Being a pop star is practically impossible. They have to look perfect and sing perfect and dance perfectly. Being even mediocre at one of those things is hard! And no one’s had it harder than Britney Spears. She’s gone through the arduous emotional and physical labor of making pop music (I know that reads sarcastic but honest to God it is not — we all know art is hard.) And not only has Britney spent decades doing that work, but she’s also done it while simultaneously going through some truly dark shit in front of the entire world.
And now, after all that, it sounds like Britney Spears’ career may be coming to an end. But here’s the thing — it was her manager who dropped that news, not Britney herself. There sure seems to be something strange going on with Britney, her family, her manager, and an ultimately very strange and seemingly unfair court ruling.
Read on to find out why Britney might be stepping away from performing, and why it’s all so fishy…
Britney Spears has been entertaining us for decades.
It all started with “Hit Me Baby One More Time”.
Ooh baby baby, how were we supposed to know… that this would be only the first of many iconic Britney songs? Good god was this thing ever a banger.
Then we moved into the “Toxic” era.
To this day, when I hear this song, I will get up and dance, even if there’s no dance-floor around for miles. (It was an uncomfortable experience for everyone when it came on in my therapist’s waiting room.)
And we refuse to let what is objectively the best Britney Spears jam, “Lucky,” be forgotten.
What’s crazy about this song is that it’s about a girl named Lucky, who everyone believes is, in fact, lucky. But when you find out that Lucky doesn’t consider herself lucky? I cry every time.
Most recently, Britney had a residency in Las Vegas…
Ah yes, the Las Vegas residency. Since there are only about 45 people who live in Las Vegas, with the rest of the people milling about the strip being tourists, you get to perform the exact same show every night. Las Vegas truly it is the gold watch; a way to say “thank you for all your years of service” for pop musicians.
Until she didn’t.
Scheduled to start on February 13th, Britney let fans know she was putting her new show on ice. Everyone who bought a ticket got a refund, but there was no announcement at the time as to why the show was off.
And now, Britney’s manager, Larry Rudolph, is talking about why.
Speaking to TMZ, Rudolph said the reason for Britney’s departure was that her “meds stopped working” and that she was “distraught over her dad’s illness,” referencing Britney’s father Jaime Spears’ recent and very serious colon rupture. Rudolph went on to say, “I don’t want her to work again ’till she’s ready, physically, mentally and passionately. If that time never comes again it will never come again.”
It sounds like Britney’s performing career could be over.
“From what I have gathered,” Rudolph went on to say, “it’s clear to me she should not be going back to do this Vegas residency, not in the near future and possibly never again.”
And while it is refreshing to hear about a performer doing what’s best for themselves and their mental health…
Sometimes, you have to just give up on the limelight and focus on what makes you happy. And we know Britney knows this not just because she’s seemingly taking these steps to take care of herself, but also because it’s exactly what Britney wanted Lucky to do in “Lucky.”
… something about this does feel a little… off.
Look, we all knew deep down that Britney Spears is a human being and that human beings have limits. But Britney wouldn’t just walk away and tell us through some arbitrary guy, would she?
Why are we hearing this from Larry Rudolph, and not Britney herself?
Now, I’m no PR guy, but usually, when you’re a massively popular public figure, you relay messages like, “I’m going to stop doing this forever” yourself. Isn’t that who the fans would want to hear it from?
But Britney doesn’t have a lot of control over her own life right now.
I’m sure that, if Britney really were going to walk away forever, she’d want to reveal that info by sitting down with Ellen or Jimmy Fallon or Fortnite streamer Ninja. But the truth is, that decision may not be up to her. To understand why, we’re going to have to take a look back at Britney’s past…
Even more so than the average celebrity, Britney’s personal life has been part of her narrative since the beginning.
To a certain extent, being a celebrity means living your life in front of the world, and that means airing your dirty laundry out in the open for everyone to see. Britney Spears, I’d argue, has had to do that more than most pop stars.
Like, I don’t think I know anything about Christina Aguilera’s personal life.
Why doesn’t Christina Aguilera’s drama ever make TMZ? I want to know all of it — who was she dating in 2004? What’s her favorite drug? Which of her fellow teen pop superstars did she hate the most? (My money’s on Mandy Moore.)
But Britney’s on the opposite end of that spectrum — we’ve seen everything.
I know more about the drama in Britney Spears’ life than I do about the drama in my own life! (Although that is because I have anxiety and think there’s about to be more drama in my life than there ever actually is or will be. C’est la vie.)
Remember when Britney was dating Justin Timberlake, and then they broke up and he wrote a song that was very clearly about her?
My guy Timberlake didn’t even try to hide it! The girl in the “Cry Me a River” is so clearly supposed to call Britney to mind that the casting call probably said, “Must look good in sexy school girl outfit and in red plastic jumpsuit.”
But since her now-infamous 2007 head-shaving and umbrella-bashing incident…
What a tough thing this was to watch. You shave your head, cool. You attack a paparazzi with an umbrella? Less cool, but I get it. You do them both? Something’s gone awry.
… Britney’s been in a conservatorship with her father, Jaime Spears.
That means a court-appointed conservator — in Britney’s case, her father Jaime Spears — acts as a legal guardian, giving them control over a number of aspects of her life. According to Forbes, that includes “whether to get married, to perform or live in Las Vegas, or even if she can drive a car.”
The postponement of the Las Vegas show does seem to solve one of the central tensions over the conservatorship: if Britney is not healthy enough to live her own life…
Obviously, Britney Spears is an adult woman, and adult women can make choices for themselves. But if she was a state in which she could hurt herself, a conservatorship could make sense.
… how is she healthy enough to perform in Las Vegas?
It doesn’t make a ton of sense to put people who you feel may be legitimately capable of hurting themselves in the position to do an elaborate and taxing on-stage performance night after night.
The worry is that those in charge of Britney’s life aren’t concerned with her…
… so much as they’re concerned with keeping the money coming in. It’s one of the few things that would explain the decision to take over an adult woman’s life while simultaneously pushing her out on stage, the highest of high-pressure situations.
That concern, along with rumblings that Spears is pushing hard to end the conservatorship…
There have been a number of stories suggesting Britney is ready to take control of her own personal life again.
… has given rise to the #FreeBritney movement.
Started by the Britney’s Gram podcast, the #FreeBritney movement has seen fans demanding Britney be given back her agency and that she be allowed to live her own life again.
This tells us that, at their core, Britney’s fans just want what’s best for her.
It’s one thing to like a celebrity and listen to their music and follow their Instagram, but Britney’s fans aren’t just doing that. They heard something shady was potentially going down in her life, and they went online to demand her personal well-being be taken into account by the United States court system. This shows they care about her as a person, not just as an entertainer.
And Rudolph’s comments today indicate that he feels the same.
Every single thing that Rudolph said to TMZ seems to come from a place of looking out for Britney’s mental health, and that should really be the position of everyone involved in this case.
At the very least, everyone, including Britney herself, seems to be in agreement that the Las Vegas residency is not the cards at this moment.
To take everyone at their word, Britney Spears is right now dealing with a family crisis and needs to step away from performing. No one can argue with that — it’s absolutely the right move.
And if this is the end of Britney’s performing career…
Which, officially, would be very sad! How many kids born today will never get to see Britney hit them baby, one more time, live and in person?
… it’s been a long and incredible one.
Britney’s been in all of our lives for a very long time, helping us through break-ups and toxic relationships and being overwhelmingly famous but also sad at the same time.
It sort of feels like it’d be good for Britney to leave this open-book public lifestyle behind.
Spending so long — almost 20 years — in the strange fishbowl that is celebrity isn’t good for anyone. And while I certainly hope that whatever’s next for Britney is what is really, truly best for her, I can’t help but feel like maybe none of us should ever find out what exactly that next step is? We know too much about Britney’s life as it is.
As one super-fan and countless memes have been demanding for years, maybe it’s time we all just…
Truer words have never been spoken. Er, shouted. Under a blanket. Through tears. Into a webcam.
Okay, it’s a very specific situation that needed a lot of caveats. But tell me I’m wrong — have truer words ever been shouted under a blanket through tears into a webcam? Didn’t think so.