Britney Spears Insisted: The Court Punted, as Does the Dad in a Trailer Park
by Bruce Piasecki, author of Doing More with Teams: the New Way of Winning
In my opinion, Britney Spears has received a bum deal.
Last week, her 23 minute traumatized self-disclosure revealed a systemic bias in the California court conservatorship over her life. It is worth retrieving. Dramatic, uninhibited, ripe. You can sell a dozen tabloid stories from it.
OVERALL MESSAGE ABOUT TEAMS: It takes teams to be this repressive and wrong-headed. While we now know it takes a village to raise a child, it seems to only take one court to abuse a young adult over decades. I will send this essay with some serious uncertainties, as I am judging this story from the outside. I respect the law, its open process. But why all the secrecy until now?
While both of the last two judges presiding have been credentialed competent female leaders, the structure of her situation is what is worthy of our serious scrutiny at this point.
- Is this bias against a woman performer? Like we saw with Tina Turner.
- Is this bias against a former “mental” patient, like we saw in certain cases.
- The Paradox: You can serve your time in prison for misuse of lethal guns, be a dangerous drug dealer on a plea to get the bigger dealers, and still warrant an appeal. But “mental” patients, especially famous women, in history, seem to me to get a shorter stick.
Let’s keep this in perspective. As a social historian, I am not referring to those social legends like Joan of Arc, reconstituted into heroes by Mark Twain and all time. Those are made into legends by the dominant culture, and often in retrospect. But what is the dominant culture up to in this case? I am not sure.
FINANCIAL AND EVIDENCE-BASED CONCERNS
Instead, I am talking about a woman worth 60 million, who the court monitors and enforces her personal spending to be less than $2,000 per week! You would think that access to more of that 60 million should help her build a reconstructive team outside this court mandate. And outside the control of her domineering father.
VALERIE MACON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES; NICK UT/AP
Is it not possible for the 39 year old to select a new guardian? Date new men or lovers, and make something new of her situation?
You may think, if you are striving to make ends meet like my Mom after my father’s death, that $2,000 a week (just over six figures a year) is outrageous. It is not, especially in Hollywood. For in today’s dollars, in a world where it is clear that her performance schedule over the last ten decades is damn demanding, it is not outrageously large. She is being underpaid. Vividly.
In fact, it is wrong that she has this maintained weekly stipend, metered out under scrutiny. Look over the evidence, and the public money trail in sales receipts. Only a few concerts were cancelled for constructive rest! (See my prior entry on Medium.com where I argue that we are killing by overwork those like the tennis stars “asking for a mental break.”) Under these terms, she should be getting hazard pay bonuses to prevail and to keep performining like she has in her latest gigs. Week after week after week.
Britney Spears may not be frugal, but certainly it is economic tyranny to make the earner on top of the team of support pay for both sides of the legal debate (and her father’s lawyers are much more demanding and demanding than those used by Britney to press her case). Yes, you read this right. By some contortion of the law, she under the constraints has to pay for her Father’s legal fees! All of them, for decades so far.
I would bet that if someone researched the spending history that should be worth more than 100 million by now, should everyone on the payroll be scrutinized by new stewards.
From the record, her father does not sound like he is easy on Britney. Is he the wealth generator? Does he deserve what he gets? Who is counting?
You all have probably heard the 13 second version, or the Tweet, of her institutionalized predicament. “The Pop Star Wants Her Life Back In Plea to End Father’s Control.”
1. Is this a case of state-supported parental abuse? It looks that way by the verbal records, but what is the legal evidence being used?
2. We may never know being outside the sealed deliberations.
SEARCH THE HASHTAG #FREEBRITNEY AND SEE HER FANS ALARM
As a court should make decisions that are financially-material, decision-useful to the lives in question, cost-effective, and evidence-based, I’d like to say in my “outsider” mind-set, the State is wrong. I have argued above that the court decisions, and family implementation (telling her what colors she must use to pay for her kitchen cabinets), is not cost-effective, or financially material.
That is the key to open this case to the light of more public scrutiny. But what is the essence of the evidence used against her? And what kind of team can be reconstructed — in the absence of her father and his lawyers — to make more useful decisions?
Read the facts as reported in New York Times, Financial Times, CNN and FOX. The legal authority over her life as a 39 year old adult is distorting her freedom.
Add this to the pile: She is told not to marry, and not to have a child, while her biological clock ticks.
In addition, who she dates is not in her control. Who she hires?
Furthermore, in the court of public opinion, the broadcasted behavior of the father is all wrong, very wrong indeed. Right now, he has moved himself back to a trailer park, not meeting with her representatives. Perhaps this move is suggesting a 23 minute squeal is timely and legitimate.
WHEN DOES THE STATE HAVE THE RIGHT TO INTERVENE?
I wondered this myself since age ten. I am prepared to say that sentencing guidelines of criminals are sensible to me. But what about family intervention measures and norms?
My mother took in a series of Foster Home Kids from the New York State Foundling home. I have lived experiences in this area, and can thereby, care about Britney. I’ve been thinking about all this for years; it is no longer painful for me to remember how traumatized my foster brothers appeared when they were being visited in my backyard by their “drug-enriched” fathers. Edwin Torres was hyper-kinetic through high school, from birth, because he was born to a mother on heroin.
But let’s put that in the context of Britney Spears. She is being drugged by the court and her father to keep performing.
Who is right here? Who is being wronged? I find it an absolutely fascinating case study. I can see the movie now.