Britney Spears and the human spirit

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

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10 Responses to Britney Spears and the human spirit

  1. jonolan says:

    The entire Spears bloodline is the single best argument in favor of abortion!

  2. Dana says:

    Mike, I think you get points for the most surprising/shocking opening line for a blog post yet on Geek Buffet. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything at the time, or I would have snorted it up my nose.

  3. Matthew Sayre says:

    I heard something a few weeks ago about her that struck me. It compared her to Elvis Presley, specifically, an example of a musician that fame utterly annihilated. I don’t know if we’ve made her a goddess or an idol (in the older sense of the word). Something a people pour so much into, made of the same base matter as the rest of them, that simply can’t handle it. The destructive force of intense public scrutiny seems to increase the more we admire or love the individual, and if they are martyred on the altar of public gossip we seem to adore them even more.

  4. Mike says:

    Exactly, Matthew! I somehow hadn’t thought of Elvis, but he’s a perfect example of this, too. Any idea where you heard this? I’d love to see how they tried to capture it.

    Dana, I only live for pageviews.

  5. Matthew Sayre says:

    I’m afraid is was just a random comment by a radio show host I heard while flipping channels during a road trip. Could have been NPR, could have been AT40 for all I know. That was the extent of the comment though. It just got me thinking, since I still had hours to drive, about the toxicity of celebrity. I remember wondering at the time if Brittney Spear’s song Toxic might actually be a commentary on the addictive but ultimately destructive nature of fame. She acknowledges in it that the subject of the song is destroying her, but she actually welcomes that oblivion at the same time she condems it. Is fame like alcohol? OK, maybe even good for you, in limited quantities, but mentally poisonous once you pass a certain threshold. Are some people better suited for it then others like some people can hold their liquor better?

  6. Mike says:

    I like it.

  7. Mike says:

    Er, the theory, not the fame. Not the fame.

  8. poetloverrebelspy says:

    I read a recent article about how many performers have addictive personalities/tendencies (the “high” they get from their audience is similar to that from drugs/alcohol), which added to fame and incredible income lends itself to other addictions down the road. A quick google didn’t help, nor did a search of the NYT. Anyone else read what I’m talking about?

  9. The reference concerning Britney Spears attracted my eye. Recently I’ve become a big watcher and can not get too much information or articles about Britney’s life history. Be it hair shaving, provocative videos, wedding breakdowns or just another pop song there is a great deal carrying on around Britney. Shame about the children’s involvement but I guess the money will assist them. The media age is her opportunity for money but will it be her ruin with too much reporting and pressure. In fact I think that this blog entry and my few lines are the selfsame publicity I talked about.

  10. […] not talking about Britney Spears here. We’re talking about Patricia McCaig, a political aide to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, […]

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