18 October 2007

why I can't leave britney alone

I have been swallowing my urge to write on here lately, and you know you who I blame for that? Perez Hilton.

I am "off" celebrity gossip sites, off US Weekly, and even trying to wean myself off of my Facebook newfeed. Why would I possibly turn down my habit of ingesting a thrice-daily dose of fragments of other peoples' lives--photos of babies with ridiculous names, pre and post-liposuction pictures, and speculations about the sexuality of teen idols? Quite simple: I overdosed.

I did. I found myself, about a month ago, browsing through one sassy, scathing site or another, my fingers going numb from all the scrolling. What was I doing, exactly? Nothing. I was, myself, doing absolutely nothing. I was creating nothing, I was learning nothing and I was certainly contributing nothing. I was just consuming images and wasting my time.

And I am desperately afraid of waste. I would say waste is my biggest fear. The fear of wasted time, energy, potential, opportunity, resources always haunts me. I always try to ask, "is what I am doing going to produce something of some value, be it friendship, art, food or love?"

My fixation with celebrity gossip was producing nothing but a hunchback from leaning over my laptop, and a creepy savviness about the failures of complete strangers. Being in the know about celebrity gossip can be handy, as a media student, for cultural critiques and inspiration for possible paper topics. My friend Peter told me yesterday that the trainwreck/spectacle that is Britney Spears is becoming one of the fastest-growing thesis topics for grad students. We feast on this stuff! We can't wait to dig our critical theory claws into someone else's disaster.

As tempting and as easy as it is to criticize public failures, I don't want to be a vulture. That's not why, at 24 years old, I'm still a student and that's not why I am alive. I am not the type to circle spectacle, waiting.

But, and here's the thing, I suspect that educated, passionate people don't feel right about just walking by a disaster. We feel a weird, ethical obligation to salvage something from the wreckage, even if it's something as ethereal and self-serving as an academic analysis. Okay, I know the importance of a critical analysis of pop culture (don't even start me on The Hills), but more often lately, I want to just agree to be dismayed, and move on with my life.

Life as a grad student can feel isolated enough without constantly living vicariously in the warped virtual world of Perez.

And yet, admittedly, I still have my fingers crossed for Britney's real comeback, which may be 10 years down the road at the rate she's going now. Maybe it was the fact that I used to be a Britney impersonator, or maybe I have a tendency to get too attached. Either way, I am trying to let go.


Jessica said...

Did you secretly write this about me? Because your description of getting a "hunchback" from sitting at your computer and having a "creepy saaviness about the failures of complete strangers" is Jessica to a tee! My god, last week I relayed every tiny detail of information about Britney Spears' child custody case to my friend Meghan like the information was about a person I ACTUALLY KNOW! We talked about her like we knew her! How embarrassing, how very, very creepy. I need to ween myself off of the trash...I need help, Dallas! Haha!

Erin said...

I fully agree with everything you've said despite my admitted fascination with the Perez stuff/world of Facebook. I read it daily KNOWING that it's completely and utterly ridiculous, but console myself in that the rest of my time is spent in a much more meaningful way. Tomorrow I will attend a humanitarian conference and then later, I will check my email and Facebook and probably read Perez and US Weekly. Such is the contradiction of my life. Good for you for purging yourself of the gossip! And in my least I'm using these sites as a distraction from the stress of my own life and not as an actual news source...people who cite Us Weekly and People as "news" are a scary breed and seem to be multiplying daily.

And re: Britney, she makes me sad for her. Just truly sad for so many reasons, and I'm not even a fan.

In conclusion: v. good post.

Andrew said...

i forget how it even came up in my sound and cinema class (talking about madonna maybe), but i think that we came to the conclusion that people like celebrities who do "bad" things not because we're so cruel as to enjoy failure/demise, but we are just tired of blank, manufactured, depthless celebrities who don't actually do anything. so we prefer the one that go "awry"... i gotta stop writing with so many quotation marks... i'm turning into carole farber...

Dallas said...

Yeah, maybe we're drawn to the anything that is intense enough to slip through the PR cracks.