Can the authorities yield to the pressure of public opinion? In practically all media cases, a parallel trial is created in which we citizens, the media and opinion makers participate. In a few minutes we are able to form a discourse based on speculations and condemn or acquit according to our judgment those involved in the event, who are usually celebrities. When it comes to supporters –or detractors–, the judgment intensifies and pushes towards constant activism which, if it is massive, can end up influencing political, social or judicial decisions. So it was with the ‘liberation’ of Britney Spears.
Since social networks became a popular pastime, our individual opinion has a projection capable of reaching any corner of the planet. Never before has it been so easy to find allies or uncover controversies without even having a profile picture. Nor start the revolution from the sofa at home. Thus arises the ‘fanatocracy 2.0’, or the power of the fans in the digital age, a mobilization for a cause related to an artist who earn credit through what the majority dictates and exerts a devastating influence. If the devil had a lawyer, he would say: Didn’t the devil speculate? fans of Britney about a conspiracy by the family to commit her to a clinic without her consent? How many spent time understanding the opposite version? No matter how many posters the fanatic might have on the wall, none of them is aware of the artist’s private life.
Britney Spears fans will be remembered for freeing her from her father’s tutelage and giving her a voice when she was silenced
Other times, however, the digital fanatocracy contributes to fulfilling the current morality. Fans of Britney Spears will be remembered for freeing her from her father’s guardianship and giving her voice when she was silenced. According to the singer herself in one of her posts after being declared free after more than 13 years of guardianship, “in a way they saved my life”. Among the arguments to strip him of his self-determination and impose extreme surveillance, the constant attacks on the paparazzithe ‘bad mother’ label and her admission to a mental health clinic.
The ‘rescue’ began with the movement #FreeBritney, which emerged from social networks without a leader or spokesperson, without a clear structure, and grew progressively naturally. In theory, it was always a self-financed collective, and followers gradually bought court documents from the case, organized demonstrations and events where they wore banners, T-shirts and even masks with the singer’s face. Its relevance grew even more after the premiere of framing britneythe documentary created by New York Times in which they reviewed the lights and shadows of the famous interpreter of Toxic. Then, hundreds of thousands of hardcore fans wielded their authority online – and took to the streets too – to demand that time had turned the singer into a hostage of her father. They succeeded in forcing a legal verdict to rescue Britney, who was able to celebrate her 40th birthday with no bank account restrictions.
The ‘#FreeBritney’ movement brought to light how the will to fight for human dignity can speed up a judicial decision from the internet
In short, the social movements that are born, grow and reproduce on the Internet are usually, as the sociologist and former minister Manuel Castells points out, spontaneous, interclass and viral; without leaders or parties. The case #FreeBritney brought out the popular will to fight for human dignity and how, user by user, it was possible to speed up the judicial decision. The crowd has shown itself, once again, as a fundamental tool to achieve their demands. Blind faith in the idol or citizen solidarity? Probably, sooner or later someone without a profile picture will resolve this dichotomy on Twitter. For now, Britney Spears has taken back the reins of her life.