Commentary: What’s Next for Britney Spears?

Courtesy of Hnkkk | FlickrLoyola A&E Editor Alec Karam reflects on the future of Britney Spears now that her conservatorship has ended.

“I’m so fed up with people telling me to be someone else but me,” Britney Spears sang in the foreboding “Overprotected” in 2001. 

Two decades following the track’s release — and 13 years since being stripped of her rights — Britney Spears is free after a judge ruled to terminate her conservatorship Nov. 12. Free to drive her car. Free to make decisions about her own body.

Free to make whatever career decisions she sees fit. 

It’s been a perilous road for the former teen sensation and current pop culture titan. Debuting in 1998 with the smash hit “…Baby One More Time,” Spears captured the world and rose to an unfathomable level of fame.

“I’m miss American dream, since I was 17 / Don’t matter if I step on the scene or sneak away to the Philippines / They still ‘gon put pictures of my derriere in the magazine,” she sang in 2007’s “Piece of Me,” off the sole album in Spears’ discography she executive produced, “Blackout.”

Just a year later, Britney lost her freedom. Spears was placed under a conservatorship — a legal agreement in which a person’s physical and financial decisions are placed in the hands of an assigned guardian — and stripped of her autonomy. 

Despite the court’s ruling stripping Spears of her right to drive or watch her children without a chaperone and possibly her right to vote, Spears was allowed — and encouraged — to perform scrutinous hours. Under her conservatorship, she released four studio albums, went on three world tours and hosted two Las Vegas residencies.

Spears was a workhorse, working at the hands of her father, Jamie, her mother, Lynne, her sister, Jamie Lynn, her business manager, Lou Taylor of Tri Star Entertainment, her manager, Larry Rudolph — who Spears had fired only to be rehired once she was under the conservatorship — and the court who denied Spears her right to a chosen legal counsel.

Spears’ life was ripped away from her so she could become a performing robot. Under the conservatorship, Spears released four of her five Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles — “Womanizer” (2008), “3” (2009) “Hold It Against Me” (2011) and the “S&M” remix with Rihanna (2011) — as well as imperial hits “Circus,” “‘Till the World Ends,” “I Wanna Go” and “Work B—-.”

After a podcast intended to discuss Spears’ Instagram, Britney’s Gram, released an episode titled #FREEBRITNEY April 16, 2019, an avalanche of fan support and public scrutiny — further spearheaded by the February 2021 Hulu documentary “Framing Britney Spears” — led to a toppling of the house of cards imprisoning Spears.

There’s no turning back the clock. Britney Spears is a 39-year-old woman. 

Fans have fought for years to #FreeBritney. Many may yearn for a new album or an unfiltered exposé into her salacious life. After all, die-hard fans have thirsted for the long-fabled “Original Doll” album — a project Spears mentioned in an impromptu 2005 radio appearance yet never surfaced — remembered only by the sporadic leaks found on YouTube.

But we deserve nothing in return. 

Nov. 12 was a historic day in pop culture history — let’s not diminish it by making it about ourselves. And please, be better than to equate Spears escaping her oppressive conservatorship to Katy Perry dying her hair black again.

It’s time we grow from the sexist ridicule that made Spears’ conservatorship possible in the first place. 

For the first time since she was 26, Britney can spend her own money. She can travel where she wants. She can perform when she wants. She can appease whichever fans she wants.

A long road lies ahead —  including ongoing legal action against Spears’ father and business managers — but finally, Spears will be in the driver’s seat.

“I need to make mistakes just to learn who I am / And I don’t wanna be so damn protected,” Spears sang in “Overprotected.”

What is she going to do with her life? We’ll find it out, don’t worry.

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