Months of rumors — or has it been weeks? Twitter has eroded our attention spans to the point where everyone thought Jessica Simpson was pregnant for three years, when really it was just nine months, JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER PREGNANCY — were laid to rest Monday when Britney Spears officially joined the judging panel on Fox’s “The X Factor.”
That’s a great move, right? Britney is a huge star, right? Right?
Maybe not. Britney is indeed a huge star and a pop icon. She remains one of the most famous women in the world. But she also appears to be an extremely troubled individual who plays less and less of a role in her career, and life, as time goes on.
In the last five years, since her infamous meltdown where she shaved her head and attacked paparazzi photographers with an umbrella, she’s barely uttered a sentence in public. Her appearances, few as they are, are all extremely calculated. On her 2011 album “Femme Fatale” — one of her best albums! — her voice is tweaked, yanked, pushed and pulled by various producers who concoct songs she seemingly has nothing to do with, turning her into a bit player in her own movie. On her tour behind the album, she was vacant and blank, lumbering through her dance choreography with the dead eyes of a zombie. The Britney we once knew — the tart, fun, effervescent young girl of “Baby One More Time” fame — is a distant memory.
But surely “The X Factor” knows this, right? They’ve vetted her and determined she’s competent enough to appear on a live television show? This definitely isn’t just a ploy by Simon Cowell to grab ratings by exploiting a star, right?
Not so fast. Check out Britney at Monday’s press conference where she was officially announced as part of the “X Factor” team.
That clip looks like it was edited, but it’s not. That was the entirety of what Britney had to say. Ten seconds, 33 words, in and out. And her voice was so shaky it sounded like she was going to burst into tears at any second.
She stood there awkwardly, with one knee cocked, like a shy middle-schooler standing in the corner at her first dance. And it looked like she couldn’t wait to get off stage. Compare that with Demi Lovato, who too has had her troubles — see her rehab stint last year — but who was bubbly and spoke with the enthusiasm of, well, a normal person.
Britney is not a normal person. Not anymore. She’s been under the conservatorship of her father for years, a conservatorship that as of last month is shared by her fiance (and former agent). She’s unstable. Perhaps signing her up for a reality show is not the best idea in the world.
Her appearance at Monday’s press event recalled Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” press conference, where the star spoke only a few words and made promises to an adoring public — and to the people poised to get rich off him — that things were going to be like they used to be. And we all know how that turned out.
There’s definitely money to be made off Britney, and far be it from Simon Cowell to leave that money on the table. As a Britney fan, I sincerely hope the “X Factor” gig turns out for the best and that things turn around for her. But rather than judging singers on a televised competition — has Britney ever proven to have a keen eye for talent? — in an extremely strenuous environment (there are ratings, live TV pressures and the scrutiny of the public to worry about, for starters), it seems like maybe what Britney needs is to go away, be happy and be a mom. Her involvement with “The X Factor” should be limited to a season pass on her DVR.