In 2017, Radio Disney gave their first ever Icon Award to Britney Spears. This was four years before the November 2021 suspension of her legal conservatorship, held by her father Jamie, but a smiling Britney sat at the front of the audience, her mother on one side, her kids on the other, smiling like someone living their best life.
arious singers belted out Britney’s biggest hits, women younger and newer to fame than Britney, then only 36. When her little sister took to the stage, 10 years her junior and a Disney child star too, if not quite her equal, Britney beamed. Jamie Lynn Spears sang a bit of her older sister’s Till the World Ends and introduced this ‘icon’, her beloved big sister. Britney gasped with delight, and while her sister sang, she mouthed the lyrics of her own song, never letting the mask slip.
That was then. Now, we know there was a mask. More, we know from her social media last July and only last week, that Britney was beyond miserable seeing her sister up there. In July, she wrote of how she hated seeing Jamie Lynn performing “MY SONGS to remixes. My so-called support system hurt me deeply”.
Last week, while promoting her autobiography on Good Morning America, Jamie Lynn said she didn’t think Britney was “personally upset with me about that. Truthfully, I don’t know why that bothers her”. In a Twitter response, Britney said that they were her songs, that she’d worked hard on them and written some of them, and that Jamie Lynn had everything “always given to her”.
The awards show angst is only a detail, however, in a dossier of betrayal that Britney has been dripping all over her social media in the last year. Her dad, Jamie, was enemy number one for so long, but as freedom came into sight last year, Britney turned on the two women closest to her. Jamie Lynn and their mother. He might have been holding all the legal control, but they didn’t do enough, is her line. Worse, they enjoyed the spoils, she has accused, while Jamie Lynn on TV last week claimed that Britney threatened her with a knife.
Jamie Lynn, it should be said, has asked Britney to stop waging this war publicly on social media. But then again, Jamie Lynn has written a book, Things I Should Have Said, a sizeable part of which covers Britney.
It was all much simpler when Jamie Spears was the bad guy, who was perceived as having exploited Britney’s 2008 breakdown to take control of her life and, obviously, her money. Bad dad was the story and it was a nicely black-and-white one, a villain versus an exploited angel and the #freebritney campaign and the 2021 Framing Britney Spears documentary. It was a neat narrative and last November, when Britney was at last ‘freed’, it should have been a happily ever after.
Instead, however, there’s this new war. You could call it a civil war after a war of independence, as those always perceived as being on Britney’s side, her key allies, are now those against whom she has taken up arms. Since being released from conservatorship Jamie Spears has disappeared from the story, like a fairy-tale baddie in a puff of smoke, and instead Jamie Lynn is Britney’s mortal enemy.
Britney has said she should have punched her mother and sister “in the face”. She has refuted Jamie Lynn’s suggestion that she was a great support after her big sister’s split with Justin Timberlake. Britney has said that Jamie Lynn profited from her tragedy.
Jamie Lynn said — again while promoting the book, don’t forget the book, out now — that she tried to help her sister over the years, but that Britney had to “walk through the door” herself.
If Dad stole her freedom, Jamie Lynn’s crime is more subtle but strongly felt by Britney. Jamie Lynn muscled in on her life, her spotlight, the latter which Britney seems to want as much as she knows it has damaged her.
If there was some sort of noble dignity in her struggle for emancipation from her dad, there’s a horrible feeling of unedifying awfulness to the strife between the sisters. It’s like something cathartic, a young woman finally in control of her own life has turned it into a sort of schoolyard cat fight from the bad old days.
There will be no winner, but you have to wonder what Britney believes she gains from all of this. She won’t get back the lost years and she will have broken relationships with her closest family, but it does keep her in the public eye. It’s her familiar place, but not exactly one that has ever served her.