I was not a Britney truther—at least, not at first. Just like the rest of us who were MTV’s prime demographic during her heyday (and, in quick succession, her downfall), I knew Spears; my well-worn CD of Oops!...I Did It Again! was a marker of my casual fandom. But, by the end credits of the New York Times documentary about her conservatorship—and the media’s role in its implementation—I was a mascara-streaked mess. When news broke a couple months later, in November 2021, that Spears had won the drawn out legal battle that would reinstate her own control over herself and her estate, she summed it up in a single hashtag that I felt in my cells: #FreedBritney, a statement that hadn’t been true since 2008.
As Spears’s story moved from a fan-based movement to the subject of documentaries like the Times’ Framing Britney Spears, she became more than merely another pop music mainstay. She became a symbol of patriarchal control gone too far—and the systemic sexism that allows it to happen. Every woman who’s ever been talked over, told what’s best for them when they know differently, or had to carve a path away from those who were meant to love them the most, felt seen—at least a little— in Spears’s story. She was a totem of resilience, endurance and being misunderstood. (Does this put too much pressure on a woman who has had no autonomy for over a decade? Most likely—but still, it’s where we’re at.)
And while Britney’s 40th was undoubtedly a celebration (it came less than a month after the court’s decision) ongoing messiness from her family—both in and out of court—probably meant it wasn’t the blowout bash the Princess of Pop deserved. (In the time since the court’s decision, the tabloid-esque coverage that plagued Spears in the 2000s has returned, her sister released a tell-all book Spears says is full of falsehoods and the money drama between relations continues.)
Filed under better late than never, Halifax is here to fix that, throwing her the ultimate from-afar fete for her 41st this Thursday, December 1, at The Seahorse. A mix of drag performance from some of the city’s top royalty (including Zara Matrix and multiple Best of Halifax Readers’ Choice Award winner Elle Noir) and live DJ sets focussing on Spears’ catalogue mark her next lap around the sun—one that, hopefully, is free from outside interference and big on joy.
I, for one, will be ringing in her next chapter in the crowd, my best frosted blue eyeshadow in tow. She deserves it.