Issue 3: They Should Have Always Left Britney Spears (And So Many More) Alone!
Time and time again, society dehumanizes and ridicules so many famous
March 11, 2021
Back in 2007, at the height of media criticism towards pop star Britney Spears, a video titled “Leave Britney Alone!” was uploaded to Youtube. A man named Chris Crocker wept and demanded that everyone, especially the media, stopped Spears. Crocker became a laughing stock amongst the public, but it seems like he’s a prophet with hindsight.
The recent Hulu documentary Framing Britney Spears shined a light onto the turmoil Spears is still suffering from. While the documentary mostly details the controlling conservatorship Spears’ father owns, it also raises awareness of the media’s power–especially for women.
The documentary depicts so many instances of the media and the public mocking her at her lowest. Paparazzi captures her in tears as she tries to comfort her newborn, while talk show hosts talked about her breasts and sex life when she was only 17. Even game shows like “Family Feud” made her a laughing stock for having a mental breakdown after going through a divorce and losing custody of her children.
Spears is unfortunately not the first woman to be attacked by journalists, paparazzi and talk show hosts. Anna Nicole Smith, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Amanda Bynes, Janet Jackson and even royalty such as Princess Diana are a few examples of women being attacked at their lowest point. Being a woman and a celebrity automatically puts you in the spotlight and even the thought of having a stable mentality is thrown out the window by the public.
Even in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the media mocked famous pop star Whitney Houston. Furthermore, her cocaine addiction and death are still being used as a punch line for people to this day. What is so funny about a woman struggling with addiction and dying? Absolutely nothing! Even in death, she cannot rest peacefully because people want a few cheap laughs.
There’s a double-standard because when men have a drug addiction, struggle with mental illnesses, or explore their sexuality they’re treated as human by the media. When Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s breasts on national TV, but he never got any backlash like Jackson did. She was humiliated again and again not only on TV, but magazines made the mortifying event their cover photo. Jackson lost gigs, her position as a host for the Grammy’s one year and deals she had just signed.
So how come when women have sex, have a drug addiction, or have mental illnesses the public taunts and capture them at their lowest points? While men are praised for being sexually active, women have their privacy invaded by talk show hosts. While men receive empathy and sympathy for struggling with drug addiction or mental illnesses, women’s breakdowns are made the cover photo for magazines. Why does society continue this endless cycle of women being tortured by the media? When a documentary of some sort is made, or the woman abruptly passes away is when everyone wants to apologize for their actions. It’s not enough.
Give the same sympathy and empathy to women as you would with men. is constant cycle of tearing a woman down until they’ve been broken and only apologizing once the damage is done is sickening.
Meena Vasquez is a senior and this is her third year in journalism. Outside of room 112 she likes to sew, coordinate her outfits, and watch 2000s movies.