March 3, 2008

On Saving Britney

I just finished reading an article about Britney Spears from Rolling Stone: The Tragedy of Britney Spears. I found it by way of the Burnside Writers Collective blog. At the beginning of the year I made a list of 50 things I wanted to do this year. Not so much resolutions, just things to do. Some are 'serious' while others are silly. One of the things on the list was to read less celebrity gossip. I'll admit I have a weakness for that sort of thing. After reading about a 21-year-old British man who has had seven kids by seven different women, or after reading about another bombing in the Middle East, it's a nice reprieve to read about the escapades of the rich and famous.

But Britney is in a whole different category. She's the biggest moneymaker for tabloid magazines and gossip sites. She has around 20 paparazzi who follow here wherever she goes and will do just about anything to get a picture of her. It's sick. Not just that they are following her and taking advantage of her, but that everyone around her seems to be doing this and she seems on the brink of a complete meltdown. It seems like it's only a matter of time until the Associated Press will be using the obituary they've been preparing (this is actually a common practice for older celebrities--older being the key word). I don't know if our culture's obsession with Spears (and other celebrities) is a sign that we like to watch their downfall so we can feel superior (I may not be rich, but at least I'm not like her...). Or is it just the byproduct of our naive, selfish culture that would rather worry about whether Britney is in rehab than if children in Africa have clean water?

It's all just very sad. It's like the person in high school who you could tell had such great potential, but they wasted it in pursuit of popularity and the temporary and often-fleeting approval of their peers. I don't know what's wrong with Britney--if it's mental instability or if she just needs to be taken out of the spotlight--but the bottom line is that it's sad. And I can't help but believe that the way our society has treated her is one of the many things that we'll be held accountable for. The fact that we crave stories about her public breakdown is just a small indication of much greater problems in our society.

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