Although race hate is currently more fashionable in Australia than elsewhere, a trash mag advertisement reminded me this morning that some forms of vitriol are near universal. The magazine in question yelled out "Britney's Worst Week Yet!!" with a picture of Ms Spears looking rather worse for wear. Last week there was a similar headline, but that only had one exclamation mark. Presumably the lower she sinks the more punctuation is required to convey the glee. Since that poster was printed she has had her kids taken away from her so perhaps next week a triple exclamation will be called for. One wonders what will happen when the logical conclusion of the Britney Spears spectacle is reached and she is presented to the cameras in a cage; a drooling vegetable in a shit-stained nappy with her hands behind her back. How much punctuation will be needed for that one?
It is quite curious to see a mediocre human being catapulted into the stratosphere of the gods before being slowly dragged down to earth and toyed with, like a cat toys with a mouse. The rational responses are moral outrage or cold, detached observation. An irrational response is to weep into a webcam but this is not advised unless you want a tv show (oh how those Big Brother contestants must be seething, humiliating themselves for weeks in a cannibalistic rampage of torture, narcissism and loose sexuality, when all it took was a few minutes blubbering on YouTube). Perhaps to stick with detached observation is best. It is quite heartbreaking to see an innocent human being bludgeoned into spasticity, but what to do? A Roman at the Colosseum might express his moral objections, but who would hear him over the maniacal jeers and cheers? So it goes. Bread and circuses.
So we just accept it without judgement? Not quite. The people who hoover up the filth are also simultaneously feigning disapproval and blaming anyone they can for it. But who can we blame? The Media? This is the common target, but what does it even mean? "The media" is not a lone homogeneous voice. It contains all manner of opinions, including those attacking the behaviour of "the media". Even those specific magazines that egg on Britney's mental collapse will defend themselves, "if celebrities use the media then they get what they deserve" they say, "and besides if people didn't buy it we wouldn't print it." Indeed, so what of those who buy it? "I only buy it to look at the pictures" they carp, "and besides, I bought her album." Well, no arguing with that then. So the record company must be to blame. "No, of course not" they say "why would it be in our interests to destroy our talent?". Ah, then no-one is to blame. The crime is being committed but no-one is holding the weapon. We can all keep our consciences clean, and should she go out with a bang in a suicide we might even get to indulge in a spot of Diana-style Hallmark teddy-bear grief and point the finger of indignation at each other. On the other hand, should Britney simply fade away like Kafka's Hunger Artist, back to the blank avatar she began as, we need not reflect on it at all and comfortably move on to the next feast, collectively sucking Perez Hilton's cock along the way.
Oh modern life, how sweet thou art!