read this" could be years from now, when me and Lindsay are starring in Mean Girls 4 together.
posted by doublehappy at 2:25 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Someone needs to "go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch".

These celebrity fathers -- in between Brittany and Lindsey. Someone needs to tell those dudes what's up. "You were sperm donors and generally terrible people. You're not agents. You're not even fathers. You're manipulative bastards who deserve what is coming to you."

I predict Britney will be fine. You don't get that far in show business without intelligence. Her father has her in a perfect storm -- he controls the money so he essentially controls the future of her children.

All it's going to take is for a well-to-do man to fall in love with her -- and love her in the way her tosser father cannot -- and she sounds like she will walk away from Jamie with her kids...

...and then clear her head and sue the sh*t out of him. (Not that I am saying she needs a man to save her, but come on, she's Britney. There's a Tom Cruise for her Katie Holmes somewhere.)

Jamie Spears is really going to regret being such an a-hole. Pity so many people have to learn the hard way.
posted by nickrussell at 4:57 AM on April 9, 2011


Synopsis: legacy of a star being torn apart by a supermassive black hole, leaving a peak brightness one trillion times the sun's brightness as she met her inevitable end?
posted by ancillary at 6:03 AM on April 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Her situation is sad, because she is clearly mentally ill and has been exploited by uncaring and greedy people for years. She is used as a cash cow and a sex object, and if the cost of that is her remaining sanity and self-respect, no one seems to care. It's almost too bad she is pretty and talented -- if not, she might be living a boring life somewhere and seeing a therapist, taking her meds, and in a much better situation.

I find her music atrociously bad, and have none of the personal connection that Mizu describes. But every time I see her in the tabloids or on tv, I wince and feel like I am watching a particularly mean-spirited documentary on the exploitation of a mentally ill patient.
posted by Forktine at 6:05 AM on April 9, 2011 [16 favorites]


The bit about her being incompetent to hire her own attorney is extremely fishy. Fishy as in somewhere in Louisiana there is a judge in need of impeaching.
posted by localroger at 6:07 AM on April 9, 2011 [19 favorites]


“Despite her canned affirmations, void of any emotion, to questions about whether she still wants to be a pop artist, there’s an overt vapidity behind her eyes and in her speech that, a few years ago, came off as a lack of intelligence, but perhaps it’s more indicative of a lack of interest in this path that was chosen for her at such a young age."
Hmm, that's disappointing. I remember Britney on TV in the 90s and she always seemed boring and saccharine in interviews and stuff. Just all fake happy all the time. I liked that she'd dropped it. The idea that she got it back is kind of depressing.
It annoys me how much I want Britney Spears to be happy. I never bought her music (though I'll happily sing along to Hit Me Baby and the like) and I never wanted to be her or have sex with her. But it's the generational thing, I guess. I was 14 when she debuted with those pink fluffy pigtails and it stuck and now I'd just like to see one pop star out there end up living a pleasant life pursuing their non-music-industry bliss, and I'd like her to be Britney.
Well, the ones who do this, you don't really hear about. I mean, Cyndi Lauper comes to mind. If someone is out there with all the money they need you're just not going to hear about them. There's Christina Aguilera, who was never in the headlines until she flubbed the national anthem. Alanis Morriset was a teen pop idol in Canada before going alt.
posted by delmoi at 6:12 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd just like to see one pop star out there end up living a pleasant life pursuing their non-music-industry bliss

As delmoi said, if you want them to pursue their own lives that have nothing to do with entertaining you, you shouldn't want to "see" them. If you're seeing them, that means they're still entertaining you on some level.
posted by John Cohen at 6:33 AM on April 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I do worry about Britney; the situation she's in is completely bizarre and I don't think she's ever had much education, ever. How much schooling does Disney really give?

She's not really trying; her dancing is now just walking from one part of the stage to the other. I would be bored and dead in the eyes if I had to sing the lyrics on her new album (It's gettin bigger / The bass is gettin bigger / I can be your treble baby / You can be my bass / You can be my bass / You can be my bass).

This site has been following Britney and her Dad, but I can't always follow the site: http://fairnewsspears.com/tag/conservatorship/
posted by armacy at 6:38 AM on April 9, 2011


PERMANENT. HE OWNS HER FOREVER.

Or ... "until the next court order," as opposed to a specific time period that's set in advance.

When you see an unfamiliar legal term like this, you can't assume that any word that sounds like plain English actually has its plain-English meaning. Legal terms of art have their own specialized meanings that have to be looked up, not just assumed. It's mildly comical but also vaguely sad how quick we are to accept the legal analysis of a pop-music journalist. OR MAYBE WE'RE JUST SUCKERS FOR ALL CAPS.
posted by John Cohen at 6:44 AM on April 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Indeed. "Permanent" has a stronger meaning in hairdressing than in law.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:00 AM on April 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


You don't get that far in show business without intelligence.

I see. Is the weather nice, on the planet where you live?
posted by Diablevert at 7:05 AM on April 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


I predict Britney will be fine.

nickrussell, you had me right up until that line. And then I realized you were smoking all the good shit, and only sharing the twigs.

Kidding. But it's plain that Britney has severe behavioral (that is, emotional and mental health) issues. Those don't go away. They can be reduced. But she's not going to be "fine".

Sadly, the rest of her life is likely to make Liza Minelli's look like a church social. Ditto for the monster father that helped make and mold her.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:05 AM on April 9, 2011


Well, it is permanent and forever, until it's not. From the perspective of Britney, it is a life sentence and the parole board isn't really interested in being fair.

OTOH, the poor girl might really be nuts and incapable of managing her own affairs.

Regardless, this is NOT a situation where one person should have sole control. Supervised or not. If she needs conservatorship, it needs to be disinterested third parties in control of small parts of her life. Talent management, financial management, legal management, life management.

I was never enthralled with Britney either, but I feel particularly bad for her. I get that twinge of extra empathy I get when I see moms in line at the welfare offices, and there are always those one or two families that look an order of magnitude more needy than the rest. The ones with faces that look like they could be dust bowl refugees.

Britney is trapped, and she shouldn't be.
posted by gjc at 7:13 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


PERMANENT. HE OWNS HER FOREVER.

Or ... "until the next court order," as opposed to a specific time period that's set in advance.

When you see an unfamiliar legal term like this, you can't assume that any word that sounds like plain English actually has its plain-English meaning. Legal terms of art have their own specialized meanings that have to be looked up, not just assumed. It's mildly comical but also vaguely sad how quick we are to accept the legal analysis of a pop-music journalist. OR MAYBE WE'RE JUST SUCKERS FOR ALL CAPS.
posted by John Cohen at 6:44 AM on April 9


I was initially going to be snarky and make this same point, but the fact that Jamie has effectively prevented her from hiring her own lawyers means that it is approaching "permanent" in the regular English sense of the word.

Also, sometimes people put things in all caps when they're engaging in hyperbole.
posted by slmorri at 7:13 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, sometimes people put things in all caps when they're engaging in hyperbole.

That may be, but without an exclamation point or five, it reads as straight emphasis.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:19 AM on April 9, 2011


When you see an unfamiliar legal term like this, you can't assume that any word that sounds like plain English actually has its plain-English meaning. Legal terms of art have their own specialized meanings that have to be looked up, not just assumed. It's mildly comical but also vaguely sad how quick we are to accept the legal analysis of a pop-music journalist. OR MAYBE WE'RE JUST SUCKERS FOR ALL CAPS.

Thanks for the condescension. It means exactly what us poor schlubs think permanent means: it will continue until someone decides to change it. It does not expire. Unless there is some change in circumstance, that "next court order" will not happen.
posted by gjc at 7:22 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


and now I'd just like to see one pop star out there end up living a pleasant life pursuing their non-music-industry bliss, and I'd like her to be Britney.

Well, the ones who do this, you don't really hear about. I mean, Cyndi Lauper comes to mind.


Um... You do realize that Cyndi Lauper isn't pursuing non-music-industry bliss, right? I mean, she's been releasing albums quite regularly for decades. In fact, her eleventh album, 2010's Memphis Blues, was nominated for a Grammy for best traditional blues album.

If you haven't been hearing much about Cyndi lately, it's because you just haven't been listening.
posted by hippybear at 8:01 AM on April 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


All she really needs is to hook up with someone as rich as she is. That person will get sick of dad real quick, dispatch the lawyers and end it. Britney may not be able to do that herself, but a similarly wealthy person could handle it, and (I'm sure) would handle it.

The "then what?" is what keeps me from caring about this in anything but the abstract way where you just generally don't want people's lives to suck, because people deserve better. Britney has contributed nothing to my life whatsoever, and in fact is a spearhead (as it were) of a kind of garbage pop music that I personally think is not only without value, but actually has some kind of weird anti-value that makes unrelated things suck even more. I think she really only ever set out to make her handlers happy -- I don't blame her for her music -- but I'm not kidding myself that there's some great artistic statement she has yet to make. There isn't. I just think she shouldn't be manipulated and should be on medication that'll make her happier, probably, because she's a person and that's a positive for people, basically.

Now this story bothers me, because it involves a person who has demonstrable talent, and it's way creepier besides. Free Thora Birch!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:05 AM on April 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


I came away from reading this story thinking Britney needed to be out of her conservatorship and that someone ought to look at putting Charlie Sheen in one.
posted by immlass at 8:09 AM on April 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Shouldn't there be an independent guardian ad litem appointed in addition to the conservator?
posted by yarly at 8:14 AM on April 9, 2011


There's a lesson here, kids. Stay in school, and don't do drugs.

That's not the lesson. The lesson is 'Kids, don't ever be a meal ticket for your lazy useless wannabee fuckwit parents. If they ask you if you fancy participating in pagants or showbiz, kill them while they sleep.'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:14 AM on April 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


Her estate has been under a co-conservatorship of her father and privately retained attorney Andrew Wallet.

Eponyblahblahblah.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:18 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think the problem is her father, I think the problem is her record label. I've heard Femme Fatale was her last album on her contract; hopefully after this tour, she can take a few years off and just rest.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:22 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing is, all this time, Britney has been making some absolutely astounding music, if you have any capacity to enjoy contemporary pop at all. Starting with her first attempted comeback album, 2007's Blackout, which came out near the end of the active period of her meltdown (see the video for the spectacular Break the Ice, which features an animé Britney, as the real one was, um, unavailable at the moment of production), she's been getting all this amazing material to work with, because everybody wants to be a part of her story. Blackout was floor to ceiling megaclassic songs, even apart from the singles: Radar (can a robot have swagger??), Heaven on Earth (sweet, shimmery), Hot as Ice (stupid, sublime, and I love the way the backup singers sound just like Christina Aguilera; that's right Britney, make her know her place!), oh my god. I didn't care as much for her actual, successful comeback, Circus, but her new Femme Fatale, which just came out last month, is seriously great. I can't get over the extra-mellow, somewhat un-Britney How I Roll.

So what I'm saying is god bless Britney Spears, and I hope and hope and hope that she will be OK.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:26 AM on April 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Now this story bothers me, because it involves a person who has demonstrable talent, and it's way creepier besides. Free Thora Birch!

That's pretty depressing. I always wondered why she hadn't been a bigger star after Ghost World and American Beauty.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:28 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, I dunno.

Let's say just for the sake of argument that she is bipolar. Depending on what kind of meds she is taking, it really could make her present like that. She could simply be somewhat clinically depressed, too.

I'm not saying her dad is or is not evil, but there was a point where she DID need to be rescued, and he did it. If he hadn't stepped in when he did she might even be dead by now.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:30 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I read the article and spent the entire time thinking, Is this girl stupid, brain-damaged, or just willfully naive? Does she not have an editor? And who IS this "Britney" person she keeps talking about... Not that crazy, sad bitch who used to wear mini-skirted-schoolgirl-uniforms and then cut off all her hair? Really? She's still around?

Case #1,736,429 that Showbiz Riches Make Parents Do Hideous Things to the Progeny Sharing Their Protoplasm. Next!
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 8:31 AM on April 9, 2011


>>Her estate has been under a co-conservatorship of her father and privately retained attorney Andrew Wallet.

>Eponyblahblahblah.


Heh. He should change his name to Phil.

Oh my god! Philip Banks! How have I never noticed the pun until now?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:32 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


but her new Femme Fatale, which just came out last month, is seriously great.

Yes, it is! I love love love the video for Til the World Ends.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:33 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think the problem is her father, I think the problem is her record label.

The record label don't have control over her assets or her decision-making process. What's more, if she's genuinely sick enough to warrant a conservator, it's hard to imagine the courts would force her to tour and record.

Not saying father and record company aren't in cahoots though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:35 AM on April 9, 2011


Where is Chris Crocker now, when we need him?
posted by Naberius at 8:46 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder about Britney. I do think that she was pushed into performing at a *very* young age and probably doesn't feel very confident doing anything else, and obviously it's made her extremely wealthy.

But look at Jamie Lynn. She moved back to Louisiana, had her daughter, and keeps a very low profile. Britney has an example in her sister. I'll grant you that Jamie Lynn was never as famous as Britney, but why does Britney continue to live in the paparazzi capital of the world? She has enough money to move to Patagonia if she wants to. This was the fact pre-conservatorship. Now that her dad has legal control, she may not be able to move out of L.A., but she certainly could have before her breakdown. I think that she has mental illness, but I also think that she likes fame. If she really wanted to live in Louisiana and run a dance studio, she could have done that.

Then again, I am speaking as a person who detests L.A. and can't imagine living there unless I was too broke to get out, so it baffles me that she stays in that city anyway, much less with photographers following her everywhere. I think she must like it (both the city and the attention).
posted by Leta at 8:48 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


She shares custody of her sons with her ex-husband; that could be keeping her in LA.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:50 AM on April 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Uck, this kind of parasitic behavior is waaay too common if you dig into the lives of successful creatives: "Managers", minders, handlers, all trying to get tem to sign away powers of attorney and suggest you be hospitalized if you don't, and who ends up with all the rights after?


Ugh. People need to be warned about this kinda shit.
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 AM on April 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


All it's going to take is for a well-to-do man to fall in love with her -- and love her in the way her tosser father cannot -- and she sounds like she will walk away from Jamie with her kids...

This right here is what creeps me out about the whole story -- and the reason I think the whole story doesn't disturb us more. Britney Spears has always been cast in these creepy-archetypal roles: virginal sexpot, crazy lady extraordinaire; now she's the princess in the tower, and we, the audience, complacently await her eventual rescue by a prince.

If she were a male pop star, would this whole situation seem slightly more shocking and alarming to us? Would it present itself more clearly as what it in fact is -- the legal denial of a person's autonomy, of his basic rights?

On a different tack: If she weren't a mother, would we find it more disturbing? "Must protect the children, you know." Mothers are held to a different standard -- we as a society feel very comfortable intervening to discipline a woman's behavior when we feel her children might be in danger. (But when it comes to dads... well, what do you think the reaction would be if Martin Sheen attempted to get a conservatorship over Charlie Sheen? What a shame it would be to have that source of entertainment cut off from us! Besides, he's a grown man -- can't he make his own bad decisions, and suffer the consequences for them?)

In short: I find this whole thing profoundly disturbing, and indicative in subtle ways of the pervasive and nearly inarticulable ways in which sexism structures our views of women and women's legal rights.
posted by artemisia at 9:03 AM on April 9, 2011 [86 favorites]


Uck, this kind of parasitic behavior is waaay too common if you dig into the lives of successful creatives: "Managers", minders, handlers, all trying to get tem to sign away powers of attorney and suggest you be hospitalized if you don't, and who ends up with all the rights after?

Was listening to Justin Timberlake's Fresh Air interview a little while back, and when Terri Gross asked him how he managed to escape teen stardom unscathed and go on to a successful career, he credited his upbringing and the sane and well-meaning people around him.

At the time I thought it was interview boilerplate, but reading stuff like this, I think maybe it's the only real answer.
posted by eugenen at 9:08 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shouldn't there be an independent guardian ad litem appointed in addition to the conservator?

That was my thought as well. Thing is, in my experience (which is not California-specific experience) that doesn't happen automatically. Either a party to the case needs to successfully petition to have one appointed, or the judge needs to do it on his/her own motion. If the judge is as cruddy as we're lead to believe, I can see how this didn't happen.

What I don't understand (which may owe to my not having done this stuff in a while, and never having done it in California) is why, when the judge refused to allow her to hire her own attorney, the attorney didn't petition to be made guardian ad litem (or to have someone else so-appointed) and then fight like a motherf#$ker for it.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:11 AM on April 9, 2011


If only the outrage over a rehabilitated 29-year-old woman (who went nuts for a few years but had been way too sexy before that so clearly she required containment) becoming the personal and financial property of a man she never even liked was half as loud as the chorus that once proclaimed her sexual ‘antics’ as degrading to women.

Well put. I've never cared at all about Britney Spears, other than feeling vaguely sorry for her over the past few years, but this was a really interesting post.
posted by brundlefly at 9:18 AM on April 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


When you see an unfamiliar legal term like this, you can't assume that any word that sounds like plain English actually has its plain-English meaning. Legal terms of art have their own specialized meanings that have to be looked up, not just assumed. It's mildly comical but also vaguely sad how quick we are to accept the legal analysis of a pop-music journalist. OR MAYBE WE'RE JUST SUCKERS FOR ALL CAPS.

Because REAL LEGAL DOCUMENTS never use ALL CAPS.
posted by straight at 9:33 AM on April 9, 2011


Because REAL LEGAL DOCUMENTS never use ALL CAPS.

Would that were true.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:37 AM on April 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I do question why there is no apparent guardian ad litem, but I think this story is overblown. Permanent conservatorship does not mean "forever", it just means that the conservatorship has been granted and a hearing must take place to end it, either at the behest of the ward, the conservator, or the court. (In a temporary guardianship it will end unless there is a successful petition to continue.) The burden of proof, I believe, is switched, but otherwise it is basically saying things continue until otherwise changed.

The conservatorship is not unsupervised. Jamie Spears and an attorney for her estate (and/or trust as sometimes described) appear before the conservatorship commissioner regularly to talk about how well it's going, and Spears herself is interviewed by the commissioner without her father present. Apparently she does have the legal right to file a petition to end the conservatorship. Most recently this was last September.

So she has a really bored or disconnected affect. I don't know what that diagnoses, other than her hating public appearances ("work"). That happens, believe it or not, to a lot of people in fame situations even if they sought it all out as adults.

While I myself am uncomfortable with some of her situation, it does seem that she is adequately supervised and not subjected to abusive levels of control that would concern the court.
posted by dhartung at 9:38 AM on April 9, 2011


dhartung, I'm not sure I trust the court to actually protect her at all. I'd put good money on the scenario someone floated upthread -- if she tries to quit, her dad will have her institutionalized again. And the court won't bat an eye.
posted by palomar at 9:53 AM on April 9, 2011


It all sounds bad, but it occurred to me that if she'd quit three years ago and nobody had heard from her since, somebody'd be writing a sinister narrative about that, too.
posted by anazgnos at 10:01 AM on April 9, 2011


Although there is a lot of interest in this case as a 'celebrirty' story, it's quite interesting from the perspective of the rights of mentally ill people in general.

It is very rare for a conservatorship to be granted like this - in fact they're almost always used for people who are in a vegetative state, have severe learning disabilities, dementia, etc. They're used to allow somebody to provide for the basic needs of a person who is incapable of doing it for themselves - food, clothing, shelter, medical care. There are also conservatorships

I find the arguments that Spears requires a guardian because she is seriously mentally unwell somewhat strange. She clearly *was* mentally ill at in 2007/2008, and definitely needed treatment. But it is interesting to consider the length of time that she spent in hospital. She spent 2 days in the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in January 2008 and then at UCLA Medical Center from 31st January to 7th February 2008. In other words, she spent a total of 10 days in hospital! Also note that that first time she was initially committed for a 72 hour hold then released early. The second time she was initially committed for 72 hours which was extended for 14 days, but then released after 8 days. In both cases the hospital determined that it could not hold her for longer because she did not present a danger to herself or others.

Does this really present an image of somebody who has severe and lifelong mental health problems?

I spent part of my life in and out of psychiatric hospitals and consequently I met a lot of mentally ill people (often at their lowest point). For example, I remember quite clearly a woman in the middle of a psychotic episode who was so out of touch with reality that she did not understand what was happening when her menstrual blood came. The staff could not get her to understand that she was not dying, and she screamed for hours. I had a friend there who was bipolar, and in the middle of a manic episode had threatened her daughter with a knife (causing her daughter to jump out of the window of the house to escape). Some people were just dragged in by the police incoherent and screaming while others just made accusations that others were a 'spy from the army' or stealing from them.

What I'm saying is that whatever Spears has done, whatever form her mental illness has taken (and we can only speculate), it's not exceptional - these kind of things happen all the time. We have a system in place to deal with them, allowing mandatory treatment in hospital. In fact, of all the people that I knew in hospital, with time and medical care almost all eventually got better and left the ward in a lucid state. Most importantly, I have never known anybody who needed to have their rights as an adult stripped from them when they left the hospital - not even the people who had already been held in hospital for years.

So how does the conservatorship in Spears' case fit into this? Why does she need to be dealt with under powers designed for severely mentally handicapped people rather than through the normal system of compulsory treatment in hospital?

I can imagine two scenarios, and neither is pretty. Perhaps she is really mentally impaired to the point where she is liable to wander off wide-eyed into the snow and die of hypothermia, or give her life savings to somebody she met in a bar. Perhaps she is in the middle of a perpetual psychotic episode, completely divorced from reality. In that case a conservatorship would definitely be warranted. However, if she is in such a state I find it rather strange that her estate have arranged a tour and publicity engagements rather than finding her somewhere nice and quiet to recuperate.

On the other hand, perhaps she is not currently thus mentally impaired, and she has had a law that is not really designed to deal with people in this situation used against her. That's a horrible thing to contemplate.

I think that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle (although clearly all we can do is speculate). She clearly had mental health issues in 2007/2008 and needed to be forced into treatment, and she could well still be having problems on some level. However, the very brief duration of her hospitalisation and the fact that she has not been back for at least 2 years suggests that she is not seriously mentall ill at this point. What I think is much more likely is that she is very immature - that due to her childhood success she has never learned to look after herself, has never learned to handle money. Perhaps the allegations that she sent explicit pictures to a bodyguard or has acted out in other ways are true, who knows? There were reports recently that Spears now has a tutor to help her learn to balance a budget and manage her time. It seems that the judge who keeps renewing the conservatorship (and it is the same judge each time) is willing to view this on the same level as somebody with learning difficulties or dementia.

But even if she cannot manage her own time, or is disposed to making ill-advised business decisions, is this really a reason for keeping her with the legal status of a child? Does she really need her father telling her what she can eat, what to wear, who she can or cannot see, if she can drive her own car? If the law is being interpreted in this way, I think that it sets a very unhelpful precedent for all people who have suffered from mental illness.
posted by kitty vacant at 10:04 AM on April 9, 2011 [30 favorites]


There's a lesson here, kids. Stay in school, and don't do drugs.

That's not the lesson. The lesson is 'Kids, don't ever be a meal ticket for your lazy useless wannabee fuckwit parents. If they ask you if you fancy participating in pagants or showbiz, kill them while they sleep.'
posted by PeterMcDermott


Yeah, the issue ain't the drugs or the schoolin' so much as the showbiz and the parenting. But, of course, there's a part of us that wants all train wrecks to be attributable to outside influences that suggest a fundamental flaw in the world, rather than a reality that revolves around conscious choices made for slimy, self-indulgent reasons. Myself, I did my fair share of drugs and dropping out in my younger years (and dropping back in for what it's worth) and, thus far, have yet to end up either institutionalized or under a medication regime that isn't my own choosing.

Now, put the spotlight of billions on me while I'm fucking up, wasting my youth (as the young are sort of supposed to do) and I'm sure I'd be as fucked up as any ex-child star.

Fame is Toxic. Why would we wish it on anyone?
posted by philip-random at 10:21 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fame is Toxic

I see what you did there.
posted by hippybear at 10:28 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


...and how fucking dare anyone out there make fun of Britney after all she's been through. Leave Britney alone.
posted by markkraft at 11:23 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


(ToT)
posted by markkraft at 11:25 AM on April 9, 2011


She probably seems vacant because she's on some kind of psychotropic medication.

After that business with Adnan Ghalib and Sam Lufti, it was pretty clear that she's messed up enough to seek out some kind of male influence. I don't know why her mom's not around, and we don't know the reasons for why Kevin Federline got custody of her children, but I don't think Jamie Spears is Howard Stern to her Anna Nicole. She's alive, she looks healthy, she's working and interacting with people, she's taking her medication, and she's not walking barefoot into gas station bathrooms, there aren't sex tapes of her on the internet, she'd not shaving her hair off, she's stopped sucking down cheetos and those Frappaccino calorie boms. If her parents had not intervened, she'd have signed over power of attorney to Sam Lufti. She'd be having sex in hotel pools with random guys. She'd be worse off than Lindsay Lohan, who, by comparison, has been smart enough not to get pregnant but is still unwell.

Britney Spears was trained to seek out male attention and approval, and if it wasn't court appointed then she'd have a cast of people who aren't her family who would have no problem draining her of money in a month, drugging her and throwing her body down a sewer.

I can see how sad it is that she's performing like a monkey, but I also don't think bagging groceries at the supermarket is realistic or going to school or doing anything other than what she's been trained to do. And that she can do her "job" is a sign that things are okay, even if her job is not really respectable.
posted by anniecat at 11:41 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


*bombs. Calorie bombs.
posted by anniecat at 11:42 AM on April 9, 2011


She's always been vacant. Watch any old candid clip of her. She's absolutely NOT AT ALL intelligent. She's uneducated, but she's also dim. Her success rests on the fact that she was in the right place at the right time and was a blonde teenager with a slamming body who was so vacant that you could project anything you wanted onto her. That's the tragedy of Britney: she is honestly too dumb, I think, to have as much pressure on her as she does and then find a way out of it. Add in the supposed mental illness, and there's really zero chance this woman will be fine. She can't really do her job at all. Watch a recent "performance" and tell me she's performing.
posted by pineappleheart at 12:28 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I need to know more about this engaging creature!!!
posted by Senator at 12:54 PM on April 9, 2011


anniecat, I'd love to borrow that crystal ball that lets you see how depraved Britney Spears would be now, based on a short period of questionable behavior.
posted by palomar at 1:29 PM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am on medication for bipolar II - a pretty heavy whack of SSRIs - and I have days where I struggle with reading comprehension and struggle to get a sentence to come out right - I mix up my pronouns for one. It's not unusual for someone on meds to appear a bit dim.

However, the whole story reminds me of the footballers that went off the rails - kids that got signed at 15, 16 by academies, made first team on £100k a week by the end of their teens, and became enormously wealthy without the education and life experience to deal with. Some come out of it fine, and become pundits, or use their position to help communities like Beckham or Rio Ferdinand, but then you get a Gazza, or a George Best even - people who don't know how to deal with what they're in and self-destruct. She's been Miss American Dream since she was 17, no matter if she stays on the scene or sneaks away to the Philippines...

(And, yeah, why is Scarlett a big star and Thora is not? God, I have such a soft spot for Ghost World.)
posted by mippy at 1:48 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


she's stopped sucking down cheetos and those Frappaccino calorie boms

I don't think anything you've said qualifies a person to be stripped of their legal autonomy. Particularly not this. I personally like those dumb frappucino things, and as empty of real nutritive value they may be, drinking them doesn't qualify me as mentally incompetent or needing a conservator to manage my life. (Don't be getting any ideas here...)
posted by krinklyfig at 1:59 PM on April 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


If her parents had not intervened, she'd have signed over power of attorney to Sam Lufti. She'd be having sex in hotel pools with random guys. She'd be worse off than Lindsay Lohan, who, by comparison, has been smart enough not to get pregnant but is still unwell.

I fully agree that an intervention was necessary at that point. What I find deeply questionable is the legal manner in which the intervention was made. Rather than losing her autonomy, being bound to her parents and sent off on a 'comeback' tour it would probably have been better for her to spend a long time in hospital or rehab, at the end of which she could slowly be helped to take control of her own life again. Even 3 years later it doesn't seem like her family are giving her much control over her life at all - how is she supposed to learn to cope and move on?
posted by kitty vacant at 2:36 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Presumably, I presumably know how to not use a douchey word like "presumably" like, two times in a short graph. Presumably.

The quick brown faux jumps over the lazy pas.
posted by y2karl at 2:36 PM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


also, doesn't "messed up enough to seek some kind of male influence" very loosely describe hundreds of thousands of women? seeking male influence isn't grounds for removing someone's autonomy, for god's sake. can you even define "seeking male influence"? or is it like the supreme court definition of obscenity?
posted by palomar at 3:30 PM on April 9, 2011


I prefer to think of the Britney Spears story as the "Paul is Dead" for our time. Once upon a time, there was a real person named "Britney Spears." This person was born in a simple cabin -- let's call it a manger -- deep in the swampy woods of Louisiana. Somewhere there is probably a certificate of live birth proving this, but that may not be good enough for Donald Trump.

But that Britney Spears is no longer with us. Where she went and how it happened is another story. Sometime between when the original, live Britney Spears made pedophilic urges acceptable to suburban music enthusiasts, and when Britney resurfaced after regrowing her shorn locks, Britney Spears the individual human being was replaced by "Britney Spears", the collective.

Today, Britney Spears is a plural noun, much like "viruses" and "pants." The collective -- or cabal, really (ask Alex Jones for the whole story) -- operates in a secret underground bunker, probably the kind carved into the side of a mountain, but possibly the kind buried beneath an unassuming house.

Listening to a "Britney 2.0"-era track like Toxic, or Womanizer, or Radar, two things are clear: One, the production and composition is, empirically speaking, the bomb. The collective pulling these strings of electrons are the best there is. Two, there is no sign of human life to be found.

The collective Britney Spears creates a simalucrum of the former human Britney Spears using vocal snippets of archived clips connected together much like the voice at the phone company support line who reads your credit card number back to you.

Visual depictions of Britney Spears the individual are, of course, CGI, using the same technology behind Avatar and South Park.

The best part of all is that the collective Britney Spears will be with us forever, immortal and uncontained by space or time.
posted by thebordella at 4:09 PM on April 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


She looks pretty happy in this video, being launched into the sky in a portapotty, and sprayed with shit on the way down.
posted by dave78981 at 4:53 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Chaos part of my soul is relishing, relishing, the attention Brit is getting right now for a very strange reason.

We'll all pay attention when someone famous that we know is being manipulated or controlled. But every other day when human trafficking, slavery, and prostitution are happening under our very noses? Not a thing, not a lick of mental capacity tuned in.

Sucks for her but I can't quite muster the sympathy given all the other depressing BS I keep myself aware and thinking about.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:29 PM on April 9, 2011


She looks pretty happy in this video , being launched into the sky in a portapotty, and sprayed with shit on the way down.

furthermore, after her crappy experience, she has the presence of mind to know that the WORST thing she can do to those who egged her on to do this is to try to hug them

she's not THAT dumb
posted by pyramid termite at 5:35 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


We'll all pay attention when someone famous that we know is being manipulated or controlled. But every other day when human trafficking, slavery, and prostitution are happening under our very noses? Not a thing, not a lick of mental capacity tuned in.

Sucks for her but I can't quite muster the sympathy given all the other depressing BS I keep myself aware and thinking about.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:29 PM on 4/9


Speak for yourself. Compassion is not a zero-sum game.
posted by kagredon at 5:37 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It makes me sad when something bad is happening to someone famous, and the response is, "Sucks to be them," or "They deserve it, I think they are horrible anyway," in all their various flavors. From the judgmental "she's a skank who'd be doing all sorts of depraved acts if not for her daddy's rescue" to the shaming, "I'm going to refuse to care about this issue specifically because the victim is famous, there so many worse things in the world to think about", they're all here in this thread.

Compassion is not a zero-sum game, indeed.

(As for the "what about all the unfamous people who have bad things happen to them?" argument -- sometimes when people hear stories about bad things happening to the famous people they admire, be it Britney Spears or Gabrielle Giffords, it makes them think about how they can prevent that bad thing from happening to other people. Isn't that a good thing?)
posted by palomar at 5:43 PM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


(dear baby jesus, please send an edit window so i can go back and edit that last comment to be more coherent. sigh.)
posted by palomar at 5:45 PM on April 9, 2011


I never said she deserved it. Its simply hilarious (to me) that we can all care about deprivation of free will right now for one person and be supremely pissed off about it yet not get worked up on a very regular basis about the millions of people suffering similar fates, with quite a few of those being in the US.

How many people watching the news are going to think, "My God, someone should do something about that!"? How many of those same people would, when presented with international human trafficking, tut quietly and feel like it was just too insurmountable a problem to bother too much with?

To me, this is reminiscent of post a while back, wherein people who murder/assault only one person get a fairly tough sentence whereas someone who goes on a rampage gets less time or even a 'weaker' charge.

Its the dark cockles of my heart that are tickled by this. All the other parts of horrified.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:05 PM on April 9, 2011


are horrified. Damnable grammar, you win again.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:05 PM on April 9, 2011


Nobody's mentioned the brilliant South Park episode about Brittney? It's a riff on Wicker Man. People raise a young starlet to be desired and them destroyed in order to assure healthy crops. When Brittney dies they fixate on someone else. It made too much sense.
There's also a James Tiptrre story about this. An ugly girl remotely controls a gorgeous pop star.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:09 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to say, that South Park episode was one of the real high points of the series. Brilliant social commentary throughout. I don't watch the show very often, but I was glad to have seen that episode.
posted by hippybear at 6:20 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


a song about Britney
posted by philip-random at 6:32 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


How many people watching the news are going to think, "My God, someone should do something about that!"? How many of those same people would, when presented with international human trafficking, tut quietly and feel like it was just too insurmountable a problem to bother too much with?

Are those responses different in some way?
posted by hattifattener at 6:44 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Its simply hilarious (to me) that we can all care about deprivation of free will right now for one person and be supremely pissed off about it yet not get worked up on a very regular basis about the millions of people suffering similar fates, with quite a few of those being in the US.

It's kind of crappy to assume that no one posting here also contributes their time and money to helping those millions of people you mentioned.
posted by palomar at 7:01 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should not have just lumped everyone (mefites and public at large) into one boat. There are a few people that post here (and everywhere else on the web) who are showing compassion while taking actions deserving of recognition.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:21 PM on April 9, 2011


Are you one of them? 'Cause that's an awfully high horse you've got there, Sackermagee.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:02 PM on April 9, 2011


I have briefly in the past. Now I live at (I think? Might have been revised downwards) the poverty line as a grad student. Nothing I can really do besides throw spare change sparingly (harhar) at causes. And make noises about how the problem really isn't being addressed.

Wait... high horse? I'm sitting pretty above people by laughing at the responses that arise when a celebrity encounters what is suffered through by the faceless millions on a daily basis? I think I've said a number of times here, this is not a nice feeling I have right now. It is not a kind feeling. One part crazed meta-humor, one part frustration, disdain and malice to taste. This is the low-rider horse.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:31 PM on April 9, 2011


Part of me thinks Britney is this generation's Frances Farmer. I sincerely hope not.

A few years ago when she was quite clearly at the end of her rope, I could kind of get what she was doing. It was almost like she'd reached the point of no return - why stop now? I hated how every media and gossip outlet had such a heyday with that. There is nothing funny about mental illness. It was cry for help after cry for help, and it was all served up for our gawking. Pathetic.

I really hope she makes her way someday, whatever that might mean to her. Nobody ought to live in a cage like that.
posted by contessa at 8:31 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never said she deserved it. Its simply hilarious (to me) that we can all care about deprivation of free will right now for one person and be supremely pissed off about it yet not get worked up on a very regular basis about the millions of people suffering similar fates, with quite a few of those being in the US.

Isn't this the website where we collectively stopped the potential human trafficking of a couple Russian students last summer?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:14 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you haven't been hearing much about Cyndi lately, it's because you just haven't been listening.

That, or Lauper didn't get permanently stuck chasing mega-fame instead of working for a living as a musician. Cyndi Lauper's just fine in a way I doubt Britney ever could be, because Cyndi had to built skills coming up on her own that Britney's never had to.
posted by lodurr at 8:29 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It frustrates me that it's possible for a manipulative asshole to control the life of an adult who's probably at least as mentally competent as he is. But when there's this much money and that much of an exploitable resource (i.e., Britney's future earnings) involved, 'advisors' are probably oozing out of the woodwork to help her out on a daily basis. As soon as one of them puts together a legal attack that outflanks Jamie Spears's lawyers, Britney will move to a newer, more spacious cage.
posted by lodurr at 8:33 AM on April 10, 2011


I think I've said a number of times here, this is not a nice feeling I have right now. It is not a kind feeling. One part crazed meta-humor, one part frustration, disdain and malice to taste. This is the low-rider horse.

Again, we get to the toxicity of fame. It's not good for us (either the adorer or the adored). It speaks to something f***ed up at the heart of our culture, every culture really, because there always seems to be someone absorbing more of the spotlight than is good for them.

I was old enough when Britney first hit (turned 40 in 1999, which is when I first really became aware of her) to have every inclination to believe that "this will not end well for her". It just stood to reason. Here was this stunningly beautiful young girl flaunting pretty much everything she had for billions to see (an underage porn star, basically, less the full frontals and the cumshots; hell, she even did a Lesbian thing with Madonna) ... and for what, other than way more money than she or her family could ever possibly need?

So yeah, like any good proto-hipster, I was way ahead of the curve. I felt for sorry for her then, man. Now, I'm onto the next thing which is probably either the Beiber kid, or whatzizname that Ellen discovered, or maybe that little girl from Manitoba that Lady Gaga and Stephen Harper are both trying to get a piece of.
posted by philip-random at 11:35 AM on April 10, 2011


I was working at the Bill Graham Auditorium in 'Frisco the Sunday morning Britney taped her GMA performance. It was 1 song, 15 minutes of set dressing & costume changes while drag queens entertained the crowd, iterate. Hardly anyone left the main hall to come buy sodas or snacks. No one wanted to lose their place to see Brit.

Yeah, the vocals were more processed than cheap luncheon meat and she was phoning it in while lip synching, but that's just modern pop.

What surprised us was when one of the other backstage crews mentioned in passing that one of their guys got sent home for looking at Britney backstage. Evidently the word was put out - if you're working backstage, do not look at Britney or you will be sent home.

We weren't exactly sure how much of our legs he was pulling. This wasn't a show where the concessionaires were back in the artist area, so it didn't directly affect us.

Then I read what Carson Daly had to say:
Recently Carson Daly canceled his scheduled interview with Spears because he resented the constraints set up by her management — they wanted the interview pre-recorded & submitted for approval, for starters. “Interviews are never that restricted,” Daly said on twitter. ”I’ve known and supported her since she was 15. I’m just shocked her management won’t let her do a normal interview.

“Even when I interviewed Michael Jackson, it wasn’t anything like this.”
I wonder to what degree Britney has become comfortably numb.

I think Craig Ferguson's analysis still holds up.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:06 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


In my dream, Winona Ryder talks Drew Barrymore into saving her, and with a little help from Sigourney Weaver, they whisk her away to live in New Mexico on the ranch formerly owned by Georgia O'Keefe.
posted by salvia at 1:06 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, I forgot to crack this one days ago.

El loco parentis.
posted by GuyZero at 5:15 PM on April 12, 2011


I was talking with my bike mechanic the other day about Brit, her status as money-generating pawn, and he said his dad was an entertainment attorney. He asked recently, "Dad, when R. Kelley does stuff that would get normal people thrown in jail, why doesn't he go to jail?"

The answer was approximately "Well son, when you get to be that big and at the center of that much money, you're an entertainment corporation. The normal laws don't apply to you anymore, corporate ones do. And the corporations wrote those laws to their own benefit.

"There are BOO-COO people, in layers upon layers, who derive their income from him being able to perform. And the one thing corporations are good at is getting around efforts by ANYONE to fuck with their revenue stream. And the lawyers go to work..."

Britney seems to be basically in the same position. Nothing will be allowed to fuck with her ability to generate revenue. Not even her own desire to hire her wishes.

Anyone in entertainment law able to shed a little more light?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 5:16 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was supposed to be either "Her own wishes" or "Her own desire to hire her own lawyers". Or something coherent.

</massive grammar fail>

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:25 PM on April 13, 2011


In my dream, Winona Ryder talks Drew Barrymore into saving her, and with a little help from Sigourney Weaver, they whisk her away to live in New Mexico on the ranch formerly owned by Georgia O'Keefe.

I believe Robert Altman made a movie about this -- it was called Three Women.
posted by y2karl at 8:12 AM on April 17, 2011


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