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The Importance of the #FreeBritney Movement and How We Talk About Mental Health
Britney Spears rose to superstardom in the late 1990s and is commonly referred to as the “Princess of Pop.” But, unfortunately, the singer’s phenomenal success was followed by damaging media coverage. Tabloids looking to sensationalize Britney’s life did so to the detriment of the singer’s mental health — and the consequences have been lasting.
In 2008, closed door legal proceedings led to the pop star being placed under a strict conservatorship. The conservatorship, which is governed by her father, Jamie Spears, has not only stripped the singer of her agency, but it has cast a harsh light on how mental health is covered and discussed at large. Now, over a decade later, Spears, 39, is still under that conservatorship, and, in the wake of the new New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears , the #FreeBritney movement has seen a recent resurgence.
How Did the Conservatorship Come About?
By the mid-2000s, the stress of superstardom and constant public scrutiny had taken an emotional toll on Britney — and tabloids were more than eager to take advantage of that, sensationalizing and pathologizing her every action. Despite the barrage of misinformation and prying photographers, Britney checked into a mental health facility, but the intrusive headlines kept coming.
In fact, she ended up losing custody of her two sons, whom she’d had with ex-husband Kevin Federline. Additionally, her father petitioned the California courts to take control of Britney’s personal, financial and medical decisions via a conservatorship. The court-approved mandate made the pop star a ward of her father’s — and, as such, he was granted control of her $47 million estate and her personal and professional activities. After six months, the temporary conservatorship became permanent; the documents have always remained sealed, so the exact reasons for the decision are unknown. In the 2008 MTV documentary Britney: For the Record , Britney compared the conservatorship to being incarcerated, calling her situation “never-ending.”
The Rise of the #FreeBritney Movement
As early as 2009, fans of Britney — who believe the singer is being unfairly held “captive” by her family and management team — started the #FreeBritney campaign to demand her release from the conservatorship (via Rolling Stone ). Around this time, Britney recorded her sixth album, Circus ; appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards; and toured, but fans continued to speak out on the singer’s behalf. In response to the public backlash to the conservatorship, a lawyer claiming to represent Britney — who the singer couldn’t have hired herself under the terms of the conservatorship — failed to get any restrictions removed, with the judge declaring that doing so would be a “travesty of justice.”
In the years that followed, Britney began a four-year Las Vegas residency while continuing to release new music and tour. Her father has maintained complete control of her financial, personal and professional decisions. Additionally, she is closely monitored by “handlers” and doesn’t have access to email. In fact, Britney can’t file her own tax returns or “pursue opportunities related to professional commitments,” including “performances, music recording, music videos, tours, TV shows and other similar activities,” without the consent of her medical team.
Fans Aim to Expose the Corruption of the Conservatorship
As the Washington Post reported on May 17, 2019, “Sources close to the singer are pushing back on the #FreeBritney narrative, emphasizing that Spears is in the conservatorship for a reason — long-term mental-health issues that they would not specify. They know #FreeBritney is born out of fans’ love for her, they say, but insist that fans don’t understand the details of Spears’ condition and the logistics of the legal arrangement, which is monitored closely by medical professionals and the courts.”
Her manager, Larry Rudolph, said, “The last thing any California state judge wants is to do something incorrectly and inappropriately and be the subject of a story about a judge that has done something wrong to Britney Spears.” He goes on to insist the conservatorship “helps Britney make business decisions and manage her life in ways she can’t do on her own right now.” After her father became ill with a life-threatening colon condition, the personal components of the conservatorship were transferred to Jodi Montgomery, a longtime employee dubbed Britney’s “care manager.”
In early January 2019, just before her second Las Vegas residency, Britney posted an announcement on her website. “This is so tough for me to say,” the statement said. “I will not be performing my new show Domination . I’ve been looking forward to this show and seeing all of you this year, so doing this breaks my heart. However, it’s important to always put your family first, and that’s the decision I had to make.”
Millions of dollars were already invested in the Las Vegas residency, so the decision led to a surge in theories about the cancellation. One key point of interest was that the original attorney working with Jamie Spears resigned only a few months after requesting a raise. Additionally, in April 2019, People claimed that Britney “checked into a facility for ‘all-encompassing wellness treatment’ and needed to focus on herself.”
Some criticize the #FreeBritney movement because the supporters of it lack “first-hand knowledge” of the situation. Nonetheless, her die-hard fans stress that, unlike the tabloids, they don’t speculate on Britney’s mental health. Instead, their aim is to expose the corruption of the conservatorship and the ways people are continuing to benefit financially from Britney’s career at the expense of her agency and health.
“Framing Britney Spears” & the #FreeBritney Movement in 2021
Over the summer in 2020, Britney posted videos and photos on Instagram, reigniting the #FreeBritney movement. In mid-August 2020, Britney’s attorney requested a substantial amendment to the conservatorship, which was set to expire on August 22. Despite Britney’s opposition to her father’s continued control and his request for a co-conservator, a judge extended Jamie Spears’ control until February 2021. Now, Britney’s father is a co-conservator alongside the Bessemer Trust Company.
As that 2021 date nears, The New York Times ‘ new documentary, Framing Britney Spears , has debuted on FX and Hulu. “While Spears’ legal battles are well-publicized, the documentary also touches on themes of media bias and mental health,” Rolling Stone notes, “especially when addressing the star’s supposed ‘breakdown'” in 2007. As the doc illustrates, when it comes to celebrities and mental illness, we need to stop gawking at mental illness or making celebrity’s actions into memes and soundbites.
This starts with how mental illness and conditions are covered by media, and how we talk about mental health at large. Bassey Ikpi, author of I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying: Essays , has publicly advocated for the media to reassess how it covers celebrity mental illness and the actions that stem from living with said illnesses. “Mental illness is not an excuse, but it is a reason,” Ikpi told WBUR . “And it has to be contextualized. It has to be framed so that people understand that the way that one behaves is the literal definition of what a mental illness is.”
Of course, unlike most other celebrities, Britney’s situation is complicated further by the abusive actions of those around her. Nonetheless, the #FreeBritney movement helps to underscore the importance of supporting folks in the spotlight and spreading real awareness about mental health. After all, it’s abundantly clear that sensationalized tabloids, soundbites and memes have had an enduring impact on Britney’s life.
Stronger Than Yesterday? Britney’s Bombshell Testimony
On June 24, 2021, a status hearing was held regarding the conservatorship and the possibility of ending it. There, Spears could finally tell the world what has been going on in her own words. She referred to the conservatorship as “abusive,” and went on to say that she “can’t sleep.”
She had posted several selfies on Instagram in 2020, claiming that she was okay and doing well, but Spears said that she was in denial during that time. Spears took the opportunity to tell her side of the story, asserting that it is perfectly alright to say “no” to a dance move, that she takes her medication in the mornings, so how could managers accuse her of not taking meds if they never see her when she takes them?
Of Spears’s 24-minute testimony , news regarding the treatment of the pop star’s body was quick to shock the world. Spears wants to marry and have another child. However, she’s not even allowed to be in a car with her boyfriend.
“I want to get married and have a baby. I was told I couldn’t get married. I have an IUD inside me but this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to remove it because they don’t want me to have children. This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good.”
News about the IUD was particularly upsetting. This revelation is certain to spark debates over mental health and reproductive rights. IUD is short for intrauterine device. These devices are interested into the uterus as a method of birth control. To have an IUD in one’s body against one’s consent could be interpreted as a violation of one’s human rights. When people chant, “Free Britney!” it’s for the liberty to be able to make this choice for themselves, or to have the right person doing it for them.
So far, Jamie Spears’s only comment is that he loves his daughter and misses her. Pop stars such as Brandy, Mariah Carey, Halsey and many other celebrities have expressed their concern and support for the beloved icon.
In the last decade, the treatment of Britney Spears has gone from #LeaveBritneyAlone to #FreeBritney. Surely she deserves to be freed from her conservatorship. But, could the next phase in Britney’s long saga be #ListentoBritney? Listening to victims is important, so perhaps this could spark conversation about how to help survivors of abuse feel comfortable enough to come forward.
It’s clear that, given space and proper support to speak out, Britney Spears was able to paint a clearer picture of what was really going on in her conservatorship and this may lead to a speedy decision to end the 13-year long conservatorship with her father. Whether or not this will result in a different conservatorship or emancipation for Spears is unclear. We hope that, no matter the result, Spears continues to use her voice.
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Oops!.. I Did It Again World Tour
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The show consisted of four segments with each segment being followed by an interlude to the next segment, and it ended with an encore. The show began with Spears descending from a giant orb. Most of the songs displayed energetic dance routines with the exception of the second segment, which featured mostly ballads. The encore consisted of a performance with pyrotechnics. The Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour received positive reviews from critics, who praised Spears's energy onstage as well as the band. It was also a commercial success, grossing $40.5 million and becoming one of the highest grossing tours of 2000. The Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour was broadcast by many channels around the world.
- 1 Background
- 2 Development
- 3 Concert synopsis
- 4 Reception
- 5 Broadcasts and recordings
- 6 Opening acts
- 8 Tour dates
- 9 Photo gallery
Background [ ]
On February 22, 2000, Spears announced a summer tour in support of her second studio album, Oops!... I Did It Again (2000). The tour marked the first time Spears toured Europe . She commented, "I'm going to go to Europe, and just basically go everywhere for six months, [...] I've never toured outside of the U.S. I've never experienced other fans in other places, and performing in front of them is going to be so exciting." Before the tour began, Forbes reported that concert promoter SFX Entertainment guaranteed her a minimum of $200,000 per show. Tour sponsors from the 2000 leg of the ...Baby One More Time Tour , Got Milk? , and Polaroid , remained. Clairol 's Herbal Essences was also added as a sponsor. [4 ] Spears recorded a song for the latter called "I've Got the Urge to Herbal" to be used on their radio campaign, though she chose to not attend a photoshoot for the product when she decided to support an 86-day strike by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). She later donated $1 from each ticket sold from her Inglewood, California show on July 28, 2000 to the union.
Development [ ]
Jamie King was chosen as tour director. Tim Miller and Kevin Antunes served as director of production and musical director , respectively. Mark Foffano was chosen as the lightning director. Spears described the tour as "like a Broadway show". The setlist included material from her first studio album ...Baby One More Time (1999) as well as seven songs from Oops!... I Did It Again . Spears explained, "I've been singing the same material for so long now. It'll be nice to change it up a little bit." She also talked about her expectations for the tour, saying, "I can't wait. I'll have a world tour. I'm going to have more dancers, a bigger stage, more pyro… just a lot bigger". The proscenium stage was much more elaborate than the stage of her previous tour and included video screens, movable platforms and different props. It cost $2.2 million to build. The tone of the show variated from the beginning: for the performance of "Born to Make You Happy", Spears sang in a set resembling a children's bedroom, complete with large toys and a pillow fight routine. On the contrary, she unveiled a more sophisticated image for "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know", and followed it with raunchy performances for "...Baby One More Time" and "Oops!... I Did It Again".
The sound equipment was provided by Showco who used the PRISM system, which adapted the show for each venue according to its height, width and the coverage required. The sound was mixed by Front of house engineer Monty Lee Wilkes on a combination of Yamaha PM4000 and PM3000 consoles, an unusual choice for Spears's shows. He used dbx 903 compressors for kick and snare drums . The compressors were also used on Spears's microphones, a Shure Beta 58A handheld and a Crown CM-311AE headset-mounted capsule. Spears's vocals were mostly live—pre-recorded vocals ran in parallel on an ADAT machine during the shows, and were used to replace her live microphone when the dance routines became too energetic for good voice control. Spears's band, backline technicians and monitor engineer Raza Sufi were all fitted with in-ear monitors and headset mics, enabling rapid and clear communications around the stage area. Spears did not use them, preferring the ambient sound of a battery of eight Showco SRM wedges spread across the downstage area. These were augmented by Showco SS full-range sidefills and a pair of one-by-18-inch subs on each side of the stage. Sufi also used a dbx 160A to limit Spears's louder moments, while backing vocalists were controlled by a duo of BSS DPR901 dynamic equalizers. Effects were limited to vocal and drum reverbs . Amplification for the wedges and the FOH system were all Crown-based, with a pair of drum stool shakers completing the line-up. All the cables used during the tour were brought from the US, even in Europe, something unusual in audio production.
Concert synopsis [ ]
The show began with the video introduction "The Britney Spears Experience", in which three images of Spears welcomed spectators to the show. [13 ] Then, a giant metal orb was lowered onstage and lifted again to reveal Spears standing behind it, wearing glittery jeans and a pink halter top (orange on the European leg). Spears started with two dance-oriented performances of " (You Drive Me) Crazy " and " Stronger ". This was followed by "What U See (Is What U Get)" in which she danced in a stripper pole . [15 ] The act ended with Spears talking to the audience and sitting on a stool to perform " From The Bottom of My Broken Heart " with her guitarist Skip. After she left the stage, there was a video interlude hosted by *NSYNC in which contestants did different games in order to meet Spears. She appeared onstage to meet the chosen fan and then welcomed the audience into her bedroom. Wearing pajamas and slippers, she performed " Born to Make You Happy ", which included a dance segment near the end. The next performance of " Lucky " featured a navy theme. She continued with " Sometimes ", in which she wore an outfit similar to the one she wore in the music video of the song. At the end, she climbed the staircase and briefly spoke to the audience before moving into a performance of " Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know ", for which she wore a long white dress trimmed with boa feathers. [5 ] [13 ]
A band interlude showcasing a mix of funk and progressive rock followed, and Spears reappeared to perform her cover of Sonny & Cher 's " The Beat Goes On ." During the performance, she was lifted into the air wearing a kimono that covered most of the stage. She continued with "Don't Go Knockin' On My Door" and her cover of The Rolling Stones 's " (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction ", which ended with a dance sequence set to the original version. Later there was a dance interlude in which the dancers showed their individual moves while their names appeared on the screens. Spears took the stage again in a conservative schoolgirl outfit to perform " ...Baby One More Time ." She ripped it off halfway through the song to reveal a cheerleader ensemble. [5 ] [13 ] Spears then thanked the audience and left the stage. She returned shortly after to perform " Oops!... I Did It Again ", that included pyrotechnics and other special effects. [13 ] She ended the performance disappearing through a tunnel of fire.
Reception [ ]
The show received generally positive reviews from critics. Andrew Miller of The Pitch stated "[the concert] at Sandstone proved that many [of Spears's] criticisms are off-base observations from people who have never actually attended one of these stars' shows. The music came from a talented band, not a DAT, and the bass lines to such songs as "... Baby One More Time" and "The Beat Goes On" rose to a funky growl in the live setting. For another, Spears' vocals were the real thing, as she sang in an alluringly low tone [...] but capably hit the high notes [...], however, she left the upper-octave duties to her background singers [...] during Spears' most strenuous dance routines". [13 ] Richard Leiby of The Washington Post believed that the show "[was] great". [16 ] Dan Aquilante of the New York Post said that Spears "seemed to be enjoying the show as much as her fans. Maybe it was the Mariah -like cowboy hat pushed back on her noggin or possibly the stripper's pole borrowed from Madonna 's prop closet, [...] Spears was in her element and having a ball". [17 ] Letta Tayler of Newsday said "For half the show, she remained the old Britney, the budding teen who dreamed of romance. But the rest of the time, she was a full-throttle tease, with sprayed- on clothes, a hard-edged attitude and a harder edge to her techno and hip-hop- coated pop to match". [18 ]
Jon Pareles of The New York Times stated "What you get from this 18-year-old singer is a big smile, a little voice, gushes of sincerity, hardworking dance routines, shameless advertising and a determination to play both sides of pubescence for all they're worth". [14 ] Jim Farber of Daily News commented that "Despite such spicy bits, the core of Britney's concert suffered from the familiarity and cheesiness of all teen road shows these days. The sparklers, explosions and mandatory flying dancers conformed to the corniness of theme park entertainment". [15 ] The ticket prices were set at $32 in North America. The reported dates averaged $507,786 in grosses and 15,841 in attendance. Susanne Ault of Billboard also reported that many of the shows sold out in one day. [19 ] The tour had a total gross of $40.5 million. [20 ] It became the tenth highest-grossing tour of the year in North America, as well as the second highest grossing tour by a solo artist, only behind Tina Turner 's Twenty Four Seven Tour .
Broadcasts and recordings [ ]
On November 30, 2000, the September 20 concert at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans aired on Fox . The special was titled There's No Place Like Home . [22 ] The show at London Arena was filmed and broadcast by Sky1 . [23 ] The show at Rock In Rio was broadcast on DirecTV .
Opening acts [ ]
- A*Teens (North America) (select venues) [25 ]
- innosense (North America) (select venues) [25 ]
- No Authority (North America) (select venues) [14 ]
- 2ge+her (North America) (select venues) [26 ]
- BBMak (North America) (select venues)
Setlist [ ]
- "The Britney Spears Experience" (Video Introduction)
- " (You Drive Me) Crazy "
- " Stronger "
- "What U See (Is What U Get)"
- " From the Bottom of My Broken Heart "
- "What Would You Do to Meet Britney?" (Video Interlude)
- " Born to Make You Happy "
- " Sometimes "
- " Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know "
- "Meet the Band" (Performance Interlude)
- " The Beat Goes On "
- "Don't Go Knockin' on My Door"
- " (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction "
- "Meet the Dancers" (Dance Interlude)
- " ...Baby One More Time "
- "The Britney Spears Experience II" (Video Interlude)
- " Oops!... I Did It Again "
Tour dates [ ]
Photo gallery [ ].
- 1 Britney & Kevin's Wedding
- 3 Original Doll
- Statistics Stats
- You are here:
- Spears, Britney
- Tour Statistics
- Song Statistics Stats
- Tour Statistics Stats
- Other Statistics
- All setlist songs ( 953 )
Years on tour
- 2018 ( 31 )
- 2017 ( 72 )
- 2016 ( 65 )
- 2015 ( 73 )
- 2014 ( 59 )
- 2013 ( 5 )
- 2011 ( 83 )
- 2009 ( 97 )
- 2008 ( 6 )
- 2007 ( 7 )
- 2004 ( 63 )
- 2003 ( 20 )
- 2002 ( 54 )
- 2001 ( 42 )
- 2000 ( 134 )
- 1999 ( 113 )
- 1998 ( 29 )
Show all tours
- ...Baby One More Time ( 56 )
- Britney: Live in Concert ( 11 )
- Britney: Piece of Me ( 249 )
- Crazy 2K Tour ( 25 )
- Dream Within A Dream ( 69 )
- Femme Fatale Tour ( 80 )
- Hair Zone Mall Tour ( 2 )
- Oops!...I Did It Again ( 90 )
- Piece of Me Tour ( 31 )
- The Circus Starring Britney Spears ( 97 )
- The M+M's Tour ( 6 )
- The Onyx Hotel ( 55 )
- Avg Setlist
- Concert Map
Average setlist for tour: Oops!...I Did It Again
Note: only considered 89 of 90 setlists (ignored empty and strikingly short setlists)
- Song played from tape The Britney Spears Experience Play Video
- (You Drive Me) Crazy Play Video
- Stronger Play Video
- What U See (Is What U Get) Play Video
- From the Bottom of My Broken Heart Play Video
- Song played from tape What Would You Do to Meet Britney? Play Video
- Born to Make You Happy Play Video
- Lucky Play Video
- Sometimes Play Video
- Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know Play Video
- Song played from tape Meet the Band Play Video
- The Beat Goes On ( Sonny & Cher cover) Play Video
- Don't Go Knockin' on My Door Play Video
- (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction ( The Rolling Stones cover) Play Video
- Song played from tape Meet the Dancers Play Video
- ...Baby One More Time Play Video
- Song played from tape The Britney Spears Experience II Play Video
- Oops!... I Did It Again Play Video
Main set closers, show closers, encores played.
This feature is not that experimental anymore. Nevertheless, please give feedback if the results don't make any sense to you.
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