The media vultures are circling high above the rotting carcass that is Britney Spears’ much-vaunted “career”. Her public image has been mashed and trashed by a concurrent series of disasters that has resulted in the family courts ripping her children from her bosom and placing them in the care of her trailer trash ex mate Kevin Federline. The resultant PR meltdown has given the global media a succulent celebrity carrion, but is it all coming to a sticky end? Predictions suggest that a new idea is spreading through the blogosphere and should soon surface off line that there is a growing fear that Britney might take her own life.
Ah.. the price of celebrity. Trust me, there is one whether it’s Britney or some reality show throwaway who has enjoyed the fruits of their 15 minutes, but is left longing for the adoration that has now disappeared. Omens about Britney’s struggles are a portent to doom. While writing my book on the art of the uber flacks – The Fame Formula – I discovered countless examples of discarded studio stars taking their lives after being spectacularly ignored by the studios. Perhaps one of the most public suicides was that of Peg Entwistle in 1933. A starlet who had become famous on Broadway, made her way to Hollywood to pursue a movie career. Suffering numerous knock backs and snubs from the studios, Entwistle’s depression became aggravated until she finally took her own life at 24. She claimed to be going to a drugstore, but instead walked up to the foot of the giant Hollywoodland sign made up of 50 ft high white letters (the last four letters were removed in 1949). She climbed the maintenance ladder to the top of the letter H and jumped to her death.
It seems meaningful PR advice has deserted the sinking ship and the raft of stories indicate that there isn’t a flack defending what’s left of her image. Is Britney another Peg pushed and pulled by her drive for media adoration? I suggest the celebrity obsessed cycle has reached a point where it needs a martyr. I get a strong feeling that the countless blogs and supermarket titles are unwittingly pushing the troubled star to the edge. It seems there is no credible media advice on hand to throw her a life line. The pages and pages of conspiracy theories surrounding Princess Diana confirm that her value is still high and I suspect, apart from the families involved, the Fourth estate would prefer that the inquest leave the mystery intact to grow and grow as the decades pass. Diana’s mythic-martyr status has reached an unprecedented level, and I think what Britney would be worth if she did the unthinkable.
The advance in technology is a reason for the growing trend in celebrity brands’ image rights being exploited long after their death. If only Peg had jumped off the H sign in the 21st century.