Celebrities show support for Britney Spears

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A documentary about Britney Spears — from her rise to fame to the conservatorship she is now under — is making headlines and drawing reactions from viewers, including fellow celebrities and artists. 

The New York Times documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” which premiered February 5, explains the rise of the “Free Britney” movement. While the movement was started by fans, it has expanded from people concerned with her conservatorship to viewers, including celebrities, who are concerned with the way Spears has been treated in the media and allegedly treated by those close to her.

After watching the documentary, some Twitter users said they were “uncomfortable,” others said the documentary made them “angry”. Actress and host Valerie Bertinelli called the documentary a “gut punch.” 

Singer Kacey Musgraves tweeted: “Y’all..it’s plaguing me that nobody knows if @britneyspears is truly okay. Really hoping that if she isn’t she can formally vocalize it in some way and that she knows all of us on the outside really give a s**t about her well-being.”

The pop star’s father, Jamie Spears, has acted as the 39-year-old Spears’ conservator since 2008 and recently became co-conservator of her finances when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny appointed the Bessemer Trust Co. to share conservator duties with him.

Spears has been fighting to completely remove her father from her conservatorship, and the documentary makes the case that she should not be in a conservatorship at all, as she is able to comprehend the conservatorship and is able to work. 

Many fans involved in the Free Britney movement believe Spears tries to send secret messages to ask for help through her Instagram, as she often posts somewhat bizarre videos with confusing captions. 

On Tuesday, Spears’ boyfriend, Sam Asghari, used his own Instagram to speak publicly about Spears’ father, writing: “Now it’s important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way. In my opinion Jamie [Spears] is a total d**k.” 

The actor and model, 27, goes on to say he won’t go into details because he respects privacy. “But I didn’t come into this country not to be able to express my opinion and freedom,” said Asghari, who immigrated from Iran.

CBS News has reached out to Mr. Spears’ attorney, Andrew Wallet, seeking comment from him and and Mr. Spears on the documentary, the Free Britney movement and Asghari’s post, and is awaiting response. 

Other celebrities said they watched the documentary and hope Spears finds freedom from her conservatorship. Actress Amber Tamblyn tweeted: “Framing Britney was a rough watch, much like the Winehouse documentary, only we know how that story ended. I hope Britney is freed of that conservatorship— ‘liberated’ as she says in her own words. It is baffling that any judge would continue to uphold it.”

Comedian Fortune Feimster tweeted: “I watched the NYT doc on Britney Spears and it is SO messed up that they aren’t letting this very successful adult woman be in charge of her own life. She’s made it very clear she does not want her dad to have any part of her finances and life decisions. That should be enough.”

Talk show host Tamron Hall said “it’s an understatement” to call the documentary “heartbreaking.”

Miley Cyrus gave a shout-out to Spears during her post-Super Bowl performance, saying: “We love Britney.” 

Other celebrities, including Andy Cohen, Sarah Jessica Parker, Meghan McCain and Bette Midler, shared their support by tweeting “Free Britney.”

Actress and activist Jameela Jamil shared a petition for the judge to end the conservatorship, which has been signed by more than 100,000 people.

Jamil has spoken out against what she calls the “gaslighting” of women in media, saying the media often portrays women as “annoying and hysterical.” Jamil said on Instagram Tuesday that her theory applies to Spears. 

Los Angeles attorney Lisa MacCarley, who specializes in estate planning, probate law and conservatorships, has sent a letter to more than 100 attorneys asking them to “contact the Los Angeles County probate department, especially the probate staff, and request that Judge Penny terminate the conservatorship.”

In the letter, which MacCarley shared with CBS News, she writes that “Framing Britney Spears” “gave a subtle but powerful glimpse into the unconstitutional manner in which Ms. Spears’ conservatorship originally devolved.” She tells her fellow lawyers that “We would be complicit in the remarkable violation of Ms. Spears’ constitutional rights if we watch and do nothing.”

The ACLU has in the past advocated for Spears, sharing in August how they believe the conservatorship threatens her civil rights. A conservatorship is put in place when a judge appoints a responsible person or organization — the “conservator” — to care for another adult who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances, according to the California court system.

“Conservatorships limit a person’s civil liberties, which we at the ACLU of course view as a core concern. But beyond that, conservatorships don’t necessarily actually make people safer: They can result in financial, physical, or emotional abuse,” the ACLU writes.

“Framing Britney Spears” also resurfaces old paparazzi videos and interviews in which the media appears to treat Spears insensitively. 

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