Those words are from this Leonard Pitts column that was published 3/9/07 in the Miama Herald. Here’s another excerpt:
… To the degree I think about her at all, it’s usually as a laugh line. People ask if I miss being a pop music critic, having spent the first 18 years of my professional life in that capacity. I tell them I give thanks every morning that I don’t have to pretend to take Britney Spears seriously. It’s always good for a chuckle.
That’s what Spears was to me: a punch line.
Am I the only one? Or isn’t it true that between her two-day first marriage, her Madonna kiss on national television, her panties-optional dress code, she long ago became, even for her fans, a person whose attraction lay less in her modest talents than in the sense you never knew what she might do next? She was a little crazy. A little out of control. A little clueless in ways that made you feel better about the garbage of your own life.
As in, maybe I ain’t no Nobel Prize winner, but at least I have sense enough to wear underwear when I go out.
And you could say this, talk about her like she wasn’t in the room, because she was not, in some sense, real. Spears was an abstract, an idea. Not a troubled young woman who has been in and out of rehab in recent days, a woman for whom fame and fortune apparently have proven inadequate to fill the emptiness inside.
The abstraction is not surprising: Whatever media touch, they objectify. Some years ago, I got an e-mail from an outraged reader who, as the saying goes, called me everything but a child of God. I e-mailed him back and we ended up having a perfectly civil exchange. I remember he seemed embarrassed, as if he had not quite realized that the byline represented an actual human being who actually might read his invective. He had hurled it at an idea of me.
But I am not an idea. …
I know that strange behavior by famous men also gets a fair amount of press coverage sometimes, but photo for photo, word for word, it’s my strong impression that “celebrity” women get mocked a lot more frequently and viciously than “celebrity” men do. See also. And of course their careers are typically shorter, and they generally earn less money.