I take no pride in admitting that I too have fallen into the nasty habit of reading all of the gossip blog information I can find on the Britney Spears' melt down. Its horrible, its like admitting to looking at the bodies when you finally pass the traffic accident even though the car looks like a crushed soda can and you know it ain't gonna be good. I can't help it. And I've been trying to think about why I can't help it. I know the interest helps sells gossip rags and tabloids, which in turn buy these paparazzi shots and the whole thing perpetuates so I should stop but I don't. Is it part of our culture? Its certainly not novel to point out Americans love to create heroes and myths, and equally love to tear them down. But that's not it, it maybe part of the reason why we are so fascinated by the meltdown, but its not why we keep tuning in. Maybe its too see how far we're going to let it go before someone actually does intervene.
Clearly, nobody thinks this erratic behavior can be attributed to a bratty celebrity gone wild. The woman is obviously suffering from some sort of mental illness and needs help to rein it in if she can, but nobody seems to be stepping up. I was checking out of a store today and a woman behind me was commenting on all of the tabloid headlines with Britney on the cover. She said, "Is no one going to help her?" And when I turned around, to see who had said it, I noticed she was accompanied by a caregiver who was unloading her cart and helping her get her money together for her purchase. For some reason this really struck me. I have had several friends who have had to deal with loved ones who suffered from depression. You can't control the person's actions. From the outside it's easy to say if that were my loved one I'd... and I wouldn't let them blah blah blah. But the truth is, when the person is an adult there isn't really much recourse for their loved ones to help them unless the person cooperates or the family has them declared unfit to take care of themselves. What are the chances that someone who isn't in their right mind is going to cooperate with loved ones trying to take away their freedom?
Many who have never been in this situation also seem to equate crazy with dumb. Just because a person is all of a sudden acting manic or unstable doesn't mean they've lost their intelligence. Sometimes it's harder to help because they can control their illness enough so that many around them can't see the pain they're in. Take for example the noted academic who recently gave a rousing New Year's speech to the preparatory school he was president of and hours later threw himself off a building. Is the fascination with depression because the numbers of those who suffer from it is on the rise? I know a number of people, normal friends, who have taken anti-depressants to get through situational depression. And what clinically is situational depression isn't it just life do you really need a pill to get through it? More and more I think our fascination with Britney and others is likely because we see that depression and mental illness can affect anyone and in some sick way maybe people take solace in that.
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich-- yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.