Asra Nomani is best-known today for imploring the press to just forget about fucking Britney Spears already. But Asra Nomani was best-known last summer for being the former best friend of Mariane Pearl who had basically been dropped by Mariane for Angelina Jolie, who played Mariane in the movie A Mighty Heart, and was, for that and various other reasons, declared by Esquire to be the "best person in the world" (in a piece notably criticized as the worst celebrity profile in the world.) I thought hard about ALL THESE THINGS when I read this week's Rolling Stone cover story on Britney Spears, which is sort of the logical sequel to the Angelina Jolie profile; overwrought, over-intellectualized and really fucking good rumination on the transformation of a troubled young girl estranged from her father. Is any of it true, though? Well, at the beginning, Britney gets approached by a nervous fan, who says she's "from the South too" and could she maybe get a picture for her little sister? Lips "almost vibrating with anger," she stares the girl "deep in the eyes" and says "I don't know who you think I am, bitch." (Um, Britney, bitch?) "But I'm not that person." In a way, it's the same thing Nomani is trying to say!
The whole "Rorschach Test" thing is getting a lot of press lately. You see in whatever those things you want to see. Britney is Bush, Angelina is Barack Obama, Barack Obama is Jesus Christ, Hillary Clinton is your mom, Hillary Clinton is your menopausal boss from hell. Nomani knows better than most that none of any of this is true, that it's more complicated than that.
I learned a few things I did not know from the Rolling Stone piece. I did not know that Kevin Federline's lawyers is a "former Israeli operative" who "penetrated the inner circles of Hollyood" in a way "not unlike counterterrorism" or that before he met Britney K-Fed's Chevy was repossessed. Or that the paparazzo who usually manages to get up front during her dramatic car chases is a former Death Row records executive. Or that once upon a time Britney Spears was a polite, well-mannered kid who did all her chores but she was driven to madness in part by two pivotal moments in her life: the trauma of the media mockery following her boob job, and cheating on Justin Timberlake with her choreographer. And there but for the grace of Harvey Levin go all of us?
Is any of this true? It is probably an oversimplification. Is the inspiring tale of Angelina's dramatic turnaround, from troubled self-mutilator estranged from her father to World's Best Person, also an oversimplification? No doubt. Do we tell ourselves stories in order to live? Are the stories in Us Weekly more dangerous than those in the Bible and the Koran? Am I really going to spend another hour I could have spent learning about, I dunno, the fallout of the Pakistani election on that question? I guess I just did.