mayjailer (mayjailer) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,

Revisiting Rolling Stone's "The Tragedy of Britney Spears"

On February 21, 2008, the first of two Rolling Stone covers starring Britney Spears that year hit newsstands. Using a portrait of Spears taken in 2004, it invited readers "inside an American tragedy," by way of a nine-page story by then-contributing editor Vanessa Grigoriadis.

Unable to secure a sit-down with her troubled subject, the journalist's contact with Spears, "a perfectly-proportioned porcelain doll with a nasty weave," was limited to distant encounters as she tagged along with paparazzi from (Grigoriadis would later cite the website's founder, Sheeraz Hasan, as her primary source.)

"The Tragedy of Britney Spears" seemed to confirm several longstanding rumors about Spears—that she'd had, and swiftly removed, breast implants in her late teens, and had consummated her relationship with Justin Timberlake long before publicly proclaiming abstinence—and suggested that she'd been abusing pills prior to her first hospitalization on January 3 of that year. It painted her, not as a young woman in the throes of a mental health crisis, but as a chain-smoking "inbred swamp thing," "arrogant, anxiety-ridden and paranoid."

Below, eight of the story's most illuminating and/or sensational passages.

Read more...Collapse )

Full story at the source.

Shout out to frejasface, whose "Notorious" series inspired this post!
Tags: 2000s, britney spears, magazine covers and articles, rumors / gossip, time warp

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The Britney coverage is what brought me to ONTD. I remember that night. It was probably way past midnight and going through my own mental health struggles. ONTD kept updating, minute by minute, on the police scanner saying that Britney was holding one of her sons “hostage”. Then the helicopters over her house taking pictures and pictures of her on that gurney. Then the paparazzi being assholes and taking pictures of her in the ambulance. She had no privacy whatsoever. When you combine all this, it is easy to see why she had a breakdown. It was a dark time in her life. She’s stronger than most people give her credit for.


July 22 2021, 03:41:01 UTC 1 week ago Edited:  July 22 2021, 03:41:58 UTC

i didn't include it in the post, but there is a passage about her january 31 hospitalization that's disgusting:

"Seventy-five paps gather around the entrances to Britney's gated community, stamping their feet in the chilly winter night, as a police helicopter circles overhead. 'You don't want an ambulance to roll out with a body bag and miss that,' says a French photographer, checking his battery. These guys are jaded after all that's happened. 'Man, Britney can't die, because then I don't get my money!' says a guy in a Famous Stars and Straps hat."
A pap agency owner who followed Britney at the time was interviewed for a BBC documentary on fame in the early 00s and I have never in my life wanted so badly to swing for someone. The bastard wasn't just unrepentant, he was gleeful.


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I remember this article when it came out. I've read it a few times again and it was just a mess. That whole moment in pop culture was truly something. I remember being at a restaurant when the head shaving happened and the place was like dead silent watching the coverage
I remember reading the article back then but only a few parts stuck out in my mind

“In person, Britney is shockingly beautiful—clear skin, ruby lips, a perfectly proportioned 26-year-old porcelain doll with a nasty weave.”

That whole passage, and then I remember the author shaded her choice of clothing to try on saying that it was more fit for teenagers, and also that she knocked a fan of soda over and everyone just ignored it while it spilled out from under the dressing room

At least that’s what I think was said lol
you're right, i condensed that bit for the post. she shades the crop top she buys as not being for anyone older than 17, and as britney storms out of the boutique soda spills out from her dressing room.
Same. Wok-n-Roll in DC and my sister quietly cried at the table. It was surreal and sad to watch. That woman is resilient.


July 22 2021, 12:18:50 UTC 1 week ago Edited:  July 22 2021, 12:31:05 UTC

As someone in my mid thirties who has been on this site since college, I have been reflecting on how my engagement with pop culture influenced my body image, self belief, sexuality and mental health. It has been a WILD ride.

On ONTD we used to have posts about like "Oops Denise Richards flashed her labia at the beach!" or "Lindsay Lohan didn't wear underwear to the club!" I am grateful that as a society we have moved past upskirting celebrities as a way to get web traffic, but that was a sinister time. There was very limited analysis in the popular culture-this was when think pieces were relegated to like, thought catalog. I'll never forget the 2006 article about Girls Gone Wild where that Joe whoever person ~playfully~ slammed the journalist Claire Hoffman in to the hood of a car and almost broke her arm. That article is worth revisiting too, if one can stomach it. According to wikipedia, it is still the most read story on the LA Times website.


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Being a celeb is horrifying. Looking at the pic I totally get why Britney doesn't like to dwell on the past and how she hated that media/doc brought up her "humiliating" moments.

I don't think I could make it as a celeb cause of the archive aspect of the internet. These articles, unflattering pictures, soundbites etc...etc are FOREVER on the stored on the internet. You have no control whatsoever over your own person in a way.
I’ve been on ontd a long time and unfortunately this is the way people on here would speak about her.
someone in the last post britney posted a link a 2007 post where Britney had lost custody of her kids.

The comments are D E P O R A B L E!! You got people saying she deserves it, laughing at her situation, and some suicide expectations. It's only a very tiny percent of commentators that anything kind to say.
Yeah I came here from Dlisted and it was such a cruel time everywhere. Perez was the worst for sure but ONTD def was up there
Yup. This made me curious about posts about her back then and a ton of the comments are that she's a spoiled brat that brought this on herself.
Right up until the documentary was released, Britney posts on this site would always have several mean comments.
people would always make fun of the #freebritney crowd as conspiracy nutters that needed to touch grass. Then it turned out the truth was even worse than what they had been saying.
this entire post breaks my heart
bush era pop culture was so toxic. they really wanted this girl to kill herself. some of these magazines probably even had the headlines ready to go to print
that was a huge thing at the time, the associated press' obituary for her leaked
Tbf every major newspaper/magazine has the obituary already written for every public figure /big celebrity.

Gross it was leaked though
I feel like as a young girl I internalized so much of that shit and it still is with me at 31. it's fucked.
The internet and people here were horrible to her, is amazing how much (and so little!) society has been changing. I couldnt believe how mean people were. Like people were excited and laughing at everything being reported.

Mental health is still a joke to people, but one of the few good things about sm is people being vocal about their own struggle s and so many ( myself included) feel less alone thanks to that.
I feel ill reading this jfc

I remember it all too, I was just so young at the time this kind of abuse directed at her by the media and female celebs at large felt eerily normalized
I started watching that YT 'documentary' last night but couldn't finish it. Those days where you were literally surrounded by paps that you had to tell them to move because they were blocking your way. She was controlled from such a young age, I forgot how she had that 55hour marriage in Vegas and as soon as people found out all the lawyers swooped in to annul it. That seemed to be the first example of her rebelling. Just insane.


July 22 2021, 15:42:00 UTC 1 week ago Edited:  July 22 2021, 15:43:31 UTC

As much as that whole thing was a terrible idea and she would have lived to regret it... looking back on it in view of what's happened with the c-ship puts a whole new light on the way they just descended and went straight to protect the money. (edit: I mean, not that it wasn't already obvious they were concerned she'd got married without a pre-nup, but it just looks extra sinister now)
I remember exactly where I was when I first saw this magazine cover. I remember feeling so sad for this beautiful soul, knowing how tormented she was by the media. She deserved so much better.
Has Rolling Stone ever apologized for the fact that they put an underage Britney Spears in a soft porn pose on their cover back in 1999 for thousands of creepy old men to masturbate to?

With the subtitle for the article being "Inside the Heart and Mind (and Bedroom) of Britney?"

With an opening paragraph of "[17-year-old] Britney Spears extends a honeyed thigh across the length of the sofa, keeping one foot on the floor as she does so. Her blond-streaked hair is piled high,exposing two little diamond earrings on each ear lobe; her face is fully made-up, down to carefully applied lip liner. The BABY PHAT logo of Spears’ pink T-shirt is distended by her ample chest,and her silky white shorts — with dark blue piping — cling snugly to her hips. She cocks her head and smiles receptively."

No? Okay, fuck them then, they're complicit in what happened to her over the years.
rolling stone has done so much fucked up shit over the years, they would run out of characters in the notes app before apologizing for all of it
that is straight up verbal masturbation over an underage girl. Sickening.
Out of all her boyfriends i feel Adnan Ghalib was the best fit. Her current bf is a MAGAT. Adnan is the lesser of all the evils shes been through.
we don't know that about sam for certain. britney is very liberal, and i can't imagine she would be with someone that subscribes to maga ideology... of course, i could be wrong, but i hope not.
she didn't lose it all, it was stolen from her
This article was trash, seems like the writer just wanted to get points for saying cruel shit about Britney. I saw on Twitter that she had praised Ronan Farrow for his article 🙄
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