“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)
Disney Eviscerates Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” Lawsuit as “Callous,” but Report Suggests Emma Stone and Emily Blunt May Follow Her Lead
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in an uncharacteristically blunt statement that was heavily criticized online.
Johansson/Disney Lawsuit Gets Bitter
Disney has described a recent lawsuit from “Black Widow” actress Scarlett Johansson as “sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” but Johansson may have just unleashed what is to become an even bigger legal challenge for the House of Mouse.
At the center of this dispute, Johansson alleges she lost $50 million because Disney opted for a dual streaming/theater release of “Black Widow,” which debuted in theaters and for $30 on Disney+ with Premier Access earlier this month.
According to Johansson’s suit, her contract with Disney — which was negotiated prior to any hint of a pandemic — stipulated that “Black Widow” would see an exclusive theater release. Notably, the actress also said her contractual bonuses were tied to the movie’s box office performance, which is an extremely common practice with films featuring A-list celebrities.
Of course, when the pandemic hit — like many other industries — movies were upended. Pandemic-related changes meant that despite having an initial release date of May 2020, Marvel fans wouldn’t get a chance to see “Black Widow” for over a year.
Still, Johansson said she tried to contact Disney to renegotiate her contract prior to the film’s ultimate release, but she claims the company was unresponsive.
On Thursday, she then filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, with her attorney arguing that “Disney has enjoyed the benefits of having one of Hollywood’s top actresses promote its wholly owned subscription service at no additional cost to Disney, and with the intended effect of taking money out of that actress’ own pocket.”
Later Thursday, Disney claimed that it has “fully complied” with Johansson’s contract and that the streamed release of the film “has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in its uncharacteristically blunt statement.
Are Emma Stone and Emily Blunt Next?
Speaking of blunt, it was reported Friday that both Emily Blunt and Emma Stone may also file lawsuits against Disney’s dual streaming release of their films.
In fact, according to an exclusive newsletter run by former Hollywood Reporter Editor Matt Belloni, Stone “is said to be weighing her options” over the dual release of “Cruella” in May. Meanwhile, he suggested Blunt could also take action or speak out following this weekend’s release of “Jungle Cruise.”
Belloni went on to describe Disney as “notoriously difficult to deal with” regarding such matters and claimed that many have simply been waiting for someone powerful enough to speak out.
Disney Criticized for Its Response
Much of the public perception of the situation has led to overwhelming support for Johansson’s camp. Online, a slew of people lambasted Disney’s response, with many calling it a deflection.
See what others are saying: (ScreenRant) (Newsweek) (Variety)
Candace Owens and Logan Paul in Talks to Debate
A spokesperson confirmed to Insider Wednesday that the two have had “productive” conversations about the prospect offline.
Candace Owens Challenges Logan Paul to a Debate
Right-wing commentator Candace Owens and controversial YouTuber Logan Paul are in talks to engage in a political debate. Yes, you read that sentence correctly.
Owens — best known for making false claims about the George Floyd protests, spreading COVID-19 misinformation, and seemingly saying that Adolf Hitler “just wanted to make Germany great” — first challenged Paul to a debate on Friday. It started with her sharing a year-old clip from Paul’s podcast where he spoke about the importance of fighting racism in the United States.
“It is not enough to be ‘not racist.’ You have to be anti-racist,” he said.
“If you’re white, if you look like me, use your privilege,” he added. “And for those who do not think white privilege exists, you are fucking blind.”
Because merely acknowledging the existence of racism appears to go against Owens’ core beliefs, she asked Paul to duke it out with her.
“Logan loves to challenge people in the boxing ring,” she wrote. “I’d like to publicly challenge him to go a few rounds with me in a political debate. @LoganPaul—how about you stop by my show and explain to me how you’re *checks notes* more privileged than me because you’re white and I’m not?”
Spokesperson Confirms The Two Are in Talks
Paul — best known for launching a boxing career and filming a YouTube video that showed a dead body in Japan’s “suicide forest” — said on Tuesday that he was “perplexed” by the offer, but was taking it seriously.
“I started to entertain this action, I ended up speaking with her, and there may be a future where we sit down and have a civil discourse because I think there’s some meat on this bone,” he said during the most recent episode of his “ImPaulsive” podcast.
The internet star acknowledged that Owens’ main arena is politics, while his main arena is being a “fucking idiot” online. Still, he said he does care about these issues and has a “semi-intelligent brain,” so he thinks he could “hold [his] own.”
“Candace Owens, whether you can admit it or not, is a smart person,” Paul continued. “And so I guess I’m just curious because I just fucking fundamentally disagree with her and again, I think there’s room for a conversation.”
A spokesperson for Owens confirmed to Insider on Wednesday that the two had a “productive” offline conversation and said a public political debate between the two is “very likely.”
“Although both of them disagree on a variety of topics, they are both much more interested in learning from one another and think people would benefit from hearing an honest discussion between two parties rather than a ‘gotcha’ moment that might play well for social media,” the spokesperson added.
See what others are saying: (Insider)
Finneas Slams Billie Eilish Troll Account for Attributing Fake Quotes to the Singer
Eilish’s big brother said the account is spreading “relentless lies” and asked that it at least label itself as a satire account.
Troll Account Shares Fake Billie Eilish Quotes
Billie Eilish’s brother and collaborator Finneas took to Twitter Tuesday to address an account that has been sharing fake quotes attributed to his sister.
The account uses the handle @BilliesUpdatess and goes by the name of “Billie Eilish Updates” in its profile. It was created in July of 2021 and as of Wednesday morning, it had amassed a following of 1,100 people. On a quick glance, it looks just like any other update account a fan might make to share news about their favorite celebrity.
@BilliesUpdatess, however, is far from the standard adoring fan page. Of the over 300 tweets it has posted, several include screenshots of forged articles that make it look like Eilish said something either offensive or totally outlandish. One post claims Eilish defended her boyfriend after he was accused of supporting former president Donald Trump.
“At the end of the day, I fucking love him you know?” the phony statement reads. “It doesn’t matter if he made some homophobic comments in the past, people change. If he [Matthew] supports Donald Trump then I don’t care if it makes him happy. I support EVERY decision Mathew has to make, even the ones some of my fans don’t agree with, like maybe some of his icky comments.”
In another sham passage, Eilish says she thinks queerbaiting “is a really good thing!” In several others, the person behind the account comes up with artificial quotes to make it looks like Eilish is feuding with “driver’s license” singer Olivia Rodrigo.
One post with a fake article ended up being retweeted 12,000 times. That tweet included Eilish claiming she longs to be poor.
“When I got rich, I started balling my eyes out,” the fake piece says. “I wanted to be poor so I can relate to most of my fans. I still want to be broke and poor, it looks really fun and cute.”
Finneas Slams Account
As the troll account started to gain traction, Finneas asked that people report and block it to minimize the spread of its “relentless lies.”
On Tuesday, he responded to a fan that tagged him in the @BilliesUpdatess tweet alleging his sister wanted to be poor.
“Fake obviously,” Finneas wrote. “Honestly I just wish they’d label this account satire like the onion or something. I have no problem with a joke as long as people know it’s a joke.”
The account made several jokes about the fact that Finneas was calling it out, but it seems Eilish’s big brother got what he asked for. @BilliesUpdatess added “parody account” to its bio and the account was deleted as of Wednesday afternoon.