Do you remember the Britney Mania in the late 90s and early 00s? I sure do. Heck, you ever catch me out dancing in The Old Port pre-COVID (heck, even if you caught me at junior high dances...) I can promise you 80% of my dance moves and confidence came from Britney Spears.

I think for many people currently in their late 20s to early 40s Britney Spears was nothing short of an icon.

I personally can't help but look back at that era with fondness. Boy bands and bubble gum pop, inflatable furniture, and butterfly clips. One of my very first CD's was ...Baby One More Time by Miss Britney Spears. (As well as Creed's Human Clay and WWF The Music Volume 4. I was an interesting child.)

And sure, there was also Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, and Jessica Simpson, but there was still something about Britney that stood out above the rest.

I have been aware of the #FreeBritney movement for years now but it didn't fully hit me until I saw it all out there all at once in the new documentary from The New York Times called The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears.

Remember in the late 00s when all anyone could talk about was Britney's mental breakdown? She shaved her head and took an umbrella to the vehicle of some paparazzi? Back then, it was the butt of every joke and like vultures foaming at the mouth (beak?), we couldn't wait to see what crazy thing she did next.

Now take a step back and look at that time through the 2021 lens. The lens of increased compassion for those struggling with their mental health. One thing's for sure, we'd have a lot more grace, and anyone daring to make light of someone struggling would be canceled almost immediately. Especially when it comes to the beloved Queen Britney Spears.

Imagine dealing with post-Partum depression. A custody battle. Relentless paparazzi day and night. People judging your every move.

Honestly, I'd probably break down too. And I think if we're honest with ourselves, a lot of people would.

In the midst of all of this, it was determined that Britney was not mentally able to make her own choices about her life or money. So her father, Jamie Spears, pushed for a conservatorship to take over those decisions for his daughter. This is discussed in detail in the NYT documentary, but in short, Britney was fully aware this was going to happen and she requested that anyone but her father be granted the conservatorship. That wish was not granted.

At this point, her father controlled every part of Britney's life. Her health, her wealth, and her career, and this has largely remained unchanged over the last thirteen years.

So apparently, Britney can handle a Las Vegas residency.

Judging on X-Factor.

But not her own life.

Does that make you as uncomfortable as it does me?

In one of the more chilling parts of the documentary, one of the co-conservators, Andrew Wallet, asked for and received a raise for his conservatorship. The court documents said, "The Conservatee's business activities have greatly accelerated due to her increased well being and her capacity to be more engaged in furthering her career activities. The next several years promise to be very lucrative for the conservatorship estate...This conservatorship should be viewed more as a hybrid business model." Read that again, someone who has responsibility for someone else's income was profiting off that responsibility. So much so they viewed it as a type of business model. And to the tune of nearly half a million dollars a year, no less.

Also worth noting, Britney has not only been paying for her legal representation but she has also been paying for the opposition. She has been bankrolling the lawyers fighting each other for control over her own money and life. Conflict of interest, much?

I just can't get past the fact that this woman is having every aspect of her life controlled and profited off of and little seems to be getting done about it.

For those who follow Britney on Instagram (@britneyspears), she has long appeared to post odd videos and captions leaving many to wonder if she's hiding cryptic messages and cries for help. A bit tinfoil hat-y? Sure. But the posts after the documentary especially made me scratch my head.

Exhibit A: This is either incredibly bizarre, or she's referencing the documentary on the down-low.

So, why should we care? Take the fame and fortune away, this is a woman who had many of her freedoms taken away by the one person she didn't want to have control. I didn't even get into the fact that Britney's ex, Kevin Federline, put a restraining order against Jamie for abusing their son, Sean Preston. Imagine having someone in control of nearly every aspect of your life also having a restraining order on him after an altercation with your young child?

Make it make sense. We should care that the conservatorship system is truly in the best interest of the individual needing it.

Britney's mental well-being matters and she didn't deserve the scrutiny she got all those years ago. We should all care so history doesn't repeat itself and check ourselves for being complicit in her public tarring and feathering.

I'm also fully aware that we do not know everything. We may never will and we're not entitled to it. However, if Britney truly isn't capable of handling her life choices and finances, can we at least allow her to be comfortable and happy with those who are in control?

To quote viral sensation, Chris Crocker, from 2007,

"LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE"

I really only touched on the highlights of this movement and highly encourage anyone reading this to take the time to watch the documentary The New York Times Presents Framing Britney Spears available now on Hulu.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

LOOK: These Stars Grew Up in Small Towns

80s Child and Teen TV Stars: Where Are They Now?