Don’t Let #FreeBritney Make You Forget How Powerful An Icon She Is
Whether you regard yourself as a Britney fan or not, the chances are you’ll be familiar with the #FreeBritney movement, which has dominated global headlines and trended on social media for much of the last year.
The social media campaign, which made its way into the mainstream media earlier this year, is calling for Britney Spears to be ‘freed’ from her legal conservatorship, which prevents her from making any decisions about her own personal life, career and finances.
Britney has been under the guardianship of her father, Jamie Spears, since 2008, following her alleged breakdown in 2007. Along with an attorney called Andrew Wallet, Jamie has full control over his daughter’s finances, as well as having powers over communicating with doctors and restricting visitors in her own home.
The #FreeBritney movement began back in 2009, when a fan site disagreed with the legal agreement put in place surrounding the restrictions preventing the 38-year-old from being able to make her own decisions. However, it gained real momentum in 2019, when Britney checked herself into a mental health care facility.
Although Britney herself has not commented on the movement, she has become increasingly active on social media in recent months, reassuring fans that she is, in fact, doing well.
Of course, the campaign comes from a place of love and appreciation for the Toxic singer, but it’s important not to let the ongoing legal battle cloud how we view her as a person and an artist, and how we look at the momentous impact she had on a generation of pop fans.
As new generations of TikTokers pass through through social media, it hurts to think that many of the younger generation will see Britney as merely a damsel in distress at the centre of an incredibly public legal battle, rather than the powerhouse of a woman she truly is.
It’s difficult to put the impact Britney’s music had on millions of fans all over the world into words; people whose lives were – and still are – soundtracked to the iconic early noughties pop.
Some of my favourite childhood memories involve getting home from school and purposefully keeping my uniform on so I could perfect the routine to Baby, One More Time routine, blissfully unaware of the provocative nature of the whimsical lyrics. Little did my friends and I know that we would be donning the Britney schoolgirl look for many years to come, tearing up the Pop World dance floor during student nights at university.
Long before eccentric Pop Queens like Lady Gaga and Sia were on the scene, Britney had some of the most globally appreciated and recreated looks of all time, and I’m yet to attend a single fancy dress party where someone isn’t dressed as Britney’s airhostess from Toxic, or her iconic VMAs 2001 performance where she performed I’m a Slave 4 U while holding an albino Burmese python. Seriously, that performance lives rent-free in my head.
Not only has Britney inspired a loyal cult following, particularly among LGBTQ+ followers who widely regard her as a gay icon, she’s also one of the most-awarded female recording artists of all time, with a number of world records under her belt.
Throughout her two-decade-long career, Britney has been nominated for an eye-watering 490 awards, taking home a total of 232. She became the youngest recording artist in the world to be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, when she was just 20 years old, and she has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
While most people would associate her with the red PVC catsuit days of her earlier work, Britney’s fifth studio album, Blackout, on which she was listed as an executive producer, is widely believed to be her best work to date. The album, which features global hits like Gimme More and Piece of Me, was released in 2007; the same year of her alleged breakdown.
Piece of Me was praised for its candid lyrics, which played on the media’s sensationalised interest in her from the tender age of 17, constantly picking on her weight and making judgements on her personal life.
These days, we see Britney at fewer and fewer public events, but increasingly on social media, as she performs dance routines and gives fans regular video updates on Instagram.
The point of this isn’t that we should forget about the ongoing #FreeBritney movement – because we shouldn’t – but that we shouldn’t let it dampen her incredible legacy. No matter what the outcome of her legal battle, Britney will forever remain an icon.
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