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Britney Spears' Divorce And The Media Circus: Mental Health And Meaningless Spectacle

22 August 2023 | 5:34 pm | Jessie Lynch

We must consider the lessons of the past.

Britney Spears + Sam Asghari

Britney Spears + Sam Asghari (Instagram)

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You’ve no doubt — willingly or not — been bombarded with the recent news of pop star Britney Spears’ impending divorce from her partner of six years, Sam Asghari.

Amid the announcement, all eyes are now on Spears' use of social media, especially her Instagram account, with millions now analysing and speculating about every video she shares – even the most ordinary ones.

This constant scrutiny of her social media presence is a big problem.

In an era where the boundaries between private life and public spectacle have become increasingly marred, the media circus surrounding Britney Spears' divorce has truly become a stark reminder of the moral complexities we often neglect.

For more than 20 years, Spears has been an unstoppable force in the music and entertainment industry. She's won over millions of fans with her amazing talent, charisma, and captivating performances.

But her journey hasn't been easy, and her well-known struggles with mental health remind us that fame doesn't shield anyone from vulnerability.

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Her very public struggles with mental health culminated in a now-infamous mental breakdown back in 2007, which was no doubt exacerbated by the relentless media coverage — particularly at a time in which young female celebs were treated abhorrently and mocked amid public mental health struggles (read: Amy Winehouse and Amanda Bynes).

Amid her divorce from Kevin Federline — just two months after Britney gave birth to the pair’s second child — the media feasted on her vulnerability, and the paparazzi hounded her relentlessly, capturing images that only perpetuated the narrative of a "fallen star."

Images of the Baby One More Time singer shaving her head were splashed across countless magazine covers, often accompanied by a headline blasting her as a “bad mother” and “out of control”.

Most shockingly, a “Britney death poll” — located at and a US radio show — was even created where people were urged to guess when the singer would take her own life after losing custody of her children, the prizes ranging from cash to iPods to a PlayStation 2.

It's a cautionary tale of how a person's genuine struggles can be twisted into fodder for entertainment.

Instead of offering understanding and empathy, the media pounced on her vulnerabilities for profit, cementing the idea that a celebrity's personal turmoil is a mere spectacle.

Britney’s subsequent conservatorship battle against her father, Jaimie Spears, would be yet another battle — and it again brought her personal struggles into the public eye, and all eyes were again on her as she navigated a life outside the bubble she was unwillingly locked in for 13 years.

Flash forward to today, and it's concerning to see history potentially repeating itself.

As news broke of the divorce from Britney’s husband of 14 months last week, the rumour mill went into overdrive with whispers of infinitely, abuse, and other unsubstantiated claims, with media outlets around the world feverishly posting headlines based on innocuous Instagram videos, such as, Is Britney Spears Doing Drugs?, Britney Spears' wild night: Singer's male friend LICKS her leg during raucous divorce party and Britney Spears posts topless Instagram video amid divorce.

It’s a worrying parallel to the cruel tabloid headlines at the time of her 2007 breakdown, and while celebrity news is undoubtedly a part of pop culture, it's crucial to recognise the power dynamics at play.

The media's amplification of these videos and posts, dissecting her every move, outfit, and acquaintance, strips away any semblance of privacy and veers into a territory that could negatively impact Spears’ mental well-being.

The headlines, the speculative narratives, the intrusive coverage of her Instagram posts - it all amounts to a disturbing obsession with her personal life. As consumers, it's important to ask ourselves: What purpose does this serve? Are we genuinely concerned for her well-being, or are we voyeuristically consuming her pain?

We must consider the lessons of the past.

The continuous invasion of her privacy, the reduction of her intricacies to sensational headlines, and the disregard for her mental health all contribute to a pattern that should be broken, not perpetuated.

It's time we reevaluate the way we consume and report on it. Sensationalising the personal lives of public figures for the sake of a headline serves only to create a culture that prioritises voyeurism over empathy.

We all have an obligation to question the purpose of such coverage and its potential consequences, especially when it comes to someone like Britney Spears, who has already faced major personal demons in full view of the public eye.

Let us prioritise the well-being of individuals over the ‘stories’ that serve no purpose except to fuel gossip and feed the relentless appetite for scandal, and let us make sure we learn from our prior mistakes.

It's time to break the cycle of harmful scrutiny and instead support individuals, like Britney, after all, they’re just as human as the rest of us.

If you are suffering from any of the issues that have been discussed or need assistance, please contact Lifeline at 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue at 1300 22 4636.