For years, Britney Spears’s Instagram posts—and the sometimes esoteric captions that accompany them—have functioned much like Rorschach tests for her fans. I first became aware of the #FreeBritney movement when, for example, Spears’s use of an emoticon rather than an emoji alarmed supporters, who thought someone else might be posting on her behalf.
More recently, as Spears mounts a legal battle to remove her father as her conservator and end her conservatorship altogether, some fans and casual observers have taken to worrying that Spears’s posts may be hurting her case. A quick scroll through Spears’s grid will turn up several topless photos, videos of her dancing in bikinis, and meme reposts.
I’d argue that, in a different context, this might all be construed as more or less normal content for the platform. (Semi-nude selfies on Instagram? It’s more likely than you think.) In any case, I see nothing helpful in trying to decode Spears’s social media posts or being overly concerned about the nature of what appears there as far as it relates to her case. Spears cautioned against the same on Monday, when she posted a photo of a fan flying a #FreeBritney flag outside their home.
“I know in my previous post I said you guys know my situation but LET ME CLARIFY ... you only know half of it !!!!” she wrote. “And for a lot of you who say I should be cautious with what I post … I mean if you REALLY THINK ABOUT IT … with what I’ve been through I believe I been WAAAY TOO CAUTIOUS !!!! One day I will live on the edge !!!! One day.”
It’s an unfortunate possibility that, should Spears be released from her conservatorship, many people will use her social media posts—as well as any less-than-flattering public appearances or statements to the press—to argue that she should have remained in her restrictive legal arrangement. Spears, I’m sure, is well aware of this fact. I’m also sure that she considers this a less depressing prospect than continuing to be silenced (and continue to self-silence) forever. Spears, of course, is only human.