Britney Spears & The Anxiety Closet

by Jeff Siegel

I’m really, really trying to get into this Britney Spears business. Really.

But I can’t. And, what’s worse, I don’t care.

She’s in rehab. She’s out of rehab. She is bald. She is wearing a wig. She likes girls. She doesn’t like girls. She’s not wearing underwear. She’s wearing underwear. And what about her poor kids? All of it just makes me want to sit in a dark closet.

I realize this makes me a failure in our post-modern, media-saturated, these-people-are famous, damn it, and stop-being-such-an-old-fogey world. But I can’t help myself. I still think People magazine is silly, and, as near as I can tell, People is the New York Times of the celebrity gossip trade. The rest of them – the TMZ website, the Extra television show, and the various media permutations that use Entertainment in their name – make me want to turn my house into a dark closet. Quick question: Do the people who work at these places enjoy what they do, in the same way their colleagues in the non-celebrity world enjoy writing about politics or football or school board meetings?

And where does Britney’s soon-to-be-ex-husband fit into all of this? Since I stopped listening to the radio sometime during the Clinton administration, I have never heard one of his songs. But, from what I understand, the recent Super Bowl commercial is pretty much the highlight of his career. Even his nickname isn’t much – sort of a dollar store knockoff of A-Rod, as baseball player Alex Rodriguez is known.

Don’t get me wrong. Even I pay attention to celebrities. I’ll never be able to figure out what Susan Sarandon sees in Tim Robbins. I have followed the careers of Uma Thurman, Winona Ryder and Scarlett Johanssen with varying degrees of enthusiasm. And I think that Philip Roth got a raw deal in Claire Bloom’s book. But these people have done something to merit attention – and it’s something that doesn’t involve Paris Hilton.

Oh well. Never mind. Sorry I brought it all up. I just checked the website for The Dallas Morning News – both Britney checking into rehab and checking out are among the most read stories. I’ll just go sit in my closet now.

(File photo courtesy of tml_fan_1313 of Toronto, Canada via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)

(For another take on our celebrity-filled media system, please see: "Choking on our Excesses.")

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Anonymous said...

if only I could reach out to Brittany in this her hour of need !

I know deep down she is a sensitive soul in need of love. I am sure I could get her chakras in line in short order and from that point I would enjoy hours of her unending gratitude !

...and I might even make it into the pages of the National Enquirer or have eventually my own reality program!

News Media Studier said...

If that's how you feel about Britney, what must you do when you see Anna Nicole death coverage? I hope you have bottled water in the closet.

Jeff Siegel said...

I'm making a conscious effort -- which is incredibly difficult, given how even the most mainstream news organizations seem to have a dozen people on the Anna Nicole beat -- to avoid every instance of Anna Nicole news. Aren't the people at CNN at least a little ashamed of themselves?

Rick Rockwell said...

An important footnote: The Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that the Anna Nicole Smith saga was the second-most reported story last week on television. Only the total amount of time devoted to the Iraq War surpassed the never-ending post-mortem on this centerfold.

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