What is going on with Britney Spears? This is a question some fans have been asking since early January, when news broke that her second Las Vegas residency, Domination, was canceled. At the time, the pop icon wrote in an Instagram caption that her father Jamie’s illness is what caused her to call off the show. “A couple of months ago, my father was hospitalized and almost died,” she wrote alongside a childhood photo of herself, Jamie, and her mother, Lynne. “We’re all so grateful that he came out of it alive, but he still has a long road ahead of him. I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time.”
What’s transpired since this announcement has been confusing, to say the least. Spears’ Instagram—which was buzzing with selfies, memes, and fashion-show videos—went radio silent. Then, on April 3, TMZ reported that she had checked into a mental health facility in late March because she was “distraught” over her dad’s health. A source told E! it was Spears’ decision.
For context: In January, People reported that Jamie was expected to make a full recovery after his colon ruptured. This contradicts the TMZ story, which claimed his condition is “quite serious” and “not getting better.” In short, there have been inconsistencies in the reports. Then Spears posted this Instagram on the day TMZ ran its story:
“We all need to take time for a little ‘me time,'” Spears wrote, alongside a smiley face she styled as “:)” instead of using an emoji. Anyone who frequently looks at Spears’ Instagram feed knows she often uses emojis, which led to speculation that she didn’t write this “me time” post.
On April 16, a voicemail was sent to “Britney’s Gram,” a podcast hosted by comedians Tess Barker and Barbara Gray, that speculated all was not well. It came from a paralegal, who claims he worked for one of Spears’ lawyers.
But before we get into this voicemail, it’s important to understand Spears’ current legal situation as we know it: She’s under what’s known as a conservatorship, which essentially means she does not have full legal control of her affairs. In 2008, shortly after Spears’ well-documented breakdown, Jamie was appointed as a conservator of his daughter’s estate. The exact nuances and minutia of Spears’ conservatorship aren’t widely available, but the fact that Jamie is her conservator—and has been for over a decade—is common knowledge. Attorney Andrew Wallet has also served as Spears’ co-conservator for 10 years, specifically looking over her finances, but that ended in March 2019.
What the paralegal claims is going on with Spears in the voicemail speaks to this conservatorship and the (alleged) lack of control she has in her decisions. Here is the transcript:
“Hi there. I cannot disclose who I am. I just heard the latest episode. You guys are on to something. I used to be a paralegal for an attorney that worked with Britney’s conservatorship. I’m no longer with them. And what is happening is disturbing, to say the least. Basically, Britney was in rehearsals for Domination. It came to Jamie’s attention—Jamie Spears—that Britney was not taking her medication as prescribed. She was missing a lot of doses and just full-on not taking them. So they got her to the doctor. The doctor said, ‘OK, if you don’t want these medications, let’s get you on a new one.’ She refused to take the new one. So Jamie said, ‘Either you take this medication or the show’s off and I’m pulling my support and you can’t do it.’ Britney did not follow Jamie’s instructions, and so he was true to his word: He pulled the show. He, verbatim, said, ‘Blame it on my illness.’ That’s when we get the early January Instagram.
Fast-forward a couple of days, Britney’s still not following through with her medications, and as you guys have mentioned, she is seen with Sam [Asghari, her boyfriend] driving. It’s a big rule that she broke. Britney has been in the mental facility since mid-January. Of course, the statement yesterday said she entered last week. That is not true. She’s been in there since mid-January, and there is no timeline. Granted, I haven’t worked at the firm for a little over two weeks now, but there is no end, particularly in sight, for this stay at this mental facility to end. She did not want to go. I, of course, am just a paralegal and haven’t had any contact with her. But from what I understand this was not a decision she made. At all.”
None of this information has been confirmed, of course. Gray and Barker say in the podcast they vetted this paralegal and believe him to be a credible source—but that’s still not a definitive answer about Britney Spears’ situation. Everything is speculative right now, which is why you should take all of this with a grain of salt.
That being said, several things have happened since Gray and Barker posted the voicemail that some fans claim speak to its validity. A hashtag is now all over both Twitter and Instagram, #FreeBritney, accompanied by messages from fans demanding answers.
Paris Hilton, who hung out with Spears in the early-aughts, has even used this hashtag:
Luann de Lesseps, from The Real Housewives New York City, also posted about #FreeBritney, though it’s unclear how or if she knows the singer.
The Talk dedicated an entire segment to the movement:
Spears’ mother, Lynne, has reportedly “liked” several of these #FreeBritney posts:
She also posted this message about having faith, which fans claim is tied to #FreeBritney:
The movement has moved beyond social media too. A real-life #FreeBritney rally went down on Monday, April 22 at the West Hollywood City Council:
Entertainment Tonight sent a reporter to cover it:
On April 22, Spears’ younger sister, Jamie Lynn, posted on Twitter defending herself against people saying she’s been silent on the #FreeBritney front. She embedded a video of herself protecting Spears from a heckler back in 2008 and wrote, “10 years ago, who was there?? I have been here long before anyone else and I’ll be here long after. I love my sister with everything I have. So anyone or anything that speaks to the contrary can GTFOH with all the comments about what you don’t understand. Don’t come for me or the ones I love anymore.”