Idol Chatter

The press this week about Britney Spears has centered on a single puzzle–what’s going through that newly bald head? For a while, Britney’s life has been “The Truman Show” meets “Real World.” In the past week, reports from the disaster-in-progess have come so frequently we seem to be watching in real-time. The few remaining gaps in the news cycle only give the car-wreck that authentic slo-mo feel. Late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson punctuated her most recent slide when he swore off the Britney jokes because he didn’t want to pick on someone who is so vulnerable.

The question is, when did Britney become so vulnerable? Not last weekend, when she buzzed off her hair in a San Fernando Valley hair salon, then went for a couple of new tattoos. Only Americans, it seems, can repeatedly be shocked when a child star–who, after all, has everything we’d need to be happy, right?–makes a bumpy transition to adulthood. None of us are responsible for what’s happened to Britney–or Judy Garland, Liz Taylor, or lesser lights like the now cleaned-up and Oscar-nominated Jackie Earle Haley. But maybe the Craig Fergusons of the world could clue in earlier when the next generation of wealthy, wattage-weary teenagers begin their swoon.

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