“Oops, I Did It Again…and One Time Too Many”

Until I read an article in last week’s Press Democrat describing how the name “Britney” has had as rapid a decline in popularity as the pop star herself, I hadn’t really thought about names as being a very real indicator of what people think about a celebrity or public figure. But the fact that the name “Britney” is currently about as popular for girls on the naming charts as “Voldemort” is for boys is evidence to me that people think Britney Spears has gone from merely outrageous to certifiably crazy.

When parents are considering baby names, I’m sure they imagine a scene where someone comes up to them and says, “Oh, what a beautiful little girl, what’s her name?” And if they said “Britney,” the picture that pops into everyone’s head is a drug-addled bloated blond has-been pop tart.

There has been a lot of unbecoming behavior by a lot of celebrities and the fact that their names are still a popular option for parents means that someone thinks they must have some redeeming qualities ““ maybe even if it is just skin deep. As an example, in spite of a sex tape, jail time, and inane reality show, “Paris” is still almost in the top 200 of popular names.

Which makes me wonder, at what point on the timeline of Britney’s episodes of wacky behavior did the public decide that she was beyond redemption? What tipped her over the line so that there is nothing positive associated with Britney? Was it the shaved head incident? Losing custody of her children? Or did Dr. Phil making an emergency visit to her at UCLA Medical Center mean that she had gone beyond the usual celebrity antics and was now a clinical case?

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about Britney, but I do think taking care of your kids and providing a good example for them is important”¦and I’m pretty sure most people think so too. I don’t know this for a fact, but when it became apparent that Britney was acting irresponsibly as a mother and possibly even putting her children in danger was the moment when the public said they had had enough and lost all compassion for Britney.

Who didn’t cringe at watching the clip of Britney on the MTV Video Music Awards, spilling out of her black bikini, being fondled by the male dancers and think, “This isn’t sexy, it’s gross. You have two toddlers. Quit bumping and grinding and get home to your kids!”

It is very different watching Britney on a show like that than watching an actor who ““ in real life is also a mother ““ play a sexy, flirty, or even dangerous role in a movie. What is so disturbing is that Britney doesn’t seem to be playing a role. The trashy persona we see on stage and on the street actually seems to be who Britney is in real life.

Britney certainly isn’t the first celebrity to not be a “Mother of the Year” nominee. In fact, “Mommie Dearest” is a cliché of the evil celebrity mother. It’s just that Britney is doing her damage out in public where everyone can see.

Actually, I see the rejection of Britney as a positive thing; stints in rehab and just plain stupid behavior can be forgiven but we don’t have any tolerance for watching someone drag their kids through it all. As accepting as America is of many kinds of eccentric behavior, when it comes to how kids are treated, there is a bottom line.

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