Can you name some of the contestants on a current reality TV show?
Okay, that's an easy one.
How about three women pop star/airheads who act weird?
Another easy one.
This should be a piece of cake. Can you name two Nobel Laureates from the last two years?
Don't worry, neither can I. I think you get the point. Ours is a culture of stupid. Stupid and unenlightened. We celebrate stupid. Take Britney Spears - please. In early 2005, she came out with a music video that went like this:
Britney retreats into the bathroom following an explosive argument in a hotel room with her date. A hand lays down a glass of red wine, the bathtub overflows, and on the ledge stands a bottle of pills, the cap removed. Britney's head slips under water. As her date tries to revive her, a new Britney, alive and unharmed, walks past him, out of the room and out of the hotel. Then she disappears past the paparazzi into the night.
Following a public outcry, Spears' record company pulled the suicide references from the video.
Excuse me for my oversensitivity. This weekend I had to deal with my own bath tub scene. Years ago, a person very close to me wrote:
"I want to drink tonight. I want to take a bottle of vodka and take a long hot bath in my pajamas. Drink the bottle in the bath tub. Toast the new years. And when the bottle is empty, crash it against the bathtub, shattering it. And taking the shards and slitting my wrists, my ankles, my throat. Watching the blood ebb out. I want the pain to stop. I want the loneliness to stop. ..."
This weekend, I had good reason to wonder if that scene would play out for real. It didn't, and it won't - at least this time - but not before some unnerving moments spanning several time zones.
In a stupid and unenlightened world, attempting suicide may be cool and hip. In my world, where I know far too many people with our illness, I live in fear of the dreaded phone call.
In a stupid and unenlightened world, we are all experts in the personal lives of people who don't deserve our attention. Unfortunately, Britney is a victim of the forces that created her. All that fame at an early age poses a severe mental health risk. Just ask Judy Garland, who paid in full measure. She was found on the bathroom floor.
We are all too familiar with the script. Manufactured celebrity flips out. Manufactured celebrity bombs in comeback. Manufactured celebrity ...
Blessed are the pop stars, blessed are the airheads. We created them, we set them up to fall.
One day, Britney may run a bath, just like in that video of hers. Let's pray that she walks out of the bathroom.
For more thoughts on this topic, check out: Britney Spears: The Ups and Downs of a Struggling Pop Star
Published On: September 11, 2007
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