Britney… (sigh!) I’d like to say that I’m tired of hearing about her and her craziness, but I’d be lying. I watch TMZ.com, read US weekly and pagesix.com. When People magazine splashes her face across it’s pages, I’m the first one to buy. The most recent has a black and white photo that looks similar to a mug shot, declaring that she has been committed. But when the most the most recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine arrived in my mail box this week, I had to step back and think.
Similar to the People magazine cover, Rolling Stone too used a black and white photo of the pop star in crisis. Here her sad face and pouting lips beautiful but cheerless; her face is shockingly honest—void of the insanity that we have become accustomed to in recent months. She looks, well, tragic. The photo conveys what Rolling Stone declares in their sub title: Britney Spears: Inside an American Tragedy. An assertion that is wholly different from anything that would be read in Star or perezhilton.com.
So I read the article. And yes, I get my daily dose of Britney juice. But then I start thinking: American tragedy? Really? Um, not so much. Is the story sad: yes. Does the woman have serious mental issues? Yes. Is it a shame that she’s been taken advantage of by those she trusted most? Of course. But that does not a tragedy make.
To the article’s credit, it does go into Britney’s history as a sex symbol and how that has contributed to a problematic construction of self by the singer. However, none of that stuff happened in a fish bowl. That is to say, very few folks were alluding to how tragic her story was when she was on the cover of the same magazine with pink hot shorts, pretending to ride a children’s bike in 1999. Or when she was hugging a Teletubby two years later or wearing nothing but a men’s white dress shirt two years after that. Long story short: none of us, not even me, were saying how tragic her situation was until last week when her descent into the realm of the insane could no longer be denied.
Perhaps the tragedy here is not her as an individual or even the small circle of people around her. If anything is tragic it’s that her radius of influence is so large that we all are included, yet we also sit on the side lines, waiting for the next episode of Britney: the lunacy chronicles to begin. The focus should be on us, the public, who say how sad it is that this young, over sexualized white woman runs around town flashing her hoohoo yet never calling into question the person who took the photo. Now that's tragic.
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