“The business of being Britney Spears is booming.”
May 4, 2016 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Is Britney Spears Ready To Stand On Her Own? by Serge F. Kovaleski and Joe Coscarelli [The New York Times] For years, the life of one of the world’s most successful pop stars has been controlled by a court-approved conservatorship, designed for people who cannot take care of themselves.
There has been some debate in California over whether court-appointed lawyers do enough to advocate the rights of those under conservatorship. Just last year, the state’s Senate Committee on Judiciary noted in a report: “In theory the court-appointed counsel should be arguing on the proposed conservatee’s behalf for a less-restrictive alternative to conservatorship whenever possible.”

Mr. Ingham has been awarded more than $2 million in fees for his work on Ms. Spears’s behalf since 2008. This is in addition to the $6.9 million paid from the estate to the conservators and other lawyers who have helped manage Ms. Spears’s affairs under the current arrangement. Ms. Spears has never publicly questioned any of these payments, but critics of the process have.

“As long as she is bringing in so much money and as long as the lawyers and conservators are getting paid, there is little incentive to end it,” said Elaine Renoire, president of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, an advocacy group. “Usually, the conservatorship just keeps going unless the conservatee makes a fuss or the family does.”
posted by Fizz (23 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
They've made nine million dollars off this?

jfc. I've felt sorry for Spears for a long time but wow, this is a whole other level of parasitism.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:39 PM on May 4, 2016 [23 favorites]


The single largest failure of Jerry Brown's second time around is not putting people in jail over this intolerable bullshit. It's her goddamn right to hook up with guys her daddy doesn't like, have kids and raise a family without having to tread the stage one more time, no matter how much money that leaves on the table.

It's absolutely slavery, and those involved in profiting from the whole, sorry mess besides Spears and her kids need some time in solitary to consider their life choices.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:47 PM on May 4, 2016 [35 favorites]


How can someone who goes on tour and is allowed to raise children be deemed incompetent to speak on their own behalf? This poor woman. What have we let happen?
posted by samthemander at 8:54 PM on May 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


She's bipolar and she lost custody of her children, was arrested more than once, nearly died in several car chases with the paparazzi, took her own kid hostage and SWAT had to come get him back and her ability to contact anyone was being controlled by her new "manager", some guy she met at a gas station or something who was putting prescription pills in her milkshakes. Plus she was parting with Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan every night. I think her family did a stellar fucking job of rescuing her from that situation. It ain't easy to help a poor mentally ill person, never mind one who can buy a private island.

I'm guessing the continued conservatorship and the custody thing are related. And she isn't touring, she has a show in Vegas for which she is paid a cool half million per night. She works out, raises her kids, goes to a steady job, had a couple long term relationships and she doesn't constantly look terrified anymore. Plus she's still rich and well loved. I think whoever is looking after her is earning their money.
posted by fshgrl at 9:53 PM on May 4, 2016 [37 favorites]


I wonder what Chris Crocker would say.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:02 PM on May 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Being mentally ill and being taken advantage of by a manipulative parent aren't mutually exclusive. She and her sister were both groomed for stardom from a young age, and that took a toll on both of them. I'd feel better about the conservatorship if it was truly impartial, and not held by her father.
posted by Ruki at 10:19 PM on May 4, 2016 [24 favorites]


either she's so sick that she needs constant controlling care or she's well enough to be involved in half a million per night deals. i don't understand a situation where both are true and ethical.

i also think it's telling that no one is clamoring to put justin bieber, chris brown, or aaron carter under conservatorship.
posted by nadawi at 10:22 PM on May 4, 2016 [76 favorites]


I've always felt very sorry for Britney and thought that's she's a modern day slave of her father and management's making.
posted by Jubey at 10:51 PM on May 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh I'm squicked out by the child star machine too but at least this person's family stepped up and got it together for her when she needed them.
posted by fshgrl at 12:01 AM on May 5, 2016


Well, to be honest, there are a lot of reports that she was using coke AND meth, and I remember reading something (not to get all tabloid) about how the hair shaving incident was related to her being threatened with a hair sample drug test related to the custody of her kids.

Now, I've dealt with meth, and it is a fucking hard thing to get away from. And yeah, I believe that it was right that people step in and help her get her life in order, if that is the sort of thing she was dealing with.

I guess the question is, after all these years, is she under control of herself, or is she going to be lured by the siren song of her old favorite drug(s)? She seems to be entirely functional now. I am entirely functional now. But I still hear the call. I just know better than to listen to it. I would hope Britney has learned those lessons, too. If she has, she should be allowed to control her own life again.
posted by hippybear at 1:45 AM on May 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


I can sort of accept the idea that she needed help and someone else to handle her finances.

Appointing her abusive father to do this seems a very very poor decision.
posted by Erberus at 4:15 AM on May 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm guessing the continued conservatorship and the custody thing are related. And she isn't touring, she has a show in Vegas for which she is paid a cool half million per night. She works out, raises her kids, goes to a steady job, had a couple long term relationships and she doesn't constantly look terrified anymore. Plus she's still rich and well loved. I think whoever is looking after her is earning their money.

That is a different way of looking at it than I had been assuming was the case (based mostly on reading headlines, this is not a story I have followed closely). I definitely agree that there is nothing inconsistent about needing a guardian and being able to work; the key question is whether she is happy working or is being forced to perform against her will. As long as she is not being forced or coerced and she is staying healthy and given the necessary support, there may be nothing wrong with the current situation, other than that the profits seem to be heavily going to other people.

And, in fairness, having the profits go to hangers-on is true of show business more generally, rather than being a unique facet of this situation.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:32 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, I think the real question here is about what is appropriate now. It was clear that Ms. Spears was not doing at all well when she was deemed to need a guardian. I think the solution was appropriate then. The question is whether it's still needed. There are only a few people who can answer that question.
posted by OmieWise at 5:49 AM on May 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


...and none of them are posting here.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:08 AM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


her relationships seem by and large set up and controlled by her father, some of them have been seemingly just for show. it's in her father's best interest to have her appear as completely stable and happy under his supposed care.
posted by nadawi at 7:07 AM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


the key question is whether she is happy working or is being forced to perform against her will.

Blink once if you're happy, Britney; twice if you're performing against your will.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:14 AM on May 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Her other conservator is a lawyer named Wallet. I love that.
posted by JanetLand at 8:05 AM on May 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


The judge, though, citing a recent medical evaluation, said the singer was not capable of hiring her own counsel. Mr. Streisand said he respected the doctor’s opinion and went away.

This is terrifying, absolutely fucking terrifying. That someone has the power to say "i, a person who is not a doctor, have concluded that you are not medically competent enough to deserve your civil rights".
posted by poffin boffin at 10:12 AM on May 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


that is the kind of thinking that leads to shit like minority/mentally ill/incarcerated women being sterilized against their will.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:14 AM on May 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


that is the kind of thinking that leads to shit like minority/mentally ill/incarcerated women being sterilized against their will.

1) I agree
2) I do not deny that exactly that thing has happened.

But...
This is the sort of thing we ask judges and juries to do literally all the time. We ask them to ask experts, to weigh options in difficult situations, and to then make decisions. It's a slippery slope in all directions, it seems. In one direction, there's what you mention above. In the other direction, we don't know if she wanted to appoint her dog as her counsel, you know?

It seems to me that we're sitting on a ledge and there's almost nothing but slope all around us. All we can do is keep making adjustments to try to eliminate one of the many, many ways we can slide down to our doom.
posted by aureliobuendia at 10:25 AM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is terrifying, absolutely fucking terrifying. That someone has the power to say "i, a person who is not a doctor, have concluded that you are not medically competent enough to deserve your civil rights".

That would be terrifying, but that isn't how I read that statement from the article. I agree that it's not 100% clear, but I read it as the judge saying, "according to this recent medical evaluation, Ms. Spears is not capable of choosing her own lawyer." That might not be what happened, but the process of guardianship with which I am familiar, is not particularly easy. It's governed, at least where I am familiar with it, by reasonably strict controls.
posted by OmieWise at 10:54 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


either she's so sick that she needs constant controlling care or she's well enough to be involved in half a million per night deals. i don't understand a situation where both are true and ethical.

Amen. People can pay money for VIP tickets that include a meet-and-greet with her; how could she possibly be well enough for that but not well enough to manage her own affairs? Like Slap*Happy said, it smells like slavery.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:50 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


If whatever she's dealing with includes executive function difficulties, it seems entirely plausible that she could manage to do brief, delimited social interactions and still be (or feel) unable to handle the logistics of a multi-million-dollar career.
posted by Lexica at 9:55 AM on May 6, 2016


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