Friday, May 19, 2006

Defending Britney

I don't care for Britney Spears. It's no big secret that I think she's just a pretty girl who had a smidge -- a very small smidge -- of performing talent who got seen by the right people at the right time and had the appropriately pushy stage mother to convince her that she wanted the fame, too. And the package was sold to the preteens of the nation and lo and behold we had ourselves a superstar. We can hardly complain, I think, when we're the ones who buy into the crap -- even if we just purchased the cds and posters for our children. We could have just said "No" and moved on, told our kids to listen to U2 instead, but instead we encouraged them to feed on the frenzy that was Britney. So Britney is what we all made her.

Indeed, there are a great many of my female contemporaries who even went through a bit of a phase circa 2002 when it was a kinf of subversive pleasure to listen to Britney Spears and watch Crossroads and sing along to "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" (you know it's on my iPod!) and follow her relationship with Justin Timberlake (another guilty pleasure) in the tabloids. And even the song "Toxic" was always more popular among young adults and gay men than it was with the preteen and teen crowds (in fact I've never actually met a high schooler who will admit to liking Britney).

And it shouldn't have come as a big surprise that Britney eventually turned 20, and then 21, and was therefore no longer a teen pop star but basically, officially, a woman. So I have to wonder -- why is it that the rest of us get to start acting like women somewhere around the age of 21, maybe 22, when we graduate from college, but Britney was demonized for it? Sure, she looked a bit sluttier than most of us, but have you ever been to a night club on a Saturday night? Her entire life was a night club -- surely she was entitled to dress like a ho now and again.

One has to assume that the life of a superstar is pretty fucked up. Body guards around all the time, people doing your hair, your clothes, your schedule, everything -- you just go along with the flow of it all and try to say and do all the things you know you're supposed to say and do. It's nothing like real life, where we go to work, drive our own car through rush hour traffic, sit around and watch tv or maybe go out with friends once or twice a week, eventually meet someone and maybe get married, and then start a family. And through it all, no one wants to take pictures of us except our family, and no one wants to interview us and get our opinion on random world events or on other people or whatever. No one makes money off of us in this way, so we don't get bombarded as we exit the local 7-11 following a Super Big Gulp run, and no one follows us into Foley's so they can detail our clothing purchases for next week's issue of Star magazine. No one chases us down a highway as we're driving our children to school or soccer or wherever it is we drive them, telephoto lenses hanging out the windows trying to get shots of us and our spawn. It's jacked up.

So it's not hard to understand why Britney latched on to the first man to feed her a line about wanting to spend his life with her and have a family with her. I'd be willing to place money on Britney wanting to be a better mother than her own, not pushing her kids into show business -- even if it's just a subconscious wish. Yeah, Kevin Federline's a loser with a shitty track record, and Brit's let herself go. I suspect it's our displeasure with our own meager existences that make us so judgemental about her taste in husbands and her bad hair days and puffy complexion -- we can't have our icons looking just like us.

Which brings me to Britney's parenting skills. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that they are as good as any other first time parent. Who among us didn't have an incident with our infant in which we either dropped it or hurt it in some way, totally unintentionally? In Daniel's first two weeks of life, I practically cut off one of his fingers trying to trim his insane fingernails (I do exaggerate, but there was a lot of blood involved); and I also bashed him in the top of his head with my elbow when I had laid him on the bed next to me after a feeding. On another occasion, when he was about 6 months old, I made an unfortunate shoe choice -- platform slide on clogs -- and as I carried Daniel out to the car in the garage that morning, I lost my footing going down the little staircase and totally bit it, with him in my arms. Luckily I had the presence of mind to turn myself as I fell so that I didn't fall on top of him, and I held onto him for dear life so he wouldn't crash to the floor. But yes, I stumbled and fell, dead sober, with him in my arms.

My own parents had an incident with a restaurant high chair in which my younger sister slid down and nearly got choked by the seatbelt. My own best friend had her young infant roll herself off the top of a king size bed when she'd turned her back for a couple of minutes. And I can count on one hand the number of parents I know (including me) who bother to take the time to have their car seats properly and safely installed, let alone keep their infants riding rear-facing until they're a full year old. I know I was tempted to turn Daniel around when he passed the 20 pound mark at 8 months old because the larger car seat just fit in the car better forward-facing -- the only thing that stopped me was the fact that my own parents are trained car seat installers who would never have allowed such a thing.

I would hazard a guess that a first time parent's nerves are magnified a hundred-fold when her every move is scrutinized by paparazzi and an insatiable American public. If it were me, the whole thing would make me clumsier, even panicky. I would probably freak out if being chased with my kid in my arms and jump into my car for a quick getaway without taking the time to get the kid into a seat.

Frankly, I would just start to stay home so no one could watch.

Anyway, the point is -- I think everyone should probably worry about their own damn parenting skills and their own damn marriages, and spend a little less time getting up in Britney's grill.


melissa said...

This is seriously getting annoying. She's a first time parent and she's still young. She's going to make mistakes. What parent doesn't at some point? And lots of them, especially with the first. It's a learning experience for sure.

My mother broke my sister's leg when she was like 7 months old. She couldn't even walk yet. My mother was walking down the street to come get me from a neighbor's house, carrying my sister on her hip, when she slipped on some ice and landed on my sister's leg. She was afraid she was going to be brought up on charges or something. Can you imagine if that was Britney? The "press" would have a field day with that.

I don't like her that much, but give the poor girl a break. Seriously, people.

Georgias Maximus, Feline Esq. said...

So don't buy the rag...

Shannon said...

Oh no -- this is what passes for news on both the local and national level these days... there were no rags involved in the making of this rant...

S.L. Peterson said...

Yeah - I saw the news on freaking CNN the other day that she *almost* tripped and fell while holding the baby. So what!?!? What parent can say they were NEVER clumsy after the day they gave birth?

Not that she's my favorite person, but seriously. Who cares?

Kate G said...

Shannon, you shold be the next Andy Rooney! You need to publish some of this stuff... You are so talented.

Amazing that this is "news"....