I Hate Gossip
Well, Not All Gossip
Do I care why a multi-million dollar, minimally talented, angry young pop star has gone to court to stop her father from controlling her fortune and to end his cruel rule over her as conservator?
Other than a mildly voyeuristic impulse bordering on fetishism and titillation to look in Britney Spears’s underwear drawers and an equally tepid interest in watching the fall of super rich people like her, I have no interest in the story although the N.Y. Times along with every other major media outlet have placed the circus prominently and regularly on their front pages and in their op ed pages. So I guess it’s just me, I must be wrong in feeling it’s a bit perverse to want to know the dirty details of the pop icon’s troubled history of mental illness and the tawdry and dehumanizing controls that her father allegedly placed on her, including forcing her to wear an IUD so she wouldn’t get pregnant and endanger a career that has brought her father riches beyond his wildest dreams.
It brings back memories of other fallen heavenly bodies. Who wasn’t mesmerized by the live action scenes taken by helicopter of a white Bronco speeding down a Los Angeles freeway with live audio of the famous driver, football star, movie star O.J. Simpson, claiming he was going to kill himself because he was bereft because his wife and a friend had been murdered, though he failed to mention he was the killer.
And those sordid “insider” stories about Michael Jackson and his “Neverland” estate where he allegedly molested children and the stories about how his father was a cruel dictator, running Michael’s life until he couldn’t and how this troubled young man went to all lengths to deny his identity, from multiple nose jobs to modifying his voice and then committing the ultimate act of death by a drug overdose.
There were all the reports about how Judy Garland’s munchkin childhood was robbed by those who wanted to make her a star and make themselves filthy rich, regardless of the toll it took on the talented young girl who would escort so many down the yellow brick road of fame and fortune and die of a drug overdose when she was just 47.
We wanted to know if Cass Elliot really did aspirate on a ham sandwich, if Paul was really dead, if Jim Morrison was never dead but is living under a different name in France, if Superman (George Reeves) was murdered or killed himself, why was Carl Dean “Alfalfa” Switzer murdered, did Woody Allen really get aroused and sexually abuse his own young child, did Natalie Wood fall or was she pushed, were the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin suicides, what exactly was that device that was wrapped around David Carradine’s neck when he died?
The freakishness of this is that people really believe that they know these famous people, when all they know are the celluloid snapshots, the world as framed by their PR machines and the stories by the reporters whose editors know full well the value of the news, the more vulgar and the more invasive the better, while failing to appreciate that the subjects are real people who bleed real blood and cry real tears but then again, even that is good grist for the story.
These stories, more appropriate for the dime store tabloids, are a diversion and they are oddly entertaining to watch the melodramas unfold while real people suffer. I’ll go out on a limb and make the startling assessment that nobody cares a whit about Brittany Spears’s travails and whatever pain and angst she is going through. At latest examination, there were 7.4 million Google searches for Brittany Spears, the so-called “Princess of Pop” and best-selling teenage artist of all time. Sounds like the basis of a great bio-pic.
I would rather spend my time reading about matters that matter, like efforts by Republicans to keep African Americans from voting, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, racism in law enforcement, to name a few. But really, maybe reading about Brittany Spears is an innocuous way to get my mind away from the really, really serious, life and death issues of the day. I think it’s called gossip, not exactly a new way to pass the day.
For the many who care, back in 2007, Spears’ aunt died, and a short while later, Spears spent a day in a drug rehab center and then shaved her head, before agreeing that she may need further help in her substance abuse problems. In January 2008, Spears refused to relinquish custody of her sons to representatives of her ex, Kevin Federline. She was hospitalized after police arrived at her house to find her under the influence of an unidentified substance.
The next day, Spears lost visitation rights to her kids and Federline was given sole physical and legal custody of their children. She was committed to the psychiatric ward of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and put on involuntary psychiatric hold under California state law. That’s when the court appointed her father, Jamie, as conservator with complete control of Spears’s assets. It was later alleged that Mr. Spears canceled her daughter’s planned performing residency in Las Vegas because she refused to take her medication and that he had held her in a psychiatric facility against her will because she had violated a no-driving rule.
And to the surprise of nobody, a documentary about Spears’s career and conservatorship, premiered on FX in February 2021.
So if you’ve read this whole blog, I must admit that I feel like Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” who may “protest too much” about how I don’t see the interest in watching the rich and famous fall.