National Commentary

Johnny’s World: Crap

weir-mugShe grew up in a small town and was destined to be a star. She worked hard; her overbearing stage mother pushed her into every beauty pageant, dance contest, talent show, local carnival, state fair and singing contest that would have her. They did the try-outs, the auditions, the callbacks, and through it all they/she had the dream. One day, she’d make it big, onto television as an actor/singer/dancer. The world seems to be at her fingertips.

Several years later, and she’s still hoofing it, entertaining the masses and getting ready for her big role as pop star. Due to her uncommon common good looks, her wholesome character, and her small-town upbringing, the executives in charge of wrangling her know there is a place for her in the pop A List. One thing they had to have known was that this pop delight, this body that won’t quit, this personality that everyone from porn-addicted middle-aged men to teenage girls could fall in love with, doesn’t sing that well without computer assistance. How is the most important aspect of being a pop star not important?

They’ve paid for the first single to get played all over television and radio; the video image of the sexy schoolgirl humping her hips and seductively licking her lips is instantly viral despite viral not actually meaning anything as YouTube wasn’t around yet. The world is in love with her. To millions of teens she is one of them, and the best singer ever. To every parent, she is the wholesome all-American girl that they’d want their son to marry. To every pervert, her head is already being edited onto porn star naked bodies.

Almost 15 years ago, she broke onto the scene in a major way. Since then she’s been married and divorced, pregnant and single, a drug addict and a redneck, and a hair-shaving mistress of sin. She’s won, lost and re-won peoples hearts. She’s never won a Grammy, and she has yet to give a live singing performance worthy of gushing. Why is it that we still buy Britney’s songs and her music, into the millions, even though we’ve been told she’s a crap singer?

As a culture it seems funny that even though we’re told something is bad or even bad for us, we continue to buy into it because we’re all sheep at times and do as we’re told by the tastemakers and Zeitgeist flyers who dictate that you should eat McDonald’s, buy Britney’s new single, vote Bush into office again, or continue to take medications that can kill. How many times have we seen the lovely commercials for mood-enhancing drugs that take place in a pasture featuring a woman in white silken jammies skipping gracefully, only to be warned a moment later that this pill can lead to anal leakage, loss of eyesight or sex drive and/or death? Do we buy the death or the fact that we, too, could be elegantly skipping through the Irish countryside?

Our pride of indignant personal choice can also prevent us from properly evaluating premeditated crap. If I choose to use my personal energy and time to like Britney, it must be because she’s wonderful. Christina is fat, Whitney liked crack, Mariah robbed the cradle, but Britney, she’s the voice of a generation. If you don’t mind your singers to actually sing, then yes, Britney may be the best to you, although Siri could probably make “Toxic” a hit. Pride is easy to bruise, but it is difficult to re-evaluate. If I think Britney is great, then she is because I said so.

I am a hardcore Aguilera fan, and that is a choice I’ve made because I find her to be an incredible singer. I do not buy her perfumes, nor do I have an interest in her jewelry line, but I will buy her album because I know her singing isn’t crap. Despite all the thought I’ve put into us choosing to like crap and evaluating my personal crap, I have a pretty solid lineup of designers who design, singers who sing and bakers who bake though through it all, I love a deep-fried chicken finger.