Today you can probably find just about any type of merchandise that has “If Britney can make it through 2007 – you can make it through this” plastered over it. It seems that the last name Spears has become synonymous with delusion and baldness. Even recently we see Lifetime’s Britney Ever After pushing Spears into a false box of insanity and BBC’s new insensitive headline that bellows: “Breaking News Ed Sheeran has gone Full Britney”. Gone. Full. Britney. These three words are the quintessence of the Britney that the world sees now. To a large majority, Britney Spears has become a shell of who she once was, and remembered for who she is not.
But what does Britney making it through 2007 really mean? Although the images of Spears shaving her head and later smashing a paparazzi’s SUV with an umbrella have been dubbed timelessly iconic, the placid public image that we see of Spears currently should be branded with the same stamp.
The media turned obvious psychological issues into a common case of pop party girl syndrome.
For context, the hands on the fast ticking clock of pop culture have to be turned back approximately a decade. 10 years ago was the beginning of what most thought was the definitive end of the enigma that is Britney Spears. As the most googled, and photographed person in 2007, Spears was under surveillance and being scrutinized by what seems like (but felt like for her) the entire world. Spears was a global phenomenon, but beyond what she had imagined, and already achieved. For over 365 days, and almost 24 hours a day Britney Jean was followed with cameras and the sounds of their shuttering. However, her latest album Blackout had become one of her most critically acclaimed and fan loved to date. Was it the music on Blackout or was it her unsolicited infamy?
It seems that crashing and burning were what the public wanted from Spears and that the chaos connected to the burning silenced deafening cries for help. Spears’ performance of “Gimme More” at the 2007 VMAs was panned and laughed it – but not seen as evidence of deeper issues. Britney was labeled as fat, dazed, and unfit for the performance, The media turned obvious psychological issues into a common case of pop party girl syndrome. Britney Spears’s mental health was declining. Her neon pink costume wig coupled with consistently erratic behavior were only seen as more profit by paparazzi and tabloids.
Fast forward to late 2008 and Spears comes out of her circus-paced life with the debut of her sixth studio album Circus. It seems that everyone had forgotten she was previously self-destructing in front of their eyes because she pretended to forget along with them. Although 2007 Britney has provided the internet with a plethora of memes, it should be remembered that Spears was hurting and that her internal battle should not so easily be the source of laughter.
Britney’s continued drive today ten years later with her “Piece of Me” Las Vegas residency displays how determined she must have been in order to pull herself from out of the jaws of substance abuse and its psychological effects. The torch that carries Britney’s icon status should be placed in the hands of her music, but also next to her ability to revive herself after such intense turmoil. By no means should it be said that there are not long-lasting psychological effects of a publicized breakdown (and who is to say that Britney is not still battling); but it should be said that reaching the top “…One More Time” after being hit by a large weight is a great feat. Quite Iconic.