The self-checkout at the grocery store is one my most favorite things ranking behind girls in white dresses and ahead of brown paper packages tied up in string. You never wait in line, you don't have to make awkward conversation with the cashier, and you can race the guy in the other self-checkout line if he obliges. You also don't have to read the tabloids because you're busy scanning your items. Curse ye, tabloids. I can't understand why people relish in viewing unflattering pictures of celebrities. More perplexing is the story of "batboy" which has been circulating for the better part of forty years. Isn't about time for batboy to become a batman? Holy observation, Robin!
But batboy lives, and so do Kirstie Alley's thunder thighs, and Oprah's sweatsuit. But the story that lives like the Phoenix is Britney Spears. Britney Spears is a train wreck that has been taped and looped, replaying every 15 minutes for the past two years. When she sheared off her signature blond locks, I averted my eyes and loudly hummed "Genie in a Bottle" to myself, and waited for her to just go away. But she won't and "Genie in a Bottle" cannot be sung for two years straight so it is time to break my silence.
As I watched footage of her laying strapped to stretcher, reminiscent of a death row inmate prepped for lethal injection, I felt many things, mostly pity, a little ambivalence. I think most people share these sentiments. But those immediately surrounding the situation saw an opportunity. An opportunity to exploit this clearly troubled woman's catastrophic emotional and physical plummet.
First were the paparazzi, the hordes of paparazzi. So dense were the number of flashbulbs and video that the ambulance attempting to rush Spears to the hospital was kept to a staggering crawl, thanks to the shear number of people in the way. Perez Hilton, a web-gossiper(?) posted a thank you note to Spears the day after her admission to the hospital. Her story on Perez's website gained him 10 million hits. These people, while morally jaded are performing their jobs when they shove cameras in the face of an ambulance rushing an overdose victim to the hospital. As callous and sickening as that may be, it's a paying profession, if you don't do your job, you'll be fired. So I understand it to certain extent. It would be naive to expect anything better from that portion of the media.
I would expect a person like Dr. Phil, to show a bit more class. Instead, Dr. Phil will be interviewing the parents of Britney Spears on his talk show, and has made public intimate details about the situation, notably in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. As low and degrading as Dr. Phil's actions are, I can still see how someone might behave in such a manner. Not all people are boyscouts, and a lot of people are self-serving.
What really bothers me is how interested in this story normal people are. People with no real stake in the story. People who are acutely enjoying the pain and suffering of the situation. It is entertaining to a gross number of human beings. Ultra-reality. And it isn't a fascination reserved only for Britney Spears. When Anna Nicole died, all of the major news outlets had a pre-made video eulogy ready to go for our peeping eyes to see. This captivation is inherently wrong. These are people, not actors on the screen. Britney Spears desperately needs someone with true intentions to help her, not a million peeping-Tom's hoping she's going to die in her own vomit in the middle of the night.
It is utterly appalling and I wonder where we go from here? If Perez Hilton gets 10 million hits when Britney Spears has an overdose, imagine how many hits he would get if she died. How long will it be before we begin to market suffering to the masses? It may sound like an Oliver Stone theory, but this week has proven that it is not so dubious a thought.