Friday, February 23, 2007

Be Kind to Britney Spears

The blogosphere has been having a good time with Britney Spears' latest troubles. Hell, whether or not she is currently in rehab is a paradox on par with Schrodinger's Cat. Well, okay, I'm exaggerating a little bit.

Still, Rebecca Traister, writing for Salon, is calling us out on our meanness -- and she's right.

Enough Britney bashing already

The celeb we love to hate is self-destructing before us all. Maybe it's time to realize that Britney Spears is actually a human being for whom things aren't going very well.

By Rebecca Traister

A question: At what point will people notice that the Britney Spears story has become rapidly less funny?

While tabloid press stalwarts -- I'm looking at you, Andrea Peyser -- have been reluctant to curtail the guffawing and censorious finger-wagging that began when the singer spent the holidays flashing her cooter and kicking off a three-month bender, the ribaldry surrounding her unraveling is beginning to feel extremely tacky. In fact, this week's Spears news was so grim that you could practically hear the national laugh track fading to a few awkward giggles.

Rosie O'Donnell has renewed her offer to adopt Spears (in free verse, naturally); Gwen Stefani has expressed her desire to "scoop her up and give her a kiss"; late-night comics are pulling their Britney punches. It seems to be dawning on at least some people that the 25-year-old mother of two is actually a human being for whom things are going very badly.

Spears has taken a semester-long descent into addled behavior: A typical night might include a lie to her young sons' minders about how she's just popping out to the drugstore, a trip to some clubs where she gets so looped that she decides she must change into the ill-fitting bikinis worn by the waitresses, a substance binge that lasts until she vomits on herself, and, in a boot-and-rally move worthy of the Delta Tau Delta brotherhood, some 5 a.m. phone calls about what venues might still be open for her continued partying pleasure. All of this has been conveniently captured on celluloid for the perusal of the public.

Last weekend, things took a darker turn when she checked herself into rehab in Antigua only to beat a hasty retreat the next day, heading to a salon where she shaved her own head in full view of cameras and then melted into bald and tearful fretting about how her mom would be so mad. Spears then got a pair of lips tattooed on her arm and a black-and-pink crucifix on her hip; some outlets reported a middle-of-the-night visit to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, but whatever may or may not have happened there, she was awake the next morning by 10, when she reportedly appeared alone at the pool at the Mondrian Hotel to sunbathe, drink mojitos and ask fellow guests to trade bathing suits with her.

Among the most pitiful of the recent Britney stories has been the Daily Mail scoop that Spears, whose funds have reportedly been cut off by her family, attempted to rent a room at the Mondrian armed only with a scrap of paper with half a credit card number scrawled on it. When denied, she reportedly bayed, "Nobody wants me anymore." On Tuesday, Spears checked herself into rehab at Promises in Malibu, only to check out again the next morning, making a beeline for another tattoo parlor, which was (thank god for small mercies) closed. But by Thursday, Spears had decided to give rehab the old college try once more, reportedly averting an emergency custody hearing with her ex by checking into a program that is supposed to keep her for 30 to 45 days.

Read the whole article.

It's easy to forget that celebrities are human beings. Britney is a mid-twenties young woman whose life has come apart at the seams over the past few years. She was once the reigning goddess of pop music and now, such a short time later, she is the mother of two, slightly overweight, and getting divorced from a white trash husband who cheated on her.

I doubt she has the inner strength to weather such a storm of events. So then there are the drugs and alcohol and the [reported] need for constant reassurance of her sexuality. She's a kid thrown into an adult world without any of the life experience that prepares one for these things. And worse, she likely has been so protected and coddled that she is really little more than an adolescent girl -- with all the insecurities and fears that go with that age -- in a woman's body.

We have been mean-spirited in picking on her. She is a human being in extreme pain. While it's easy to say she deserves whatever she gets, or that she is so rich we shouldn't feel sorry for her, the reality is that no one deserves this kind of suffering and ridicule.

I hope that she can find some peace and an end to her suffering.

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