I think I’m having an out-of-personality experience because I can’t believe what I’m about to write. … Can we all please ease up a little on ol’ Britney Spears?
Don’t get me wrong, I have never been a fan. In fact, I generally try to avoid the whole gossip-porn industry that feeds off of train-wreck celeb-careers like Spears’. And it’s all the carnivorous negativity that’s got me wishing everyone would just give Ms. Spears a little space (and that some handler of hers, any handler, might finally lock her in a room for a while so she can just chill, do whatever she’s gotta do to get her head straight and get the fuck out of the spotlight for a few weeks). There’s a brilliant and compassionate article about this on the cover of Allure magazine, if you need a sane, pre-VMAs take on the Spears’ tragi-tainment fest. (They didn’t post the article but there’s a video about what happened.)
But after watching the opening performance of the MTV VMAs last night (mostly through the hands covering my eyes out of embarrassment for Spears’, um, lack-luster performance) I just wanted to text her a message saying “It’s going to be okay.” (Not that I have Ms. Spears’ number.) Then something weird happened to me. For the second time in my life, I wandered over to TMZ.com. (The site, and those like it, tend to make me throw up in my mouth a little. I think I’m allergic to gossip-porn.) I had a sick need to read what the vultures were already saying into their loud megaphones of meanitude.
And seriously, ouch. I hope none of her handlers allow her near that site for a few days. Or the VMA message board about her performance. Or the New York Post, which posted a story subhead that read “porky pop-tard bores and jiggles like Jello.”
Now I just want to give Britney a hug.
I would say her performance was bad — her lip-synching and dance steps were certainly off — but the critics (and viewers on message boards) are acting like it was a personal affront on all that is holy about pop culture! As if bad performances, bad music and bad fashion choices aren’t an integral part of pop culture. Please! (Can you say Mariah Carey? Whitney Houston? Etc.)
And can I just say that Britney is in no way fat! My God, people! She had two babies and you can still see definition of ab muscles on her so-called fat belly. Oh, and I’m pretty sure when you can see a person’s ribcage, they’re not fat. You know what it is? She wore a bad outfit. (So did Beyonce and Nelly Furtado, but you don’t hear the chorus complaining about them.) And she isn’t an adolescent anymore so get over it. No adult has the body they had as a teenager. Even if you stay the same weight, maybe you have less hair or more or less muscles, whatever. That’s part of getting older. And especially for women after they’ve had babies, their bodies don’t just magically go back to what it was before. Even with a team of physical trainers, nutritionists, etc. Even Uma Thurman looked different after she had a baby and did Kill Bill than before she had a baby.
And I bet you most women in America (and keep in mind we are a nation of obese people) would love to be a Britney kind of “fat,” rather than the real thing which isn’t nearly as appealing in a bikini. Sure, she’s not as tight as she used to be but it’s not like she’s deformed. And people wonder why the average American woman is completely neurotic about her appearance and weight? Look what happens to celebrities who gain 10 pounds! If you ask me, that right there is a cultural expression of misogyny if I ever saw it.
I hate that this is where we go as a cultural collective. I hate that it’s “entertainment” to trash a 25-year-old woman, who’s clearly lost and out of control, like this. Yeah, she’s a celebrity. Yeah, they sort of sign on for the public humiliation when they get the millions for whatever. But hasn’t this whole thing gone way beyond the usual morbid curiosity and crossed over into something more like toxic-stalking for the sake of kicking her while she’s down? I don’t know. The whole Britney circus is just making me want to never turn on the TV again.
Update: For a more concise and eloquent take on this subject, check out this Salon.com opinion piece. (Thanks Minx!)