Fame has a dark side, and Britney Spears shed light on it

ByDavid M. Conte

Jun 23, 2021

But there was another moment, again captured by a photographers crush, which is perhaps more unsettling.

It was May 2006 and Spears was caught by photographers outside a Manhattan hotel as she struggled to juggle a mug in one hand with her then 8 month old son Sean Preston in his arms.

She stumbled in the process and a photo later, taken through a window, shows her in tears as she holds her son, apparently trying to protect the world from seeing her visibly upset.

It was a time when many headlines were skipped and instead focused on how Spears almost let down her baby while trying to avoid aggressive photographers.

This image of a distraught young mother sinks deeper into the wake of the documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” which debuted in February and provides a glimpse into some of the struggles Spears has faced as a result of this intense – and often dangerous and sexist – media surveillance.

Over the years that have passed, Spears has faced other challenges and experienced new professional and personal successes, all under one blinding spotlight. In the process, she paved the way for the young women in entertainment who followed her and showed the audience that we can do better.

“An edifying story”

In 2008, Morgan Warners, then a contributor to the Huffington Post, wrote an article on Spears titled “Britney’s Fall as a Metaphor”.

He compared a then struggling Spears with a struggling US economy at the time.

“Disturbing as it may be, the Britney Spears downfall saga serves more as a warning to young American consumers,” Warners wrote. “She started out as a cute, innocent little girl, playing fast and free in us asking to hit her baby, once again. Then, oops, she did it again! And U.S. too. Young Americans kept swallowing it up, a sign of things to come when savings rates hit their lowest a decade later. “

This comparison may seem like overkill to some, until you realize what Spears merchandise was and would become.

She went from a child star on “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” to a teenage superstar singer, who then had to manage a transition to adulthood that included marriage, divorce and motherhood in quick succession, attracting millions.

It’s those millions that are now the focus of his nearly 13-year-old count and court-ordered guardianship, which once again has Spears in the headlines.

“The rise of pop music”

When Spears donned a school uniform for her hit song “Baby One More Time” in 1999, she was quickly dubbed “The Princess of Pop.”

It was the year of boy bands with 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys and N’Sync. And while girl groups like Destiny’s Child and TLC were also climbing the charts, Spears brought something different with her daughter next door who isn’t afraid to be a little pissed off.

Young women possessing their sexuality and free will are commonplace these days, but back then it was a scandal – made even more so by a now famous 1999 Rolling Stone magazine cover with Spears.

According to this Rolling Stone interview, the singer arrived on stage at just the right time, writing “Welcome to the new Teen Age”.

“In a distant demographic echo of the post-war baby boom, America’s teenage population has reached the kind of critical mass that forces the cultural industry to sit down and listen. The purchasing power of teenagers is reshaping pop culture, filling our TV screens with teen dramas and multiplexes with teen movies, ”the article read.“ It also set a new pace on the pop charts. , where devotional sprays from boy bands overcame the angst of rock-hard boiling in the early to mid-90s. “

And she continued to appear – in magazines, on the charts, and in provocative music videos.

Spears has paraded her sexual energy in songs like “Oops! … I Did It Again”, “Toxic” and “Gimme More”, so stars like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello may Course.

‘Leave Britney alone’

With this power came a lot of criticism.

During the dark days of constant headlines on Spears’ Spiral, an event occurred that itself helped shape pop culture.

In 2007, a young man named Chris Crocker uploaded a video to YouTube in which he emotionally defended Spears after she was criticized for her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards which was seen by some as lackluster.

He yelled “She’s a human” and took the media to task with a “Leave Britney alone!”

It went viral, (Crocker reportedly sold it as NFT for over $ 41,000 in April) became one of the first memes and started a conversation about fans, celebrities, media, and mental health that continues today.
Reese witherspoon told Time magazine in April that the documentary “Framing Britney Spears” made her reflect on the disparity in the treatment she received around the same time as Spears.

Witherspoon said that while she has also had run-ins with paparazzi, she and fellow actress Jennifer Garner have been called “good” by the media, while Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and others have been portrayed. negatively.

“What if the media had decided that I was something else? I would be in a totally different position,” Witherspoon said. “I mean it’s my decisions or the career choices I made, but it felt very arbitrary to me.”

“Crop Britney”

From her darkness, Spears actually shone a bright light.

There is a lot more awareness and discussion today about the detrimental effects of celebrity on the mental health of artists. His struggles have allowed others to be more open about theirs.

Still, the thirst for information about what goes on behind the scenes with Spears – both by his supporters and bystanders – hasn’t ceased.

Spears has asked to go to probate court about his guardianship on Wednesday, and, perhaps, that will end speculation about his welfare.

She deserves compassion. She deserved it and it’s as much a part of her heritage as her music.

And we are all the better off if we take this lesson to heart.