Maybe Chris Crocker Was Right…

(Note: I decided to forgo my usual snarky comments and wacky pictures for this one. Just straight text and personal opinion)

Here’s a question: Why the hell do I care about what happens to Britney Spears?

Here’s an even more important question: Why the hell wouldn’t I?

Like so many other citizens of Earth, I’m transfixed by any mention of Britney Spears and her slow descent into mental hell. Roughly ten years ago I was working in a music store when Spears’ debut album hit the shelves. We knew absolutely nothing about her, as her fame hadn’t yet exploded, but decided to open the album up and give it a spin. It didn’t seem that bad, just mindless pop-trash… I even remember that the copy we opened had a free Britney Spears trading card enclosed; her favorite type of Ice Cream was chocolate chip cookie dough (mine too!).

As the years passed, she turned from an unknown, barely post-pubescent Lolita into a major marketing brand name. Simply attaching her signature or moniker to any product suddenly was a guaranteed seller, not the least of which were her albums. Britney never shined as a vocalist, but rather a package through which fairly banal music was delivered. Cover her with just enough clothing to pass the censors, throw in a few sultry moans and a dance beat, and voila! Superstar! No one, outside of the throngs of screaming tweens left in her wake, took her remotely seriously.

Like most teen stars, Britney seemed to be driven to success at a remarkably early age, in no small part due to the ambition of her parents. They freely and willingly marketed their daughter as a jailbait sexpot to the world, all the while insisting that she had remained a beacon of chastity and a role model for young girls the world over. She wasn’t Britney Spears from small town Louisiana any longer, she was a manufactured commodity sold through MTV and Jive Records to an all-too-eager public. Thus, the dehumanization of Britney Jean Spears began.

Things seemed normal enough, she was all smiles, gracing magazine covers, dating Justin Timberlake and generally behaving quite well for a girl forced into such an incredible spotlight at such a young age. Then, on January 3, 2004, things started to unravel. The media exploded with news of an impromptu marriage to childhood friend Jason Alexander, only to result in an annulment 55 hours later. The entire event didn’t seem like a calculated publicity stunt, but rather the actions of a girl that had clearly never been forced to think through any decision she made… or ever even left with the opportunity to make one.

From there, things just evolved into an endless and ever stranger soap opera played out in front of the world. Her marriage to Kevin Federline, her adoption and then quick denouncement of Kabbalah , her on-again/off-again divorce and her admission to David Letterman that the constant presence of paparazzi frightened her indicated that all was clearly not well for Ms. Spears… a fact that we found somehow irresistible.

I certainly don’t need to rattle off the laundry list of bizarre and erratic behavioral traits that have educated the world as to the inner workings of Britney’s mind, simply Googling her name or picking up an issue of any tabloid will do that in a matter of minutes. What I find more compelling than her own collapse is what amounts to a collapse in my own mind… one that causes me to become and remain transfixed with this woman and her struggles. Often I’ll think to myself, “Why do I care about this enough to stop what I’m doing and read about her latest outburst,” when the more important question should be, “Why wouldn’t I care?” After all, she’s a human being in pain, and that should be worth saving, right?

Unfortunately, we (myself included) just don’t seem to see it that way. The type of behavior this woman exhibits on a daily basis would be enough to toss any “regular people” into a mental institution, or at least a jail cell. However, her celebrity remains the ultimate double-edged sword. It is her fame that allows her to go unchecked and her fame that most likely forced her into this state to begin with.

It’s my theory that we don’t actually see Britney Spears as a person. Since her arrival in the world of pop culture, she has been a product, neatly packaged and provided to us for our own entertainment. With that in mind, how exactly are we to stop seeing her that way and acknowledge that she actually is a living, breathing, three dimensional person? Movies, music, television… these are the only mediums with which the overwhelming majority of people on Earth are familiar with this woman.

For so long she has been a character in our lives, but just that, a character. She has never been afforded the opportunity to be a real person, and as she races toward what only could indicate an eventual demise, the responsibility is squarely on us to bring an end to our obsession with celebrity… an obsession that has now turned us into little more than a bloodthirsty mob. What we lack in pitchforks and torches we more than make up for in cameras and blogs.

We must realize that our actions seriously affect the lives of others. Our insatiable craving for “celebrity gossip” and “candid photos” has gone from “Oh, they’re people just like us!” to “PHOTOGRAPH EVERY SECOND OF HER LIFE!” We aren’t personally stalking celebrities, but instead we’re paying someone to do it for us. Our obsession fuels the tabloids which pay the photographers which destroy the lives of others. To suggest that Britney Spears wanted this, or could just slide out of the limelight and avoid it all right now is as ludicrous as it is irresponsible. Britney Spears never wanted this, she just wanted to sing. Her parents traded their daughter’s soul and happiness for the millions of dollars she’s currently using to kill herself… and we’ve loaded the gun.

To cut what could be an incredibly long-winded rant just a little short, I’d just like to express my shame… my shame on myself. I have actively kept up with this story, viewing it like sick, Romanesque theater playing out for my own amusement. I’m captivated by this character, often forgetting that beneath what TMZ and Inside Edition cram down our throats each night is actually the plight of a scared little girl just doing the best she can with what she has. Yes she has severe mental disorders, yes she’s in dire need of counseling, but what do we do… what do I do? I just sit back and watch, waiting for the inevitable.

Beneath this ever-mounting tragidromedy is a real person, the same as you or I. If you knew this person, you’d likely lose sleep at night with worry for how they might or might not make it through another day. Instead, we focus on these desperate cries for help with cynicism and schadenfreude, figuring that since she has so much wealth and fame, she somehow deserves this. Of course she doesn’t, no one does. Britney Spears is not a fictional character. Britney Spears is a daughter, a sister, a mother and a friend to those around her. She is not on display for our entertainment, she is a lost little girl from rural Louisiana that has broken free of her creators, unaware of how to survive in the real world.

I only hope that before it’s too late, I can break myself of this cruel and sadistic fascination with her downfall. Certainly my personal opinion on the matter won’t serve to call off the dogs or improve her life in any real way, but maybe by doing so and realizing that there’s more to a person than meets the eye, I can actually become a better person myself. I’m willing to start right here by realizing that Britney Jean Spears isn’t someone to be mocked, but someone to be pitied. A little girl in need of our help, a little girl that exhibits everything that is sick and wrong with our culture, a little girl that loves chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream… just like me.

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6 Responses to “Maybe Chris Crocker Was Right…”

  1. jeffffff Says:

    You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Pitied? I admittedly haven’t kept up with this Britney Spears stuff as much as you, I think I checked out when she shaved her head, but there’s no way in fuck that anyone should pity this giggling, idiotic, rich cunt. She is no better than a slutty hillbilly with a million addictions. She just happens to have enough money to not have to give a shit. That’s what this all boils down to, Graham– people with that much money don’t NEED to give a shit. I’m sure she gets tired of the paparazzi every now and then, but if they weren’t around, she would CRAVE it. Along with the drugs and the smell of dollar bills, it’s what makes her life what it is. Every time there’s a new upskirt photo of her getting out of a limo, she probably sells a few albums. I’m shocked and appalled that you would pity this worthless excuse for a person; shocked that you would spend this much time to write about her, and appalled that you sucked me into writing a response. I’m really amazed that you would get caught up in this hysteria enough to write about her. As far as I’m concerned, Britney Spears is a fictional character in a TV show that I don’t watch.

  2. Cory Says:

    The above comment was made whilst flailing around wildly like Kermit the Frog.

  3. Aaron Says:

    Have you heard her talking in her “British accent”? Is that what people do when they’ve finally gone over the edge — talk in a fake British accent? I don’t think I have to explain further…

  4. shane Says:

    I’m pretty sure I know what you mean Aaron and that’s very funny. However, count me among those who feel sorry for Britney.

  5. Brinton Says:

    I got pretty drunk once on a work trip and entertained a good number of coworkers for about four hours with my fake British accent. I just couldn;t help myself.

  6. Aaron Says:

    You know, I think I actually feel sorry for Britney Spears, too. Come back to Louisiana Miss Britney…

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