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Perez Hilton Joins The #FreeBritney Movement — Finally Owning Up To His Role In Her Trauma

Photo: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock
Perez Hilton and Britney Spears

Perez Hilton has become an unlikely new addition to the #FreeBritney movement as he tweeted his support for Britney Spears in her bid to end her conservatorship.

The gossip columnist responded to Spears’s bombshell testimony in which she revealed upsetting truths about her mental health and lack of autonomy.

“Speaking so eloquent about the mistreatment that she claims to have received from her father and her team. Wow. Wow. Wow. #FreeBritney,” Hilton wrote.

Perez Hilton has now apologized to Britney Spears.

After his original tweet about the #FreeBritney movement generated backlash online, Hilton clarified his comments in an interview while apologizing for his past.

Hilton now says he takes “full accountability” for his scathing comments and their impacts.

"I know I didn't express myself as well as I could have. I didn't lead with empathy and compassion," he said. "I absolutely apologize and carry deep shame and regret."

He revealed that he sent Spears a private letter last year, apologizing for how he might have hurt her.

Hilton also issued a 20-minute apology in this YouTube video in which he criticized those sending him abuse online.

"I'm sorry to Britney Spears," he said. "I've apologized so many times and i will continue to apologize for my past coverage and treatment of her."

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Yet, for fans of the singer, Hilton’s role in Spears’s mental decline throughout the 2000s was a not-so-distant memory as they demanded he take accountability for his role in the conservatorship.

How Perez Hilton capitalized on Britney Spears’s downfall.

Hilton made his name by scribbling over celebrity photos with cruel comments about their weight, addiction issues, and mental health.

It seems callous to condemn Spears’s father and team for their treatment of the star without acknowledging how the media chewed up the pop star and spit her out into the arms of conservators ready to continue her exploitation by alternative means.

Of course, there are countless reporters, paparazzi, and anonymous sources to hold responsible for the way the media targeted Spears, but Hilton’s capitalization on her troubles is hard to ignore.

Hilton made many jabs at Spears’s rumored drug abuse, her parenting, and her need for mental health care.

He also once made and sold t-shirts with Heath Ledger’s face and a caption that read “Why couldn’t it be Britney?” after the actor died of a drug overdose.

Hilton’s past comments exemplify the culture of shame and exploitation that surrounded Spears during her darkest struggles with mental illness.

Thirteen years after her conservatorship was originally put in place, Spears has now expressed her fear of not being believed if she came forward with her story.

Why would anyone feel empowered to speak to the media who once shunned them in their time of need?

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Hilton had some harsh words for people now attacking him for his behavior toward Spears in the past.

Hilton’s change of heart was an unlikely display of compassion from the normally critical star.

Addressing those fans who are still angry with him in the apology video above, Hilton said, "I have been getting so much hate and bullying from people who were and are upset at how I used to talk about Britney Spears. So my message to all of those people is f**k you."

"It just does not compute," he continued, "that you're going to bully someone for bullying somebody in the past. How does that make you any better than what I did? It doesn't. Thankfully, I fully own how reprehensible I used to be back in the day. I can see it. I can acknowledge it. And i carry with me deep shame and regret."

Spears’s case exemplifies the need for sympathy and empathy between the media and celebrities.

For years, the media pile-on meant Spears was shamed into silence and now, as her story becomes fodder for headlines once again, accountability is needed to ensure the pop star gets the justice she deserves.

Even Hilton, perhaps one of Spears’s harshest critics, has owned up and acknowledged her need for respect and care.

“I think she just needs love,” he said, “Because I cannot imagine the betrayal and the sadness and the emptiness that she must feel believing and knowing and experiencing this total lack of not support."

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her on Twitter for more.