AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Pop star Britney Spears has not been in control of her professional, financial or personal life for more than a decade. She's under something called a conservatorship, controlled mostly by her father, Jamie Spears. Her story got renewed attention after a recent New York Times documentary called "Framing Britney Spears" looked at her case. Now, Spears did not speak with the filmmakers. In fact, she has been mostly silent on the matter until earlier today, when she made her first public statements about it at a hearing. NPR's Andrew Limbong is here with us now to tell us more.
ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.
CHANG: All right. So this hearing was this afternoon. Can you just tell us what happened?
LIMBONG: OK. Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, fans and reporters trying to get in and listen, you know, to the court proceedings crashed the Los Angeles County Court website. So there had been some technical difficulties and delays to get in. You know, I myself didn't - only caught, like, quite the tail end.
LIMBONG: Some fan accounts have actually been able to get access to the stream and have been posting snippets of what she's been saying. You know, these are accounts like FreeBritney Live and Britney Law Army. And then outside the courtroom, there's, you know, a gaggle of people and fans and FreeBritney supporters who are reading some of these tweets out loud to the group as everybody sort of, like, cheers along for her.
CHANG: Well, what are these snippets of tweets saying?
LIMBONG: Well, so this is the most outspoken she's really been about her situation. You know, she says that she's - her life is being exploited and she can't sleep and she's depressed and she cries every day. You know, she's really lacking any autonomy in her life, in, you know, all aspects of her life. One of the more, I guess, gruesome details would be she said that she, you know, wanted to get married and have another baby, but she has an IUD in place. And under her agreement, she says that she's not allowed to take it out and have another baby.
CHANG: Wow. OK, well, just to give everyone some context here, Britney Spears has tried for a long time to get out of this conservatorship, right?
LIMBONG: Yeah, actually, for a bit, according to a New York Times article just published yesterday. You know, they got - they unearthed some confidential court records. She's been trying to get out as early as 2014. You know, according to The Times, Spears has been working in private with the court to try and get her father removed as her main conservator. She says that she was afraid of him and that the system had too much control over her life. There's another stunning detail in that reporting that says that she felt forced to stay at a mental health facility. And she also felt, you know, forced to perform against her will.
There was a - there's a small public move last year. Her lawyer stated in a court filing that she strongly opposed her father as a conservator and refused to perform if he remained in charge of her career. Now, you know, that didn't remove him from power, but it did add a third party - a trust management company - to sort of be a co-conservator to her estate, which, you know, I should add, you know, it's - her estate is worth a lot. She's worth a lot of money, and none of that is accessible to Spears herself.
CHANG: So interesting - she has had this huge fan base behind her...
CHANG: ...Rallying under the #FreeBritney hashtag. Tell us, what are you hearing from some of these fans or reading online?
LIMBONG: I think it's a lot to process. You know, it's a lot emotionally. But I do think that they are feeling somewhat, at least, vindicated or emboldened. You know, every pop star has their, you know, so-called stan army, but not every pop star has people like Cher tweeting out yesterday that she's making calls and trying to help free Britney.
LIMBONG: And I think this is a movement that, you know, it's fair to say wasn't taken super-seriously until relatively recently, and it's gaining all the more steam. And Britney herself - she's only sort of, like, winked at the movement, at the campaign. But, you know, just hours before her hearing, her boyfriend actually posted himself on an Instagram story wearing a FreeBritney shirt, so it's really gaining some attention.
CHANG: Fascinating saga - that is NPR's Andrew Limbong.
Thank you, Andrew.
LIMBONG: Thanks, Ailsa.
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