September 24, 2021

Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino on Britney Spears’s Conservatorship

RadioHour BritneySpears Social

Britney Spears has been one of the world’s most prominent pop stars since her début, in the late nineteen-nineties. But, since 2008, she’s been under a court-ordered conservatorship—a form of legal guardianship—which has restricted nearly all aspects of her life. Details about the arrangement have been kept out of public view, all while Spears has continued to turn out records and perform lucrative shows, earning millions of dollars for those around her. But the pop star is now directly confronting the people and structures that have ruled her life. In recent court testimony, Spears detailed her experience under the conservatorship for the first time. She demanded her liberty and expressed her anger, profound sadness, and frustration. She even alleged that her conservatorship, which is led by her father, prevented her from getting an IUD removed from her body, which her family denies. The staff writers Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino have investigated how Spears wound up in this situation, in the article “Britney Spears’s Conservatorship Nightmare.” They speak with David Remnick about Spears’s life under relentless public scrutiny, her cultural significance, and the thorny legal problems posed by conservatorships. “Conservatorships essentially deem someone incapacitated,” Tolentino says. “And, from that point, because they do remove your rights by necessity, they sort of foreclose the possibility of proving or gaining capacity to anyone under it.”