The author observes that while Spears may not possess the prolific talents or technical craftsmanship of past pop icons, she is no less an icon and superstar within the pop music zeitgeist, and has subsequently set the mold for immediate superstars to follow, such as Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson. The author draws a strong and direct comparison between Spears and Elvis Presley, the rockabilly singer who burst onto the pop music scene in the early 50s.
Towards the end of the 70s, Presley became equally (in)famous to Americans for personal health problems spawned by poor diet and substance abuse as he was for his music and film career. The author strongly implies that the trajectory of Spears career directly parallels that of Presley: riding on the wave of massive success as a very American symbol of success and the all too common descent into personal drama. However, what is to be gleaned from this is not a cautionary tale of professional success and personal misfortune, for those are the cliches that E!
True Hollywood Story specials are made of. Rather, the foundation of the authors argument is that the never-fading spotlight cast upon Spears, in paralleling Presleys, will never fade from public consciousness. The author covertly suggests such by proclaiming that her appeal as a pop culture obsession lies in both her woes and successes, and that obsession persists with unusual longevity because of her status as an American icon.
This makes the trajectory of her fame unlike that of many other celebrities who disappear into obscurity, despite not having made the same mistakes that she has, and in spite of the fact that she garnered far more success than many celebrities could imagine in their lifetime. In effect, Spears, like Presley, stays within the publics imagination because of the stark contrast between career success and personal failure.
Still, it is important to recognize that distinctions still exist between a turn of the 21st century pop music sex kitten and a mid-20th century Southern rock and roll gentleman, especially with regards to how celebrity journalism treats the two. There is a difference between how it regards the behavioral faux pas of male celebrities and female celebrities: ¦recent saturation coverage of female stars in crisis contrasts forcibly with the journalistic restraint often exhibited in relation to male stars.
If current media codes invite/expect us to root against such putatively toxic stars as Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse, it is taken for granted that we root for their troubled male counterparts. (Negra & Holmes) Thus, while the point that Spears and Presley parallel each other in their ability to achieve massive success and monumental self-destruction and the conclusion that neither have or will ever be able to achieve any semblance of normalcy are astute observations, the author neglects taking into consideration the extent to which journalism and the public at large consumes these narratives.
Despite the fact that Presleys twilight years saw him going through the motions of his concerts, his remaining fanbase supported him despite numerous professional shortcomings in these performances. Simply put, fans stayed strong to support him during this difficult phase of his life. In contrast, Spears behavior is viewed largely with derision and mockery, and although her career has regained some moderate footing, she is seen by many as the epitome of the hysterical woman.
Whether or not Spears or Presley deserve their respective public opinions, is not the point, but rather, that such differences lie along media-coded gender lines, is.
Negra, Diane and Holmes, Su. Introduction to GOING CHEAP? Female Celebrity in Reality, Tabloid and Scandal Genres. Genders Online Journal, Issue 48, 2008. Retrieved online on April 18, 2009 from: http://www. genders. org/g48/g48_negraholmes. html