Monday, September 10, 2007

Make it stop...

Oh, dear.

I don’t suppose I really have anything new to add to what will undoubtedly be a minor uproar over a certain former pop princess’s “come-back” performance yesterday evening. Yes, we switched over to the (erstwhile) music channel last night at 9:00 to see what we’d find, and I’m not claiming any moral high ground here by saying we shouldn’t have watched it – we were intended to watch it and the decisions of too many individuals went into producing it for anyone to really claim she was excusably unprepared for the event (including, one assumes, the decision of Miss B, herself, though one also wonders whether she was in a state of mind last night to make decisions, period, whether her fog was due to chemicals, a hangover, nerves or just plain exhaustion).

It was a confusing, stumbling, embarrassing mess of a performance from a performer who – love her or hate her – was at one time one of the most drooled-over women in the country, with one of the most tightly toned bodies and high-energy performance styles out there. Anyone who saw the performance last night would acknowledge that she looked out of shape* and out of breath, disconnected and woefully unprepared – marking her movements lethargically and often lip-synching with the wrong part of the song, when she was lip-synching at all – and her styling was terribly, awfully off.

All of that is yet another indication of something deeply wrong on a personal level – and no wonder, as we have all been (for better or worse) witness to her highly publicized personal struggles with motherhood, divorce and alleged substance abuse. Lord knows, I can sympathize with a person’s individual emotional difficulties, and people deal with things differently. To me, she clearly needs a steadying, guiding influence, and not only for her personal wellbeing. Like it or not, a pop star’s image is her business, her brand. Her look and her sound, her style and her actions are all part of the production and privacy is rarely part of the deal. It must be tremendously difficult to keep your grasp on your sense of self, if you are ever truly allowed to understand what your own sense of self may be (as I suspect she never has been), and to hold on to it while the Public You is held out for consumption. I can’t imagine that a person could do that on his or her own, which is why a Pop Star has an entourage of publicists and trainers and stylists and assistants, not to mention hopefully at least one or two true friends, whether it’s a mom or a sister or a buddy, to keep it real and deal out the tough love when necessary.

So where is her entourage? Is everyone afraid of crossing her? Does she have enough money that she doesn’t care and doesn’t listen? How do you approach someone who is so massively out of touch and persuade them to accept help? At what point does everyone give up and let the star retreat to Neverland Ranch to emerge every now and then embroiled in some even crazier shenanigans? Leaving the personal out of it, since the Pop Star is a business, isn’t there anyone with the foresight to recognize that the long-term benefits of truly shaping up and kicking ass would be much more lucrative and satisfying than the immediate gratification of an elaborate meltdown? Is there, in fact, a rock bottom? Is this all our fault, for encouraging and continuing to support her place in the public eye?

I’m not going to try and offer trenchant commentary on what all this hoopla and the inevitable tearing-down says about the state of our culture and our morals – those points will be made by others more eloquent than I can be. But I just have to wonder what the ultimate point is supposed to be. It would certainly be less embarrassing for the rest of us if last night’s performer would get the help and support that she needs on a professional level, and I do hope that she somehow gets the help and support that she seems to need so desperately on a personal level, whether she realizes she needs it or not. While I assume she has plenty of money and advantages that the average person can’t dream of, it’s still saddening and depressing to see someone with so much potential flounder so badly. It makes me feel like we’ve all failed, somehow.

*Out of shape for her, though I think on real-world terms she great, especially for having had two children since we saw her last.


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