At 4:53 p.m., we received an email from Henry Seltzer at US Weekly informing us that the magazine had confirmed that in the event that Britney Spears dies, the Associated Press had an obituary written and ready to ship to the tens of thousands of news organizations that subscribe to its service. A few minutes later I IM-ed Anna, suggesting we sponsor an obituary writing contest, daring you readers to humor her while she was still alive with the type of false dignity and imagined significance she would no doubt be awarded posthumously in the pages of the Times. And about ten minutes after that Anna called me with some odd news: that the photo agency X17 had just posted a gallery of photos of Britney, labeled "EXCLUSIVE: BRITNEY SPEARS NOT PREGNANT" wherein a close-up of her crotch — clad in white panties and ripped fishnets — was displayed. The white panties were red with menstrual blood.
Usually when people in photos are bleeding I get a queasy feeling and have to lie down, but with Britney I just stared for a few minutes. And got up to grab a yogurt. I tried to figure out when I'd be getting my period, failed, and sat down again. (And ate some dates. Maybe soon? Whatevs.)
The moment this woman ceased to be an exaggerated symbol of the distinctly American phenomenon that is "peaking in high school" and started being something different entirely was so long ago no one even remembers it anymore. Was it that first guy she married? Breaking up with Justin? "Do you believe in...time travel speed?" We say we want her to come back, but hello! No we don't! All she ever was to this country was a celebration of our dumbest, vapidest, most brainless guiltiest guilty pleasures. Even her voice is like... the auditory equivalent of Bugle corn snacks. And there I go again, with the overwrought analogies we all use to justify the time I just spent trying to inject meaning into that which is ultimately devoid of meaning, substance into an individual who has none. Who was never allowed to have any.
Anna called up the agency to see how much the period photos were fetching. "They're not for sale right now," she was told. But they're currently visible on their blog. "It was clear she was conflicted about them," said Anna of the woman who co-owns the photo agency. But in this business you don't really feel conflicted until the thing's already up on the internet. UPDATE: Hence with the "obituary writing contest." I was making a point by admitting that. See here for another example an attempt to make this same point.