I’ve masturbated to Britney Spears.
How many of us haven’t?
Nobody thinks she’s been just another starlet, I hope. There’s always been something different, something exceptional, something terrible about Britney. I’m not sure how many people have come to terms with that.
It’s not that her name was the most popular Web search in the English language in 2000. It’s that her name has never left the top 10 Web searches. It’s that she was the subject of more Web searches than any other woman in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007, when she was 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 25.
That’s more than fame, more than notoriety. This country has a profound and — I’ll say it — mystical relationship with Britney Spears.
I don’t know how it happened. Well, I do. It happened when a 16-year-old put on a skirt, looked knowingly up at a camera and asked it to hit her. It was sick. It was fascinating.
I was six months older than she was. She was sex in sneakers.
I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but something chemical was happening in the zeitgeist. At college the next fall, I watched a performance hypnotist persuade a gay upperclassman to get on stage and lip-sych the entire song “Baby One More Time” for 400 people. He didn’t miss a word. The crowd went nuts.
At the time, I assumed the spotlight would pass. It didn’t. Somehow she stayed on everyone’s lips for the next five years — whenever anybody needed to talk anxiously about American culture, one word was all they needed.
Millions of boys and men focused their desires on her. Millions of girls and women did, too.
Obviously, this went beyond who she was, what she said or did or thought. It was just a turn of fate, but she become, at age 17, enchanted with the sexual energy of a continent.
If we could slip on a pair of magical glasses and watch all of that swirling around her, what would it have looked like? What would it be like to go through a young life knowing — feeling — that you are, on any given day, the object of perhaps a million orgasms?
I’m completely serious.
And when you moved on to become the national avatar of the 20something — wandering, dabbling, yearning, birthing and going through that secret, modest but inevitable sexual decline — what then?
Is it any wonder that the detritus of all those thoughts — all those prayers — would destroy you?
I’ve never bought a celebrity magazine. I don’t read celebrity blogs. I don’t watch cable television. But, in a more fundamental way than others are, I’m complicit.
It seems fitting that when somebody had to pry Britney away from her demons yesterday morning, the job fell to the state.
We thought we would leave this girl behind us as an annoyance, a horror or maybe a beauty. We goofed. We didn’t know our own power.
We accidentally made her a goddess.
I’m so sorry.
-posted by Mike