It's fascinating to look at how the public undoing of a 26-year-old American 'pop princess' has been played out in the news media.Once upon a time Britney Spears had a charmed life: domination of the music charts, a marriage, children, a finely crafted, wholesome, 'sugar and spice' image that left fans both cooing and salivating after her.
Now the world press are all but writing obituaries for the pop star's ailing career, the marriage to one-time Tv reality show star Kevin Federline is over and her children have been taken away from her amid allegations of drug and alcohol addiction.
Britney's recent spell in a secure psychiatric unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles 'in the interests of her own welfare' has fuelled speculation that mental health issues are at the heart of her erratic and volatile behaviour. The curse of 'celebrity' and the constant media exposure of her private life with notorious photographs of her emerging knickerless from a car, tearfully shaving her head and falling around in an Los Angeles strip club has also been blamed for her decline.
Yet for Britney, at least, it shouldn't have been this way. Raised in the small, backwoods town of Kentwood, Louisiana, the middle of three children, her upbringing was secure and apparently happy. Her mother, Lynne, worked as a local schoolteacher; her father, Jamie, as a building contractor. Both are devout Baptists and stalwarts of their community, although they were later to divorce and neither, as Britney observed in drifting away from them, "had rhythm".
Their little girl, though, always knew what she wanted. "I was never pushed," she has said. "I never had to be. It all came from me."
At the age of eight she was on an agent's books; by 11 she had landed a slot on the popular US children's TV programme The Mickey Mouse Club; and, aged 15 and convinced that she was destined for stardom, she moved to New York. She trekked around record companies, taking the rejections in her stride, until Jive Records heard her sing and signed her cheaply.
She fell in love with Justin Timberlake, the N'Sync singer and fellow Mickey Mouse Club member. By the time he dumped her in 2002, she was already struggling to cope.
Two years later, she married a childhood friend, Jason Allen Alexander, in Las Vegas. The marriage lasted just 55 hours, ending with an annulment stating that Britney "lacked understanding of her actions to the extent that she was incapable of agreeing to marriage".
Later the same year, she married Kevin Federline and had two children, Sean (now two) and Jayden (one).
The pair divorced, citing irreconcilable differences, last July, and by then Britney's life was descending into a painful-to-behold circus act of embarrassments, humiliations and rehab sessions, beneath which there was no safety net.
Her most recent performance at the MTV awards, three months ago, ended in farce as she took to the stage, pasty-faced, squeezed into a not-quite-there spangly bikini, and seemed to have forgotten the words to her songs.
Not everyone believes she is finished. Larry Rudolph, the veteran show business manager who took her to fame, and was later sacked for his trouble, remains a fan. "She's still got enormous talent, and she's smart, and she'll be out there again in a big, big way, selling records and filling stadiums," he says. "The world loves a comeback."
It also loves the sight of a celebrity in torment. There are more of them than ever to feast our eyes upon, and Ms Spears is unlikely to be the last.
"However famous you become," says Professor Cary Cooper, the president of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, "you need to have a life, people you can rely on, a family, real friends, the kind of people who would be natural counsellors."
Britney used to have such people, but lost them along the way. Many of them would like to have her back.
"When you are close to her," says Felicia Culotta, who looked after her in her early New York days, "you realise that she is, really, still a little girl. She's not this big star.
"You can be walking down the street and she'll see something - a doll, maybe - in a shop window and she'll want it so bad that it breaks your heart."
As more drama unfolds The-Latest decided to give you a snapshot of Britney through the eyes of bloggers on the web.
What she needs to do is to disappear off the face of the earth for a couple of years - like, remote island in Fuji disappear.
Then in 4 or 5 years she can come back, sane and stable, and publish her biography "Britney, The Crazy Years" and build a second career singing light blues in bars and small venues. Her first single should be called 'Better Now'. Maybe she'd sit on a high bar stool and accompany herself on a guitar, which she had plenty of time to learn on that island. She'd sing about the hard road of really getting to know her children again and missing the first part of their lives, and she'd be all sane and stable and people would probably have a good deal of sympathy because she wasn't coming across crazy anymore. We've all done some crazy stuff that we look back on and cringe. The important part is to come out the other side so that there's a you to look back and cringe.
Patsy Stone said:
It is really, really, really hard to feel sorry for someone who is bringing in $700,000 US a MONTH!!! I have to make dinner now. I wish I could go on, catch you later.
As much as I'm NOT a fan of Britney, I really have to point out that mental illness is no more someone's "own fault" than appendicitis or catching a cold or most other illnesses that strike without warning and that are not known to be preventable or predictable.
In Britney's case, it might have been predictable because mental illness does run in her family, and frankly her family should have seriously stepped in years ago when she first started doing the bizarre bipolar stuff, but they didn't want to stop the gravy train.
I think it's funny that everyone who has ever surrounded Britney is "to blame" for her problems. She brought them on herself. Plus we now know she has mental issues. Scary to think this isn't over-not by a long shot.
When someone is mentally unbalanced, there is no one to blame. If she is bipolar it would have happened to her no matter what. Mental illness doesn't discriminate against celebrity, common folk, rich or poor ….
BUT-anyone that is in their right mind and CHOSING to profit off of someone's illness is a sick, sick fuck.
Well let's see they've(Britney's parents) blamed - Osma - Adnan, Kevin, Dr. Phil, Ali, Jamie Lynn, the attorney's the hospital staff, the Paps, drugs, Media pressure and anything else you can think of to blameme except themselves and Britney.
That's the mode of the entire world the "Blame Game" it the quickest and easiest escape - it really truly is hard to be responsible and "Normal", it makes being Crazy so much easier than truly working at taking responsibility for our selves - SAD SAD World
Maybe we can all come up with a message board "What's the next Excuse for Britney's irrational behaviour.
I am glad this situation is at least bringing national attention to mental health issues. This country has terrible mental health facilities. Individual doctors are excellent but there is not enough funding for mental health to create excellent care facilities for people who need 24/7 attention during a mental health crisis. Too often these people get shoved into empty rooms for days at a stretch, and have only endless hours of television and sparse visitor hours to keep them occupied. How is that healthy for anyone, much less someone with mental problems? My sister has bipolar disorder and it is a serious illness requiring intense medical, behavioural and talk therapy in order to live a "normal" life.
Also, people need to learn the laws. You can't commit someone against their will unless they present a clear danger to others. And Britney is an adult, so her parents have no legal rights over her any more. Whether or not you're sick of hearing people say that...it's true. You can't force someone to do something against their will unless they are infringing upon the rights of others...welcome to America.
If I (God forbid) ever had to have my daughter committed or if she was ever in a hospital (our youngest was) her Daddy and I would not let her out of our sights (we didn't) for one - damn - minute. Meanwhile, Mama Spears is in Louisiana. Brit has been abandoned.
I think what she really would benefit from is a long private stay with a normal loving family, out far away from prying eyes, away from the culture of drink and drugs and show biz. Sadly with her profile this would be near impossible. She needs to learn what normality is before she can obtain it. A year out of the spotlight would do wonders for her.
"There was love there once. There may be enough of it left for him to want to talk."
Oh, yes there was love. Kevin's love for Britney's money and fame. He doesn't want her to get better, and I justifiably suspect he intentionally did/does things to rile her up. If, God forbid, she ends up dead who do you think the money will go to? Her kids. And Kevin did everything to make sure he has full control of the children. I feel for Britney and while granted, at the moment, she is not capable of looking after her children I worry K-Fed isn't any better. I worry that to him they are just a meal ticket he discards rest of the time. Who is monitoring his parenting skills? Paris Hilton?
I think people are being really hard on Britney. No one can understand the pressure that she's had to endure from such a young age. Other celebrities may be famous, but they haven't been pursued with such vicious and intrusive force. The only possible stars who would probably be able to truly empathise with her are dead - Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Anna Nicole Smith, to name but a few.
I feel so sorry for this poor girl... she can come and stay with me for some normal family life.