Before you ask, no, that’s not my usual birthday greeting (you can lower your eyebrows now). This specific greeting is for non other than the Princess of Pop*, Miss Britney Spears, who is 40 today. (Side note – how can she be 40 when I remember her bursting onto the scene as a literal child and I was old enough to vote? Never mind…)
I got into a rather heated discussion at a party a couple of years back when I declared with my whole chest that Britney was, indeed, the Princess of Pop. I was angrily shot down by a fellow reveller who said that the title belonged to Madonna. I cavalierly laughed in her face and said that Madonna was, at best, the wicked stepmother of pop and could only dream of being as good as Britney. I presumed I had engaged in some gentle, good-natured banter but had clearly underestimated said reveller’s love for Madonna (and the volume of red wine consumed) and I genuinely thought I was about to get beaten up. I love you, Britney, but I don’t choose that particular hill to die on.
Now I say love Britney, but would I class myself as a fan? After watching The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship on BBC iPlayer the other week, the answer is a resounding ‘not even close’. I love stomping around my house to Womanizer on full volume as much as the next person but the fans featured in the documentary are next level.
Over the last few months, the #FreeBritney campaign had expanded beyond YouTube commentaries and social media blog posts to making national news headlines. It was watching a report on BBC 6 O’Clock news that prompted me to actually find out more about this and watch the documentary.
It took me until about minute 42 of the 59 minute programme to realise that this whole campaign and subsequent news reports was based on nothing more than the adoration and obsession of fans. Fans who don’t know Britney. Or her parents. Or her family. Or possess any kind of medical or legal qualification. That’s not to say that the campaign is invalid or that the conservatorship was right – this here British woman, writing a blog and who has never had any communication with Britney in my life, still wants nothing but the best for her – but it blows my mind that conjecture and opinion rather than hard facts and information can be so loud and powerful.
So what does this teach me as I reflect on this 2nd day of Blogmas? That this world is WILD. Information is everywhere but also nowhere. The social media and internet age has multiplied that to the power of a million. When it comes to knowing people, nothing beats real life and even THEN, there has to be some relationship.
I hold my hands up and admit I’ve been guilty of building whole narratives on someone’s lives and motives when I’ve only met them once or twice. My disclaimer of “Well, I’m not saying I know all the facts, but I will say…” just doesn’t cut it. Girl, shut up and mind your own business. You’ve got enough of it to be getting on with.
I’m all for advocating for people and not turning a blind eye to apparent distress, but let’s just get some facts. Cold, hard facts. I know it’s obvious, but in this barrage of daily opinion from all directions, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s true. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be famous and have the world commentating and speculating on your life. A humble 200 follower social media account is more than enough.
I say all that to say Happy Birthday, Britney. I’m glad you’re free of the conservatorship and wish you health and wellness as you turn 40. After all, that’s when Life Begins.
*I know this post has been about the danger of opinion over fact, but Britney being the Princess of Pop is pure, unadulterated fact. Signed, me.