Back in 2007, an adolescent made a vlog emphatically begging anybody who was listening to “leave Britney alone!” And that video went viral for all of the mistaken causes. Chris Crocker, who was 19 on the time, was the one imploring folks to depart popstar Britney Spears alone as she was going by among the hardest instances in her life. But as a substitute of listening to Crocker and reexamining our collective therapy of Spears, we turned them right into a joke. Late night time hosts mocked them, they usually’re nonetheless a meme on account of their seemingly excessive response to Spears’ misfortune.
Fast ahead to 2021. Britney Spears has been imprisoned in a conservatorship since 2008, which locations each aspect of her life and cash beneath the facility of her father, Jamie Spears. Britney, who has largely been compelled to stay silent on the topic, just lately addressed the court docket to finish the conservatorship, revealing the devastating actuality of her life. And now that these realities are public, individuals are re-examining the best way we handled Chris Crocker again then. Many folks at the moment are realizing that Crocker was proper, and at the moment are giving them credit score for what they mentioned again then. But as they defined to NPR, they don’t need to be “right” about this. They simply need justice for Spears.
“Overall, it’s still not about me. And I think people like to retroactively clap for me or say they should have listened, but I’m more interested in people self-reflecting on why they didn’t,” Crocker mentioned.
That’s the entire thing proper there. Yes, it’s essential that we as most of the people take into consideration why we have been so reluctant to take heed to Chris within the first place. All they have been doing was making an attempt to get us to see Britney Spears as an individual who was actually struggling. We all might see it occurring proper in entrance of us, so why have been we so keen to show a blind eye to it? You can argue that tradition was totally different again then, which it was. Even although we knew that what was occurring was unhealthy, there was a scarcity of collective empathy. So it was simple to make each Britney and Chris Crocker the butt of our jokes. It was simple to take a look at Britney and level a finger of disgrace, as a result of we have been being conditioned to suppose she was the villain in her story.
Britney Spears was actually going by a psychological well being breakdown in entrance of our eyes. We have been watching her life implode in actual time — her relationship was ending, she was making an attempt to be a gift and good mom, and all on the identical time, making an attempt to say her autonomy. And as a substitute of stepping again and permitting her the house to course of her main life adjustments, we shoved cameras in her face (and up her skirt) and known as it leisure. I keep in mind listening to that newspapers have been drafting obituaries in case she by some means ended up lifeless. And we simply accepted that. Like, that’s past fucked up. She was, and nonetheless is, somebody who deserves privateness. It’s good that the general public is lastly realizing that, however we do want to look at what modified.
For lots of people, the documentary “Framing Britney Spears” opened their eyes to all the things she’s going by. It’s a cohesive piece that takes us by her childhood and full profession, which gives a number of perception. Of course, it’s not stunning that after watching one thing that so clearly spells out all the things, folks started to have a newfound understanding and empathy for her. And that’s nice! But like Chris Crocker mentioned, the place was that empathy when she actually wanted it?
Crocker defined within the interview that whereas a lot of their concern was genuinely for Britney Spears, it was additionally coming from a extra deeply private place. Their mom was going by an identical wrestle to Spears, together with coping with extreme PTSD and homelessness. So as a lot as they have been pleading with most of the people to assist Britney Spears, they have been additionally pleading with their household to guard their mom as nicely.
“I was trying to fight for my other family members to still believe in [my mom],” they defined. “I was begging them to give my mom a chance, and so there was a parallel in my life, that sort of tension of why I was defensive over a misunderstood woman, because my mom had me at 14 years old, you know, and she was very misunderstood. And I, in some ways, felt like I had to protect my mom and fight for her.”
And as for Chris Crocker, it was the cultural norm to take a look at an emotional teenager in eyeliner and select to mock as a substitute of truly listening to what they needed to say. Back in 2007, vlogging wasn’t mainstream, and there was a lack of knowledge for the format. Crocker being gender non-conforming wasn’t one thing folks understood both. So once more, it was simpler to show Crocker into the joke somewhat than really hear to what they needed to say. Honestly, the best way folks reacted to Crocker and their video is a sign about how we as a society really feel about girls and those that current in additional female methods. It doesn’t matter that the emotion comes from a real place of harm. If you select to be that emotional publicly, you’re nothing greater than an over emotional drama queen, and nobody cares about what you need to say.
“I always felt that if people just read the transcript and didn’t pay attention to how I looked or that I was screaming and just read what I said, there’s nothing comical about it,” Crocker mentioned to NPR.
And that’s the crux of the entire challenge. Chris Crocker wasn’t saying something controversial or problematic. All they have been doing was stating all the things Britney Spears was enduring on the time. We might not keep in mind all the things, however it was quite a bit. Going by a really messy public divorce could be sufficient. But on high of that, Britney was enduring a custody battle as nicely. And due to how invasive the media is, she was genuinely fearful that they’d hurt her infants. Because her kids have been literal toddlers throughout this time. They chased her automobile, which led to her driving together with her child in her lap as a result of she was terrified they’d run her off the street. Another time, they obtained so shut, she virtually dropped the child in her arms as a result of she was unbalanced. But as a substitute of calling out the paparazzi for aggressively pursuing her, we known as her a foul mom.
Chris Crocker was making an impassioned plea for the general public to do what we should always have already been doing. They have been demanding that we cease seeing Britney Spears as a star. We wanted to deal with her like an individual, and we refused to. In 2007, Britney Spears was 25/26 years outdated. Anyone over the age of 30 is aware of how fucking younger that really is. So you’ve got a younger girl whose life is actually falling aside and all we did was to heap an increasing number of vitriol on her. Because we thought that’s what she as a star deserved.
If you concentrate on it, Chris Crocker’s “Leave Britney Alone” video was revolutionary. Because they have been demanding respect and empathy for a star at a time when nobody else was. We’re nonetheless having conversations proper now the place we’re debating the humanity of celebrities, as if their cash and fame makes them immune from coping with the identical issues “regular” folks take care of. As we’ve seen with Britney Spears, cash and fame can’t all the time prevent. But it additionally reveals us that celebrities aren’t much less deserving of empathy as a result of they’ve standing and cash.
Yes, Chris Crocker was proper again in 2007. And they’re nonetheless proper in 2021. But this isn’t one thing anybody ought to ever need to be “right” about.