Friday, January 4, 2008

Oh, Britney, Britney

Is there anything dignified in the discovery of mental illness in a person? Despite my being fed a steady diet of National Public Radio, academic magazines, books, research papers, and so much more brain food, I also watch Entertainment Tonight every night. I must allow the pop culture beast inside of me to snack liberally at the trough.

I may roll my eyes, talk back to the TV, or even channel surf during the program, but until tonight, I hadn't gotten upset to the point of tears. and it was all on account of Britney.

I understand that there is some entertainment value in following the drama that is a celebrity divorce/child custody case. This is the foundation for magazines like The Star. Who gained weight, lost weight, found true love, or had a bad hair day makes for yummy brain candy, but being taken away from one's house in an ambulance in order to be put on a 72-hour psych hold is not, I repeat, not entertainment for national television or tabloid publications.

And yet, there it was in pre-prime time. The host of ET kept coming back around to the "Britney in lockdown!!!!" story. My husband stood in the doorway and said, "Aren't lockdowns for, like, prisons and schools that are under siege?"

Britney, Britney. There she was, unfocused, disheveled, trying to take it all in as she was wheeled down the driveway on a gurney. Camera flashes exploded in the Los Angeles night as paparazzi surrounded the ambulance. Brit didn't panic--she was obviously mentally detached and docile.

There was a helicopter circling the scene. A helicopter. A helicopter with camera people getting close-up shots of Britney like some all-seeing omniscient tabloid eye. By the time Brit was whisked away, there were six police cars and three ambulances at the property. It was chaos, it was a circus, and it must have been humiliating as hell for Ms. Spears. Fully half of the 21 minutes of ET's on-air content was devoted to the Britney drama.

My stomach clenched. How is this legal? How is this ethical? How can people honestly think it is OK to make mental illness, or at the very least, a 72-hour psych hold, a spectator sport? this is not harmless. It greatly adds to the stigma when these episodes happen to average people.

A helicopter? Ms. spears should have been given the privacy she so desperately needed today. Privacy, dignity, respect, basic human decency.

She's on suicide watch. I can't imagine why, having just had such a party in her honor. She must be feeling so loved with all of this attention.

Blech. There oughtta be a law. Oh, there is, actually, and you can read a tidy little summary of it on the Newsweek Website by clicking here. Maybe it's just me, but the doctor being interviewed seems to be dodging the specifics of that 5150. Why do they dance around these criteria questions? What's the big secret? Why do the police have so much leeway in deciding who's normal and who isn't?
These things keep me up at night, and if Brit finds herself unable to sleep, she can call me anytime and we can commiserate about how it feels when other people decide they have every right to step in and run your life.
Why not just take the kids and let Britney be who she will, doing what she wants? She's an adult. Leave her alone.

Maybe we can invoke the spirit of Anna Nicole to explain it all...

No comments: