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Op-Ed: Image Kills the Artist as Spears Loses Kids, Management, Career

By Paul Wallis     Oct 1, 2007 in Entertainment
A court has ordered that Kevin Federline, Spears’ ex, be given custody of their two children until further notice. The court cited instances of frequent substance abuse. Spears and Federline have been ordered to attend parenting classes.
On the face of it, Spears has been torpedoed by some pretty unwise moves, and Federline has won the first round. Custody battles don't end, they just have chapters. Expect to see round two after a publicist has been found.
The BBC article points out that Federline has been after more time with the kids, and more money from the “settlement” that apparently hasn’t settled.
Just to round off a perfect year so far, Spears has also been dropped by her management. Perhaps not such a bad result, if they were in any way connected with her suicidal comeback attempt. Spears also faces a possible six month jail sentence if convicted for a recent driving offence.
This is celebrity? This is squalor. Spears may not be Mother Teresa, but you have to wonder how anyone could be allowed to do a kamikaze act like that by her minders. This is getting into the Michael Jackson league, where ratlike hangers-on watch the ship go down, and sell their stories to the tabloids. People tend to forget Spears is still a kid, basically. The emotional effect of the soul-crippling loss of her kids will be devastating.
The media may to some extent have just been doing its job reporting her misadventures, and she hasn’t really done herself any favors. Courts aren't in a position to be ambivalent about substance abuse. But you have to wonder if her media-inspired rep hasn’t amplified normal adolescent stupidity into a crime spree.
Toss a kid into a candy store, and you get a sticky, messy, kid. Let the kid eat too much, and you get a sick kid.
The irony is that she started off as Junior Jailbait, dancing around lockers, all the vibes of the sexy, wild, teen. That was the image, she lived up to it, in fact surpassed it, and made millions of dollars for a lot of people.
The image as fact, however, has made her an industry pariah. Nobody wants to know, and people have been making a lot of money ripping shreds off her. (“Entertainment” industry…. trash factory. Almost as bad as the music industry.) A few years ago nobody would have dared to tear into her like they did after the MTV appearance, because she was hot property. Hypocrisy isn’t entirely unknown in the world of the critic, either.
I sympathize with Spears a lot, for the personal hell she must be going through. It’s a mean thing to do to a kid.
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