Then, attack Britney Spears. Except for Chris Crocker, just about almost everyone else has at one time or another. Go ahead—have at it—she’s an easy target. For the past thirty-nine years that she’s walked around on this big ball of fun that we lovingly refer to as planet Earth, our planet somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, you know, just like in that renowned Star War opening crawl that begins those movies says, she’s spent just as much time in the spotlight of the public’s eye for her achievements as for her downfalls; achievements and downfalls appealing to the general public in some sickly sycophantic fashion. Go ahead; have at it—Britney’s the low- hanging fruit on the tree of life that virtually anyone can take a swipe at—and get away with it.
Let’s begin with her achievements, shall we? After being born in McComb, Mississippi, in 1981, her family then relocated to Kentwood, Louisiana. By the time she was three she was taking dance classes, and then later as a child, sang in a Southern Baptist church choir. By the tender age of five, while most of us were still trying to master the intricacies of finger painting, Spears began appearing in local stage productions. Now think about that for a second if you will. Five years old and memorizing scripted lines, learning how to hit the mark, to take cues, to emote and project, and all before entering the first grade. Pretty, pretty, pretty impressive, if you think about it long enough. Hands up out there of those of you who can boast those accomplishments in your early youth, go ahead, I want to count just how many of you there are. Oops, I don’t really see many at all.
Then there were the gymnastic classes at Béla Károlyi’s training camp, and voice lessons, the competitions, and talent shows. Somewhere between the ages of nine or ten Britney debuted in an off-Broadway musical, and appeared in commercials. By the ripe old age of eleven Spears was cast in The Mickey Mouse Club TV series along with fellow Mousketeers Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell, and of course, Justin Timberlake. Again, please, hands up out there of all who can claim anything equal to that, please, let’s see now just how many of you there are. I don’t see a lot of hands in the air. Oh, am I being mean? Did I make some of you feel bad about yourself? Well, then excuuuuuuuse me! I’m so sorry.
I imagine I could go on and on all day long and into the night about that girl’s feats, skills, talents, and work ethic. Like signing with Jive records after turning fifteen, then dropping two diamond-certified studio albums in a row. Two of the best-selling albums of all time, and according to Rolling Stone magazine, that title track single, you know the one, “Oops!… I Did It Again”, was the greatest debut single of all time. No, I know what most of you want to hear is about how she cracked up while the whole world was watching. Isn’t that why you’re here? Well, okay then, if that’s what you really, really, really want is to go down that road, then let’s get to that.
Only a few years later, around the time of the release of her fifth album, when she was about twenty-six, Britney’s world (and here I’m speaking strictly metaphorically and thus not be confused with that aforementioned big ball of fun that we all lovingly refer to as planet Earth) began to unravel and fall apart. It was at that point in her life, Spears was involuntarily placed under that now-infamous court-imposed conservatorship. A conservatorship is where a legal decision has been made on your behalf where a conservator, or guardian, has been appointed, regardless of whether this is something you desire or not, to make your daily decisions and manage your finances.
During the years Britney Spears was placed under said conservatorship she lost the right to see her own children, was hospitalized for psych evaluations, was placed in drug/alcohol rehab, remained relentlessly hounded by paparazzi, shaved her head, heartlessly then mocked by the media and the general public, and repeatedly petitioned the courts to terminate that conservatorship. All during this period of her life, when it was claimed she lacked the ability to make simple decisions or to directly access her finances, Britney was still recording, doing concerts, making appearances on television or in films, and was generating millions of dollars of revenue every year; millions of dollars which she could not freely access. It was also when the #FreeBritney movement was launched. Finally, on September 7, 2021, her father was removed as her legal guardian from the conservatorship. Allegations are now being investigated by the courts that her father, the sole conservator, profited quite handsomely in that role over the past thirteen years. But it won’t be until November of this year that the court will determine to permanently terminate the conservatorship, which is now being supervised by a newly appointed independent accounting firm.
All the while the public humiliation never diminished nor ended. Britney Spears was the whole world’s whipping girl, punching bag, and everyone’s joke. Pundits, late-night talk show hosts, and every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sue, Donna, and Betty on social media platforms had a field day making fun of her wounds and woes. It went on nonstop year after year. She was the easiest mark in the entertainment industry to hit. So, go ahead, keep on ripping her to shreds and then make jokes about her life being in tatters. You aren’t being mean, are you? You’re just having a bit of fun at her expense. After all, Britney’s crazy, isn’t she? But there’s something here that really bothers me.
We’re all a little crazy in our own way, right? Each of us possesses our own idiosyncrasies, complexities, peculiarities, and peccadilloes. Don’t you agree? Now let’s see all the hands raised if you agree. Good, apparently most of you do agree with that. Now the following is exactly what bothers me, and what I can’t understand. If you’ve been deemed so damned incompetent by the courts of both law and public opinion, yet you still manage to be competent enough, to plan, prepare, show up and perform your job better than just about anyone else in the business, then who’s the crazy one. Oh please, I didn’t mean to be mean about this, but perhaps it’s those who are casting stones at someone in need are truly the ones who are not just crazy, but just downright cruel, One last time, a show of hands out there, raise a hand if there’s even the slightest chance that someone could’ve been you!