Britney’s conservatorship has been a warzone
Britney’s conservatorship has been a warzone

HT Brunch Sunday Debate: #BritneyBrawl

On the heels of the Britney Spears’ testimony in court, a musician and a lawyer exchange views on the pop star and singer’s situation
By Nisa Shetty, Shrinidhi Rao
PUBLISHED ON JUL 11, 2021 08:37 AM IST

“Labels hold artistes liable for too many things. Britney’s fam was worse”

By Nisa Shetty

Nisa says that Britney was kept like a prisoner for years, wasn’t allowed breaks even when she was ill or allowed to meet her kids
Nisa says that Britney was kept like a prisoner for years, wasn’t allowed breaks even when she was ill or allowed to meet her kids

I feel claustrophobic just reading about Britney Spears’ conservatorship. She was my first favourite singer, Baby One More Time was my first cassette and she was on the first poster I owned. 

Talent management companies and labels have contracts that hold the artiste liable for too many things and all damages are usually borne by the artistes. Even if the artiste is sick, the show must go on.

But Britney’s whole family is in on it. She was kept like a prisoner for years; she wasn’t allowed breaks even when she was ill. Her ‘Domination’ world tour was cancelled by her father because she refused to take the medication forced upon her. She wasn’t even allowed to visit her own children.  

Britney’s conservatorship
Britney’s conservatorship

How do we stop artistes from being exploited? Especially women? Most people in power are corrupt. Even artistes like Sonu Nigam and AR Rahman have called out Bollywood’s music-mafia on social media. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Amy Winehouse were 16 or 17 when they became stars and weren’t able to make their own decisions for a long time. 

Taylor Swift, another star in a legal battle for the rights to her songs, was once asked, “What advice can you give upcoming artistes?” Her answer: “Get a good lawyer.”

Nisa Shetty, 28, is a Delhi-based singer-songwriter, stage director and actor. She was last seen as a finalist on season 3 of the reality show The Stage.

“Our desire to reach our capabilities doesn’t end if we have a mental illness”

By Shrinidhi Rao

Shrinidhi says that Britney’s powerful testimony confirms that she didn’t seem to need any legal guardianship
Shrinidhi says that Britney’s powerful testimony confirms that she didn’t seem to need any legal guardianship

Before the Mental Health Act of 2017, Indian law allowed the appointment of legal guardians for adults with autism, cerebral palsy and/or intellectual disabilities. Through the 2017 Act, adults with mental illnesses can appoint a “nominated representative”. The definition of mental illness has been left broad, with the only requirement being a diagnosis from a qualified medical practitioner.  There is no guidance on lucidity — an extremely subjective but importnt standard to determine the capacity to consent. 

Britney Spears’s powerful testimony confirms that she didn’t seem to need any legal guardianship. In the 13 years of her conservatorship, Britney has put out multiple full-length albums, gone on world tours and met press obligations. This level of productivity is not expected from someone who has a conservator to make decisions.  

California’s guardianship laws have been criticised for being prone to misuse. This is a worry public health experts also have for India’s mental health law of 2017. The capability approach to human rights believes that ensuring the right to health will allow individuals the freedom to increase their capabilities. Our desire to reach our capabilities as human beings doesn’t end if we have a mental illness.

Shrinidhi Rao, 29, is lawyer with experience in public health and human rights advocacy for gender and sexual minorities.

From HT Brunch, July 11, 2021

Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch

Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP