Column/Time to leave Britney alone

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

I’m going to do something in this column I never thought I’d do.

In fact, if someone had told me I would do it, I’d have thought they were crazy.

Really, it’s two things I’m going to do that will surprise even me.

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First, I’m going to write about Britney Spears.

Second, I’m going to defend her.

Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am not a Britney Spears fan.

But she has become a young woman who is obviously very troubled. And the national media seems to take pleasure in showcasing her various exploits.

Let’s remember that she was still a child when she became a pop superstar with her first single, “Baby One More Time.”

Critics said her school girl outfit from the video was too provocative for a young girl to be wearing. Of course, they were right. But adults were no doubt behind the image and were making a bundle off the teenager.

And parents were buying the CDs for their 9 year olds. So, really, did anyone care if Spears was being exploited?

More recently, Spears has been the subject of scrutiny by the entertainment press. She has been criticized for shaving her head, for her parenting skills and now for her lip-syncing performance and the (very small) outfit she wore on the MTV Music Awards.

And just to make it even more personal, her weight has been the topic of everyone from the women on “The View” to news anchors on major networks. More specifically, she has been criticized for being “fat.”

Like I said, I’ve never been a big Britney Spears fan, but there are two things here that bother me.

First, it’s mostly women doing the criticizing about her weight. In a quick, unofficial survey, it appears most men find nothing wrong with her size or shape.

And let’s be honest. Who wouldn’t want to be the size she is. Maybe she shouldn’t have worn the outfit she did, but by any standard she can’t be considered “fat.”

For a 26-year-old woman who has had two children, she looks perfectly healthy. What does the media want? For every troubled superstar to be an unhealthy size 0 or 2?

Which brings up the second matter that troubles me.

When a celebrity is coming apart either mentally or emotionally,

we as a society can’t seem to get enough of it.

Is it the old adage that we build up our idols so we can tear them down?

Spears has been in the spotlight since she was a child.

She has no privacy for making the normal types of mistakes in judgement that any young person can make. The only difference is that her choices are high profile.

Has she made mistakes? Sure. But who among us didn’t as we were growing and maturing.

Does she need some help? Probably. And the real shame of this is that her friends and family are either unable or unwilling to provide her the help she needs.

Should her every move be scrutinized by even the mainstream press? Definitely not.

With the other issues facing our country, it seems the media would have other things to talk about. Even me. So, this is the first, and only time, I’ll write a column about Britney Spears.

tammy leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.