Has-been High Jinks

The recent stories that have been in the news about Britney Spears have sparked a particular thought worth exploring – to what extent will fading celebrities go to remain in the spotlight?
A wise man once said that all publicity is good publicity. While Britney may or may not have performed her rebellious head-shaving and car-bashing for media attention, it is evident that these stunts would not go unnoticed. Of course, one can also speculate that, Spears has had one too many mojitos and has gone a little nuts. In any case, these events are a perfect example of the desperation of a has-been missing the attention of the media.

A huge trend that has hit Hollywood in the last few years is the scandalous sex tape. Paris Hilton has done it, Pam and Tommy Lee did it, and even Tonya Harding has tried it. While Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee claimed to have had their video stolen after a robbery at their house, many celebrities record and leak the videos intentionally. Hilton even receives profits from the sales of her tape.

Think back to 2004, when the hotel heiress’ video first hit the wire. The amount of attention on Hilton was phenomenal. She may not have been known under perfect circumstances, but her fame instantly sky-rocketed. She was the person to be seen with and invite to your parties. Hilton quickly became the name heard around the water-cooler. She was everybody’s favorite star to gossip about, whether you loved her or hated her. She even starred in her own reality television show.

Hilton was merely one person involved in some form of scandalous behavior to get in the spotlight. These two words will bring to mind a whole slew of visuals: “wardrobe malfunction.” The 2004 Superbowl half-time show was one to be remembered forever. Janet Jackson had recently come back into the limelight after a few months of tabloid stories revealing a massive weight gain. She was asked to perform a duet with Justin Timberlake for half-time. As Justin sang the last line of his song, “I’ll have you naked by the end of this song,” he ripped a piece of fabric off of Janet’s chest. Out popped a breast, covered only by a bejeweled pasty. Mouths all around America fell agape and mothers covered children’s eyes. The FCC, PepsiCo, who sponsors much of the Super Bowl, MTV, who organized the half-time show, and CBS were unaware of the stunt prior to the event. Due to the live feed of the show, the FCC was unable to censor it. The malfunction was claimed to be a “mistake,” and the two later apologized.

Celebrities pull many of these stunts purposely to capture headlines that garner publicity. A sane-minded individual may ask himself, why do we care? How is Britney Spears bashing a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella any different from your next-door neighbor or the crazy guy down the street pulling something similar? It is the exact same thing, only the celebrity has a famous name and a recognizable face. The public tends to put stars on pedestals, and in their eyes, they can do no wrong. When they inadvertently do, the public is shocked and dismayed. We want to know every detail, and the media feeds off of this craving.

While we know that following the lives of these people so closely is wrong and a bit odd, nothing will stop us. So relax and wait for someone else to do something stupid.