If Britney Spears had never become famous, she’d probably be quietly squeezing out welfare babies in some Louisiana trailer park. She might be married to some three-toothed Cletus, living off of her settlement money from the time she slipped at Wal-Mart, and wondering what might have been if she had gone to that Mickey Mouse Club audition when she was nine. It may not have been a perfect life, but in many ways, it would’ve been better than turning into a bald-headed crazy pants in front of the entire world.
Britney was never cut out for fame. At least not the kind of fame that force you to fake your virginity at 16 and keeps you in front of paparazzi cameras for the rest of your natural life. She’s a sad case in a lot of ways. Forced to face pressure and scrutiny that most of us will never know at the height of her awkward phase, Britney has suffered the kind of public ridicule and lack of a private life that would take a toll on anyone, and it nearly ruined her. I mean, let’s not feel too sorry for Brit. The pile of money she sleeps on is probably pretty good for drying tears. Point is, she’s paid a price for that outrageous fortune.
Naturally, Brit’s meltdown came to mind for a lot of people last week when video of fellow ex-child star Miley Cyrus smoking a bong hit the internet. But for me, the connection between Britney and Miley ends with the fact that they both hit the big time by suppressing their sluttiness for Disney. I don’t think Miley was blindsided by fame. I think she’s a smarter, savvier Britney 2.0 who saw what happened to the young stars of the generation before hers and quit the fake innocent act as soon as she turned legal. When I look at the video of her clearing a bong like a pro, I don’t see an imperiled young woman trying to cope with the pressures of fame; I see a typical 18 year-old enjoying her youth and success. Miley seems more confident, more aware of what she’s doing than Britney. I bet she wasn’t even surprised when one of her friends leaked the bong tape to TMZ. She knows the price of fame, and she seems determined to keep her notoriety from interfering with being a typical, dumb-@ss teenager. And sometimes being a dumb teen means smoking bongs with your friends.
Similarly, it’s hard to look at Taylor Momsen without thinking of another snotty young actress whose attitude and bad press often overshadowed her talent. In fact, one look at Taylor, with her drunk cougar makeup and slutty underwear outfits, seems to suggest she’s a much bigger train wreck than Lindsay Lohan was at 17. Hell, at that age, Lindsay was still pretending to be a sane, sober part of the Disney machine. Even so, Taylor just seems better suited to the limelight than Lindsay ever was. She doesn’t suffer from the delusion that she can do whatever she wants and still get by on the good girl act. She knows we’re all watching her every move, so she’s open about the fact that she’s a parent’s worst nightmare. As a result, she’ll probably get all this sh!t out of her system while she’s young instead of bottling it up until she becomes a truly insane f*ck-up in her mid-twenties.
The point I’m trying to make is that there are child stars who are driven crazy by the attention and privileges they receive at a young age, and then there are dumb teens sowing their wild oats like the rest of us, but with the misfortune of having to do so in the public eye. The difference is subtle, but you know when you see it. Miley has a chain smoker’s voice and a f*ck it attitude that makes me think she’d be doing the same type of stuff if she was Destiny Hope Cyrus, senior at Hicksville High. At the same age, Britney came off like a confused deer in the headlights, nervously spewing whatever ridiculous words her crazy stage mom put in her mouth. In the same way, Taylor Momsen would still be rockin’ goth slut outfits and freaking out the squares, even if she hadn’t been famous since before she was potty-trained. Lindsay, on the other hand, isn’t some born non-conformist, showing her middle finger to the world. She’s just a scared young girl who never got told, “No” and eventually caved to the temptations that come with fame.
The younger generation of female stars seem less like they’re puppets of some money hungry PR machine and more like chicks who are having a good time doing what young male stars have been doing for generations. I can definitely end up eating my words on this one, but my prediction for Miley Cyrus and Taylor Momsen is that they’ll both end up laughing about their reckless younger days, not telling Dr. Drew about how that bong full of salvia was the beginning of the end. Britney and Lindsay’s lives are one big cry for help. Miley and Taylor’s are more like one big party. Yeah, they’re young, but if I ran into either of these chicks at a club, I wouldn’t try to talk them out of their wicked ways. I’d try to talk them into passing the bong. I’ll look stupid if they’re both knocked up and in rehab by the end of 2011, but for now I feel pretty confident saying the kids are alright.