Yesterday — whether or not the majority of you readers know — was an epic day of importance in the lives of millions of gay men across the United States. No, Proposition 8 was not overturned, nor were laws preventing homosexuals from adopting. Something more directly correlated to these individuals’ happiness occurred: Britney Spears’ latest album, Circus, was released. This happening coincided with the international star’s 27th birthday, and it signifies the beginning of the entertainer’s latest (and most promising) attempt at a comeback.
It seems that, just as being homosexual is not a conscious choice, neither is a gay’s love for Britney. This may seem like a common sense, stereotypical observation, but the magnitude of this phenomenon began to hit me on November 16, the day Circus leaked on the internet. Talking to friends online as I fed Skittles to my chinchilla, I was surprised by how many people refused to illegally download the album — or if they had downloaded it, they sincerely intended to purchase the CD when it was available.
In our current collegiate culture (alliteration!) of music piracy without a shred of regret, it struck me that so many people (read: gays) said things like, ”Oh, I just couldn’t do that to Britney — I need to support her by buying it.” It is just comically bizarre that those people, the same ones with literally thousands of unpaid-for songs on their computers, feel that they need to — that they must — support someone worth over 100 million dollars whom they have never met.
During the past two years, Britney has become one of the most photographed and talked-about people in the world simply by driving around L.A. in a stupor while eating Cheetos and drinking Frappucinos, being “supervised” by various Middle Eastern men and shaving her head. It was perpetual chaos, and at a certain point it all seemed to just be the same shit on a different day. Why, then, did millions of people continually return to gay-run websites such as PerezHilton.com and DListed.com for their hourly updates on the fallen pop princess? Why all the unconditional love, concern and intrigue for this particular star?
Amy Winehouse — a disastrous mess of a greater order than even Britney — will probably die in the next year, but people have generally accepted that inevitability and have stopped caring. I would hypothesize that if a more comparable American entertainer, such as Christina Aguilera, succumbed to being a self-destructive lunatic — people would not be interested in her life the same way they are interested in Britney’s. For some reason, she is different.
In an attempt to make sense of this, I spoke with a few young men of a certain persuasion about their love for Ms. Spears. In doing this, I noticed common threads: They admire and support the star because they grew up with her, because she — like they — is persecuted, because she is an underdog worth rooting for and because she pumps out club-bangers that you can jam to at international dance venues like Ithaca’s own Level B.
Most recalled being tantalized by her “… Baby One More Time” video and fondly remember returning home from grade school to watch her perform on TRL. As she grew up in the public eye, they matured privately; when she faced scrutiny for how she lived her life and for whom she loved, so, too, did most of these young men.
When one of my enthusiastic interviewees was asked why he cared for her so much, he responded: “She’s such and enigma — she doesn’t sing particularly well, but she is able to come out with great dance songs — even when her personal life is in shambles. She makes the number ones. She’s a fighter. She never gives up and she deals with severe hardship. She inspires me to be the best that I can be and to overcome whatever comes in my way — and to be fierce doing it.” Wow …
Another apparent draw to Britney is that she allows herself to be portrayed as an everyday person (consciously or unconsciously). Her image is not micromanaged like those of other celebrities, whom appear to be flawless in all aspects of their lives. Homegirl is not above using public restrooms (with or without shoes), eating grits with cheese every morning, nappy-ass weaves or driving with her baby on her lap.
After watching her MTV special on Sunday and her multiple, recent performances around the globe, it seems that this comeback might just stick. And after listening to Circus nonstop for the last two weeks, I can assure you that it is a quality album and a good bridge between her earlier music and her last album, Blackout. Hit songs and remixes are certain to come from it, and her unwavering fan base seems eager to help the Queen of Pop back to her throne.
Ultimately, though, I ascertained that Britney’s true fans simply want her to be happy. If she were to end up hosting late-night QVC selling Chia Pets and cubic zirconias with Suzanne Somers, they would still love her. Let’s not enable her to go down that road, though. As she proclaims in her next single “Circus,” she’s a “put-on-a-show kinda girl,” so let’s ensure another 10 years of fabulous music and entertainment. Let’s make Circus debut at #1. It’s a $9.99 special at Target. Go buy it.