BEING A CELEBRITY

Let me insert this disclaimer here… I am not telling anyone how to live their lives or condemning them if they don’t share my beliefs. I am merely stating my opinion. I’ve learned that the world does not have to agree with me… and agreeing to disagree helps me sleep at night. I don’t have to be right all the time and sometimes, I’m not even sure I am anyway. In fact, think of this as my point of view from this side of the fence.

Yesterday, the world was shaken to the core by the confession of Britney Spears — “Well, even though I said I was going to wait until I got married, well, no, I’m really not a virgin anymore.” You can read about it here: (http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1473676/20030708/spears_britney.jhtml?headlines=true or at any other major news wire service). I tell you, I did not see this coming! (insert sarcastic laugh here). After all, Britney coyly made the declaration several years ago that though she dressed like she wanted some action, she was going to remain a virgin until she said, “I do,” and people all over the country applauded her stance. I didn’t hold my breath.

The abstinence stance of a few pop stars in the late nineties was the “in” thing because this country, in a desperate attempt to get teens to consider the consequences of unsafe sex, gave these pop icons a lot of press for these statements. Britney wanted to advertise her goods but she didn’t want people to talk about her as if she were a slut, so this declaration, obviously, kept Britney walking the tightrope as she maneuvered through pop stardom with a high profile boyfriend. Before we stone her, I do have to say this. Though she put herself up on that pedestal, very few people can accomplish what she said she was trying to do: wait.

I do know, though, that it’s not impossible to wait. I’m a 34 year-old virgin. I have friends who are virgins and friends who aren’t. I don’t look at them and judge them or refer to them as, “this is *name* my non-virgin friend.” It just doesn’t work that way. There’s enough room in my heart for people who are different than I am, for people who look at life differently than I do. If I didn’t, my life would feel pretty shallow. But I digress…

My roommate gives sex talks to sixth graders and introduces herself as “Texas’ Oldest Living Virgin.” Kids are just astounded that a woman can be 42 years old, not have sex and be totally and completely normal (Jene’ would laugh at the “normal” part). Because of all of the commercials, TV programs and movies that bombard them with the notion that sex is cool, kids think virgins are weird and must never think about sex in order to remain that way. Let me be the first to tell you, this is not true. Virgins date. Virgins kiss. Virgins think about sex. Virgins are sexy. They just choose to wait to have sex until marriage.

Some people wait because of a commitment to God. Some wait because they are afraid of disease. Some wait because they know that if anybody on the planet can get pregnant the first time they have sex… it would be them and they know they aren’t ready to be parents just yet. (Jene’ volunteers as a birthing coach for pregnant teens and you would be amazed at how many 14-16 year olds said it was their first time or said, sadly, “but he said he loved me”). Some were violated as children and have huge issues with the opposite sex and they need to get that figured out first. Some wait because they have older, wiser men and women preach at them and others like some friends of mine who absolutely regret not waiting and beg them to not follow in their footsteps. Regardless of the underlying belief to commit to this challenge, many people wait and wait successfully (they just don’t get their names put in the paper).

All that to say, I think some say they would wait because it’s been the cool thing to say the past decade. They align themselves with the abstinence movement and the headlines follow. The fifteen minutes of fame turns into twenty. To stretch that to twenty five minutes… they come out and say, well, nobody on earth could really do that anyway… and so on.

When I worked in PR the saying was, “Any press is good press.” I beg to differ (and I’m sure Kobe would too). Being a celebrity is about keeping your name out there, visible, on the tip of every tongue that waggles. Since Britney is not even on the back burner any more, I don’t doubt that her most recent declaration is an attempt to rekindle whatever is left of her career. How sad to be at the end of your career at 21, struggling, clawing, doing anything to hang on to what you had instead of saying, “Okay, that was great, now let’s do something new,” and reinventing yourself. She’s lived a quarter of her life and made more money than I will in a lifetime and she doesn’t know what to do with herself now.

Unless Britney gets a grip, she will follow a long line of former stars that will use anything to keep their names in the spotlight. The following are a few tried and true tactics that will add a few minutes to her window of fame. (Note: some people actually go through the following legitimately with no intention to capitalize on it, but I’m not talking about those people).

a) “I’ve found God/become a Christian.” The Christian subculture will pick this up, tattoo that label on the star’s forehead, and extend a career quite a bit… if you like being trapped inside a box. Of course, you see a few people actually make this declaration and mean it, in which case, they usually fade out of the spotlight because they realize the fame is actually sucking the life out of them and they can put their talents to good use — like helping people. (good example of that: Bono)

b) “I’ve moved on from God to (fill in blank of mysticism, guru or combination of religion that suits my purposes).” Again, the Christian subculture will give them tons of press as they crucify the star and the mainstream culture will embrace them temporarily because they’ve “come back to the fold.”

c) “I’ve had a drug problem since kindergarten.” Rehab is so chic right now. People can identify with the triumph of overcoming an addiction. I’ve been sober 9 years on July 22nd and had I known that rehab was so chic, I would have gone so I could write about it and sell some books, get my name in the headlines… oh, wait, I’m unimportant in Hollywood, so it wouldn’t have done me any good anyway.

d) Newsflash: *Big Shot* has nervous breakdown. The nervous breakdown can be played for a ton of sympathy and can be followed up with a triumphant return to the biz with a mediocre movie or CD.

e) My Ex Just Got Married and it Broke My Heart. “But, we’re still best friends, we still write songs together and our children will go to the same Montessori school and also be best friends.” People eat that stuff up.

f) “So what my girlfriend/boyfriend is 20 years older/younger than me! We’re in love!” A good looking couple, with a tie-in to a movie, CD, or well timed scandal, can milk this for a good six weeks then renew interest during the stormy breakup and milk that for a week or two.

and last, but not least…

g) *former child star* caught stealing Powerpuff Girls stickers from Target: This is a good one. First there’s the public disbelief that their little precious could do something that stupid. Then, there’s the trial and the community service in the children’s shelter downtown. This publicity could last for months.

That’s my rant for today…

I so need a job!

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