Sometimes, I lie awake at night and hope that things, when taken in the full context of our times, used to be a lot, lot worse. There is some unended chapter in the 1960’s or ’70’s, where, if we were to invent some form of time machine and take a virtual snapshot on some camera, no doubt developed by Apple (presumably called the iTime iCamera or something) and find that things were much, much crazier and more hedonistic than they are now. I do, I lie awake at night and I hope.
Not that it’s going to do any good, of course.
I’m not one to usually follow the various self-inflicted trials of celebrities. Sure, I’ll listen with amusement at the latest television star to be caught in an affair, and I’ll laugh heartily as another movie star gets caught with a DUI, and I’ll scratch my forehead in puzzlement at yet another nightclub shooting. Actually, I like hearing about how people who make more undeserved money than me screw up, because then when I put the coffee filter in wrong or forget to mail the mortgage payment I can smile mildly to myself in a self-congratulatory sense of entitlement. At least I didn’t pass out drunk at a truss boutique on Rodeo Drive.
But lately the absolute frequency and intensity of misbehaving young starlets seems to point more towards the supply end of the graph than the demand. Sure, it’s great to see some young blonde get her (ahem) comeuppance, but when everyone’s doing it, no one is shamed. And there’s much more by way of surprises than I’m comfortable with.
Anna Nicole Smith’s behavior has been reliably unfavorable, a remarkable feat for a woman who has been dead for at least week. She has an ambiguous, incoherent will that is going to tie up the probate courts for (no doubt) decades, though one has to concede that it’s still more lucid than anything she’s verbalized in the last ten years or so.
The newest problem child is Britney Spears, whose increasingly erratic behavior has raised more than a few eyebrows in…well, pretty much the studio of Access Hollywood and maybe per parents’ house. But even her latest adventures are close to slapping the “crazy” tab on her. After a few days of rehab rumors swirling about the tabloids, she shows up at a modest tattoo parlor and demanded to have some body art added to her already remarkably tousled appearance, specifically on her wrists. Now, I’ve never been very fascinated by tattoos—not on myself or others—and it’s not from some fear of needles or, more logically, hepatitis, it’s just that I have an inherent aversion to activities with little positive contribution to someone’s well-being and an extremely expensive opt-out cost, in this case presumably successive skin grafts or some Star Trek laser they developed at the Robert Schuller Deprogramming Clinic and Health Food Laboratory, Inc. But if there was one place I would not want to have a tattoo—besides, you know, there—is the wrist. There’s just too much in the over/under in that transaction to make me think a permanent body art representation of a Chinese proverb that unbeknownst to me really means “I Crave It From Behind” is best displayed on one of the weakest areas of your blood flow continuum.
Of course, you would think that the story would stop there, but if you did, you not only haven’t been watching a television in the past fourteen centuries or, hopefully and more likely, you have successfully blocked out all reports containing information about Spears as a colossal waste of time and effort for everyone involved in society. (Which, by the way, means you shouldn’t be reading this right now.) Previous to receiving her tattoo, Spears took a razor from a conveniently nearby salon and shaved off all of her hair. This, of course, being somewhat of a shame, since Spears’s hair seems to be the last part of her body that hasn’t been sold out to the highest bidder.
If there is one look that is pretty much confirmed as not being particularly unbecoming, the female bald look is it. It didn’t particularly work for Sinead O’Conner, the only other pop star who deliberately shaved her head to make up for her talent of not having any talent. It’s not hard to believe that she’s doing it in a moment of guilt and weakness to desexualize herself after effectively whoreing out her wholesome image at the expense of her dignity, and wants to bring back even a small modicum of self-respect to her new role as a mother. Either that or she has lice.
This stands in stark contrast to her perceived arch-rival in the total skankification competition, Christina Aguilera. Spending the last few years in kind of a low-key, whore detox schedule, Aguilera managed to redeem herself with a presentation at the James Brown tribute at the 2007 Grammys. In what has generally been a well-received performance, she belted out “It’s A Man’s World” with such force and enthusiasm it can only be assumed that she either had to pass a kidney stone or trying to sweat out the gin, either of which could be perfectly amenable to be a fitting emulation to the Godfather of Soul.
It’s hard to bring up that much moral outrage about all these young girls. Since Hollywood cracked open its doors almost a century ago, young actors and actresses have misbehaved publicly and brutally ever since Clara Bow’s amazing display of muscular conditioning and gastronomical tolerance in terms of volume astounded the world, or at least the collegiate football system. It’s no wonder than they succumb to the pressures of stardom, but it does add a little bit of perspective as to how things work in our society. When Russell Crowe goes on a four-day bender and leers at the teenagers down at the mall after suckerpunching the waitress at Appleby’s, it’s on the news for the next three weeks and adds a few million dollars to his asking price. When our Uncle Jim does it, we call it Tuesday.