“I’m so angry. It’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day,” the singer explained in court Wednesday, breaking her long public silence regarding her 13-year conservatorship.
Celebrities Address Britney Spears
Popstar Britney Spears has received a massive swell of online support from celebrities and activists after speaking out against her conservatorship Wednesday, asking a court to revoke it.
Spears had been in the conservatorship, which strips her from controlling her own personal life and finances, for 13 years. While speaking to Judge Brenda Perry in an over 20-minute-long statement via phone, Spears described the conservatorship as “abusive.”
Among other things, she alleged she was not allowed to get married or have another child, as the management behind her conservatorship refused to let her remove her IUD birth control. She also said she has been forced to go on tour, undergo rehab-like treatments, and take certain medications even when she made it clear she did not want to.
“This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” Spears said. “I deserve to have a life.”
Following her remarks, singer Halsey wrote that she hopes the star is “awarded freedom from this abusive system.”
Actress and television presenter Jameela Jamil called Spears’ situation “the most bizarre theft of freedom that has happened right in front of our eyes.”
Spears’ ex, singer and actor Justin Timberlake, also spoke out after the status hearing. Timberlake apologized to Spears earlier this year following the release of the explosive New York Times documentary, “Framing Britney Spears.” The film accused Timberlake of weaponizing their break-up to slut-shame Spears, ultimately contributing to the public pile-on that destroyed her reputation.
“After what we saw today, we should all be supporting Britney at this time,” Timberlake wrote on Twitter. “Regardless of our past, good and bad, and no matter how long ago it was… what’s happening to her is just not right. No woman should ever be restricted from making decisions about her own body.”
Many others used the hashtag #FreeBritney to advocate for the singer. The term is used by the larger #FreeBritney movement, which was started by a group of fans that have spent years advocating for her release. Their engagement helped bring public attention to Spears’ legal troubles.
Activists Speak Out on Reproductive Rights
Celebrities were not the only ones joining forces in speaking up for the “…Baby One More Time” singer. Reproductive and women’s rights activists were vocal about the fact that Spears was not allowed to make her own decisions when it comes to family planning.
“I have a IUD inside of myself right now so I don’t get pregnant,” Spears told Judge Penny. “I wanted to take the IUD out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don’t want me to have any more children.”
“We stand in solidarity with Britney and all women who face reproductive coercion,” Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson wrote. “Your reproductive health is your own — and no one should make decisions about it for you.”
Fatima Goss Graves, the CEO and president of the National Women’s Law Center, said Spear’s case is part of a “broad conversation about the way reproductive decisions are stolen from people with disabilities.”
What Else Did Britney Say?
Spears’ conservatorship falls into two separate categories: a conservatorship of the person and of the estate. Her father, Jamie Spears, was in charge of both until 2019 when he stepped back from her personal conservatorship due to health reasons. A woman named Jodi Montgomery was named his temporary replacement and has been in the role since. He remains in charge of his daughter’s estate, and in 2020 wealth management fund Bessemer Trust was appointed as a co-conservator at Britney’s request.
Wednesday marked her first time speaking out publicly against the conservatorship, though court records reported on this week by The New York Times found that the singer had previously tried to get out of it. In 2016, a court investigator wrote a report claiming that Spears had called the conservatorship “oppressive” and “controlling.”
Spears echoed those concerns in her Wednesday statement. She told Judge Penny that the last time she addressed the court, she felt she was not “heard on any level.”
Spears said she has been forced to go to therapy two to three times a week at a facility where she is frequently photographed and harassed by paparazzi. She added that one of her longtime therapists, who has since died, “illegally” abused her in his treatment, which left her with a phobia of small rooms. At one point, she claimed she was forced to take lithium despite her strong opposition to using the drug. She also said her father forced her into a rehab facility where she was given no privacy, had to work long hours every day with no days off, and was not allowed to see her own children or boyfriend.
“The only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking,” Spears alleged.
“Not only did my family not do a goddamn thing, my dad was all for it,” she said. “Anything that happened to me had to be approved by my dad.”
“He loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it.”
Members of the #FreeBritney movement often speculated that Spears was unhappy in her arrangement. Even though the star had this massive movement in her corner, she would post to social media suggesting all was fine.
“I’ve lied and told the whole world ‘I’m okay. And I’m happy.’ It’s a lie,” she said.
“I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized,” she continued. “I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry. It’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
Spears claimed that for a long time, she had no idea she could petition to end her conservatorship, a subject she rarely approached because she found it “demoralizing.” Now, she is making it clear she wants out.
“The main reason why I’m here is because I want to revoke conservatorship without having to be evaluated,” she stated. “I’ve done a lot of research, ma’am. And there’s a lot of judges who do end conservatorships for people without them having to be evaluated all the time.”
Spears argued that she has already done enough evaluations and therapy sessions, adding that she does not owe her management or anyone else involved in the conservatorship anything else. She also asked to be able to have her boyfriend drive her in his car, and for her therapy sessions to be limited to once a week at her house.
“And I would honestly like to sue my family, to be totally honest with you,” she continued. “I also would like to be able to share my story with the world.”
Spears said she hopes to get the power to hire her own attorney, as the one currently working for her is court-appointed. She said she wants to tell her more of her story either in a sit-down interview or an open call to Judge Perry that can be accessed freely by the press.
Spears claimed that she is not the only person who is being abused in a conservatorship and argued that more needs to be done to protect people.
“I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship,” she said. “If I can work and provide money and work for myself and pay other people — it makes no sense. The laws need to change.“
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Variety) (Pitchfork)
Bruce Willis Denies Rumors He Sold His Likeness For Deepfake Use
Deepfakes face criticism from Hollywood to social media.
Willis Debunks Rumors
Actor Bruce Willis denied rumors over the weekend that he sold his likeness to the deepfake company DeepCake.
Willis agreed last year for his face to be used in a commercial for a Russian telecoms company. For this commercial, DeepCake digitally edited Willis’ face onto a Russian actor. This sparked rumors that Willis had sold the rights to his likeness for the company to use in future projects.
However, both management for Willis and DeepCake itself denied any partnership or agreement for these rights.
“Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” DeepCake said.
Agreements for the AI generation of actors have been heard of before, however. Recently, actor James Earl Jones agreed for his voice to be technologically generated for the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise.
This comes as deepfakes are facing mounting criticism online, including from prominent YouTube personality and author, Hank Green. He recently tweeted about a channel that uses similar deepfake technology and AI-voice generation to parody popular YouTube creators. He stressed his concern that while the channel in question may not be nefarious, this technology could end up being harmful.
“There are ways to do this that would be much worse, more mean spirited, and more exploitative than this,” Green said. “And I’m very worried about what that will look like, because if this is working (and allowed), people will do it.”
Among other issues, Green mentioned these videos could abuse monetization and sponsorship opportunities while exploiting someone else’s face and brand. Green even implored YouTube to evaluate its terms of service as the popularity of deepfakes rise.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (Mashable) (The Telegraph)
Twitch Faces Backlash After Booking Megan Thee Stallion At TwitchCon Amid Creator Pay Cuts
The cut in revenue share has ignited severe backlash on Twitch, where users argue pay for creators should be increased, not slashed.
Revenue Share Shake Up
Twitch users are criticizing the company for hiring artist Megan Thee Stallion to perform at TwitchCon just one week after announcing cutbacks to top creator pay.
Last week, the video and streaming platform said that starting in June of next year, some creators will receive less revenue from their subscriptions. While the standard split for subscription revenue is 50/50, some major streamers previously received a more favorable 70/30 share in premium agreement terms.
Many creators have long argued that everyone should get that 70/30 share, but Twitch took a step in the opposite direction. In the future, streamers with premium terms will only get the 70/30 slice for their first $100,000 from subscription revenue. After that, they will get bumped down to the regular 50/50 cut.
The company argued the move was necessary as the premium terms previously lacked transparency and consistency, insisting it tried to modify the policy in a way that impacted the least amount of creators. According to Twitch’s statement, 90% of streamers on standard agreements will not even be impacted by the change.
Still, this move outraged Twitch users who were furious the company was not investing more in the creators that bring so many viewers to its platform. Those frustrations were exacerbated on Wednesday when the company announced Megan Thee Stallion would make an appearance at TwitchCon, a weekend-long event set to take place in San Diego in early October.
Backlash Continues to Mount
While no details of Megan Thee Stallion’s agreement to perform have been disclosed, one can assume she charges a pretty penny to book at an event of this nature. Critics argued that if Twitch is willing to spend money on her, it should be willing to spend it on its own streamers.
“So Twitch can’t afford to pay their creators 70/30, can’t fix their media player that crashes after each ad, can’t enforce their policies so people aren’t doing inappropriate things on stream, but they can afford paying celebrities to promote their streaming site?” one person wrote.
“It’s weird that a company that just announced a bunch of budget cuts due to infrastructure costs goes out and grabs an A-list musician instead of promoting their own musicians that run on their platform,” another person claimed.
“Instead of giving your creators a cut they deserve when they do so much work, this is what you do…?” one user asked. “Maybe give your creators a better deal instead of wasting their hard earned money on things we don’t even want.”
Twitch has not responded to the outrage, but Megan Thee Stallion was not the only music act the Amazon-owned service booked for the event. Kim Petras and Meet Me at the Altar will also take the stage at TwitchCon.
The backlash comes as concerns have been mounting against Twitch for a plethora of reasons including creator pay, gambling streams, and more.
In recent months, some of the platform’s biggest names have left Twitch in favor of rival services like YouTube Gaming.
“Dahmer” Series Breaks Netflix Records Amid Backlash For Exploiting Victims’ Stories
Family members of some of the murderer’s victims say the program is “retraumatizing.”
“Dahmer” Lands Successful Week on Netflix
While criticisms mount against “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” the true crime series broke Netflix’s record as the most-watched first week for a series debut.
According to data provided by the streaming giant, the Evan Peters-led show was watched for over 196 million hours between its release on Sept. 21 and Sept. 25.
“Dahmer” is the newest of several pieces of fiction and media based on the famous serial killer. Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the series quickly generated a lot of attention online, primarily from those concerned the show is exploiting a gruesome true story.
Critics have echoed those fears, giving the show a mixed 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The “Critic’s Consensus” blurb on the site states that while the show is “seemingly self-aware of the peril in glorifying Jeffrey Dahmer” the story still “tilts this horror story into the realm of queasy exploitation.”
Victims’ Families Speak Out
The family of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims, has also spoken out against the series. In a viral tweet, Lindsey’s cousin Eric Perry said his family is “pissed about the show.”
“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what?” he wrote. “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”
In much of the promotion for the series, Netflix claimed it would be told from the perspective of the victims. Perry slammed that narrative, noting that his family was never even contacted by the streamer about the project.
“So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families’, no one contacts them,” he wrote. “My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”
Lindsey’s sister, Rita Isbell, echoed that claim in an essay she wrote for Insider, noting that Netflix did not notify her of the show, or ask her any questions about her brother.
She said that watching the show “felt like reliving it all over again.”
“It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then,” she wrote.
“It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed,” she continued.
Obsession With Dahmer
Controversy has also grown from some of the responses to the series, as many viewers have posted fan edits of the show that romanticize Dahmer. Some pair clips of Peters’ Dahmer with his victims to love songs or pop ballads, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those who do not understand why someone would make content glorifying the killer.
Others have responded to the show by calling Dahmer “hot” or posting thirst tweets about his mug shot. This has resulted in a backlash of its own.
“Jeffrey Dahmer molested and murdered people, mostly black men and boys,” one person wrote. “So to see people making edits and thirst traps of him is a little off putting.”
“if I see anyone tweeting thirst tweets about Jeffrey Dahmer I’m immediately unfollowing,” another person said. “That’s so fuckin nasty.”
Concerns that this kind of media results in more people admiring Dahmer are also mounting in Milwaukee, where many of his crimes took place. According to TMZ, the city is considering creating something to honor the victims, but officials fear a physical memorial would turn into a “mecca” for Dahmer’s fans.