Britney Spears hates us. I hope you know that.
Something you should also know is that Britney Spears definitely hasn’t recovered from her 2007 meltdown. Sure, she may no longer be buzzing off her hair in a strip mall in Tarzana, but she’s a long ways away from the Britney we once knew and loved. She came back from that year acting different (read: more sedated) and has never been completely the same since.
Today little is known about Britney Spears’ day-to-day life. She gets photographed going to Starbucks occasionally and last season we got to see her give short four-word critiques on The X Factor. We also know that up until recently she dated agent Jason Trawick—a man many people believed to be her keeper rather than her romantic partner—but beyond that, we have no idea how often she sees her kids, what her relationship with her ex, Kevin Federline, is like or who she actually spends her time with. Like, who are her true friends? What does the life of one of the biggest pop stars in the world actually look like?
According to the 2008 documentary, For The Record, it doesn’t look good. Originally thought of as a way to convince fans that Britney was back to normal again, For The Record quickly demonstrated otherwise by showing an increasingly isolated and depressed Britney Spears as she did prep for her comeback album, Circus. In one particularly chilling section, Spears breaks down crying and admits that her life resembles jail. There’s no joy. No passion. “I’m sad,” she tells the interviewer, her voice quivering.
It was perhaps the last honest moment we were ever going to see come out of Britney Spears. After For The Record was released, her team decided to put her on an even shorter leash and disallow any press. She does a magazine cover every once in awhile but the writer is denied almost all access to Spears. They can ask her bland, asinine questions to which Britney will give bland, asinine answers but that’s it. After years of whoring herself out to the press, years of the audience taking everything they could from her, Britney might just be locked up for good.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, by the way. Working Britney to the bone for over a decade clearly proved detrimental to her well-being so I’m glad she’s shied away from the spotlight in recent years. What does make me sad, though, is how soulless she looks. Seriously, you guys, the photos and appearances don’t lie. Britney looks fucking miserable. It seems like all of her handlers, including her father Jamie Spears who still has control over her finances, are just interested in keeping her working and staying relevant. Meanwhile, Britney goes on tour and gives performances in which it looks like she’d rather have her eyes gouged out rather than sing and dance. Britney was one of the best dancers in the industry and now she can barely wave her hand back and forth.
I’m no longer mourning the “Old Britney” because chances are that Britney was fucking depressed too. She just did a better job of hiding it. I guess I just wish that the people around her gave her room to breathe. I obviously don’t know Britney personally so I can’t speak to her specific wants and needs but judging by her appearances in the last few years, it doesn’t take a best friend to notice that she looks unhappy. The hard part is knowing that we’re partially to blame for all of this. Britney definitely struggles with something, possibly mental illness, but fame expedited the process. Our insatiable appetite for information about Britney’s life is the reason why we’re all starving now.
My hope for her is that Britney finally says “Fuck y’all!” to everybody and moves to the desert to clutch healing crystals and go swimming. Whatever she does, she needs to go away from Los Angeles and try to create a semblance of a normal life. Every time I see a picture of her, I’m reminded of the evil nature of fame and all of its casualties. Who knows if someone who’s been famous practically her whole life can ever be content but she’s certainly not going to find out while doling out advice to young hopefuls on a soundstage in Burbank.