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Framing Britney Spears Full Documentary

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Author Topic: Framing Britney Spears Full Documentary  (Read 714 times)
Veronica Poe
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« on: July 04, 2021, 05:32:10 pm »

Conservatorships can protect people who are elderly, or who live with profound disabilities or catastrophic mental illness. But there is also a wide range of alternatives to conservatorship that are less strict than what Spears has experienced, such as conditional powers of attorney or formal shared control of finances. As conservatorship law is written, the court is required to determine that a conservatorship is—and remains—necessary. “In practice,” Zoë Brennan-Krohn, a disability-rights attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “this is absolutely not the case. What should be happening is that a judge at a reëvaluation hearing would ask, ‘What else have you tried? Why isn’t anything else working?’ And, if the conservator hasn’t shown that they’ve tried less restrictive options, the conservatorship should be suspended. But I’ve never heard of a judge asking that in any situation.”

Lisa MacCarley, an estate-and-probate lawyer in Los Angeles who has become something of a “mascot,” as she put it, for the #FreeBritney movement, describes the city’s probate-court system as plagued by cronyism, with judges appointing advocates from a small list of favored lawyers. Ingham, she said, “has made a lot of money bullshitting people.” The Times has reported that Ingham described a ninety-minute meeting with Spears as “at least three times longer” than any session he’d previously had with her. In one hearing, according to the Times, Goetz, the judge, told him that she didn’t recall an order specifically preventing Spears from getting married, but that he “may not want to tell her that.” Ingham replied, “Somehow, that did not come up in the conversation.”

Less than a week after Spears’s statement in court, Jamie’s lawyers submitted a filing that pinned Spears’s unhappiness on Jodi Montgomery, who has served as the conservator of Spears’s person since September, 2019, and whom Ingham has petitioned to be permanently appointed. They suggested that, perhaps, Spears did not have enough say in the matter of Montgomery’s appointment. In another filing, Jamie’s lawyers requested an investigation into the truthfulness of Spears’s statement in court.

People on Spears’s team suggest that further hearings will undermine her claims. “God bless her, I felt sorry for her. But at the same time, don’t be telling tall tales,” the member of her team said. “Your problems, what was wrong with you, your shortcomings—don’t keep trying to blame everyone else for it.” The defenders of the conservatorship offer a set of familiar narratives to explain her ire: that Spears is being manipulated by a man—at this moment, according to some, Asghari—with an interest in commandeering her fortune, and that there is a grave medical diagnosis behind the arrangement that the public has no right to know. “It is so **** irresponsible to say, ‘Let her do whatever she wants to do,’ ” the member of her team said.

The idea that Spears needs this conservatorship to function is, to some degree, self-reinforcing. In that respect, experts said, her case is common. Martinis, the disability-rights lawyer, said that many guardianships can prove inescapable, which is why they are vulnerable to abuse. In the extreme cases, he said, “the strategy is isolate, medicate, liquidate. You isolate them, medicate them to keep them quiet, liquidate the assets.” If a conservatee functions well under conservatorship, it can be framed as proof of the arrangement’s necessity; if a conservatee struggles under conservatorship, the same conclusion can be drawn. And if a conservatee gets out, and stumbles into crisis or manipulation—a likelihood increased by time spent formally disempowered—this, too, might reinforce the argument for their prior legal restraints. “Our mistakes make us who we are, and teach us who we can be,” Martinis said. “Without bad choices, we can’t be wholly human. And with the best of intentions, we say to people with disabilities: we’ll keep you from ever making a mistake.” He added, “Should Britney get out, just watch. The first mistake she makes, fingers will wag, and people will say this would never have happened if she were under guardianship.”

“There’s this concept of the dignity of risk,” Brennan-Krohn, the A.C.L.U. lawyer, said. “Most of us have a very wide range of bad choices we can make that society is O.K. with, but, in a conservatorship, you’re subject to the decision-making rubric of best interest. And it’s possible we’d all be better off if someone was making decisions for us like that, but those are not the values of the society we live in.” In her remarks this June, Spears gestured, briefly, to the wider world of broken guardianships: “We can sit here all day and say, ‘Oh, conservatorships are here to help people,’ but, Ma’am, there’s a thousand conservatorships that are abusive, as well.” As she said this, the #FreeBritney supporters at the courthouse, their glittery signs laid down on the concrete, let out an impassioned “Yes!”

The question of control has surrounded Britney Spears from the start of her career. How much was she being manipulated by the powerful men who stood to profit from her image? To what extent was her existence manufactured by the demands of the system around her? A strong sense of self-ownership always emerged from Spears in performance, specifically in dance: when she moved, she was sharp, knowing, seemingly absorbing everything thrown at her and surmounting it through sheer will and charisma. And, all along, as her fans have noticed, she has been singing songs that she didn’t write but which nonetheless seem to speak directly to her situation: my loneliness is killing me; I’m a slave for you; I’m not a girl, not yet a woman; you want a piece of me. As famous and wealthy as Spears has been since she was a teen-ager, she has never been in full control of her life. Many of the most harrowing revelations in her testimony had been visible to anyone who cared to look closely. She told the court that she’d wanted to express them for a long time but had been afraid to do so in public. “I thought people would make fun of me,” she said. “Or laugh at me and say, ‘She’s lying. She’s got everything. She’s Britney Spears.’ ”
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