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Remember the Cry Wolf: How The Britney Spears Documentary Highlights Our Willful Ignorance of the Past

Jamal is a graduate of Northeastern Seminary and writes on a broad range of topics. His writings are based on other points of view.

Courtesy of Larry Busacca/WireImage

Courtesy of Larry Busacca/WireImage

When the documentary on Britney Spears came out a few months ago, a lot of people de-cried the situations she had to endure during the 2000’s. Being underaged and yet sexualized by both the music industry and mainstream media, harassed by tabloids, and the terrible stress she underwent having to grow up so quick and so fast under the pressure, people were right to side with her.

At the same time, I couldn’t help but also raise a skeptical eye -brow because much of what people were saying now seemed very familiar. In fact, it reminded me of the same thing that conservatives Christians were saying back in the day about the same time. Right down to the very same accusations of sexualizing women and objectifying them.


Online conversation I had about how people prioritize why and when to listen to warnings.

Online conversation I had about how people prioritize why and when to listen to warnings.

Hate the Messenger

I am no longer a Christian, but I also still try to live by a sense of truth. And what that sense told me was that there was an air of hypocrisy. Not in supporting someone who had been legitimately wrong, but in exclaiming how could such a thing happen and no one not say anything, when in fact something was said?

They had been saying it for years. A Youtube channel recently did a video on the subject matter and I pointed out in the comments that religious people had been saying what the documentary had for years and were laughed at for it:

“The irony of this is that there were religious groups saying this exact same thing during that time and they were laughed at for it. Just saying”

Pretty soon someone responded back saying:

“Probably BECAUSE they were religious. It's not WHAT'S said, but WHO says it that determines HOW it is received.”

And she was right. Religious conservatives have been the butt of ridicule for decades for their antiquated morality and willful ignorance of society’s ills and science. Conservative morality has been seen as the least desirable ideology since the 1990’s.

So when church leaders were de-crying the sexualization of Baby One More Time, it was a case of crying wolf. Those crazy Christians at it again wanting people to believe what they believe and trying to control other people.


Courtesy of Warner Brothers Studios .  Though there should be no such thing as a 'diversity Olympics' Justice League actor Ray Fisher made accusations about Joss Whedon's behavior back in October of 2020.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers Studios . Though there should be no such thing as a 'diversity Olympics' Justice League actor Ray Fisher made accusations about Joss Whedon's behavior back in October of 2020.

Ignore the Message

The thing was however that:

“True. Yet at the same time just because you don't like the messenger doesn't mean you ignore the message. Especially when it comes back to bite you in the ass later on. Consequences don't care about the who, just that it was done”

It was foolish and even just as willfully ignorant to ignore a legitimate warning because you didn’t like who said it. The threat or danger is independent of the messenger and is like gravity: if you jump, you’re going to fall. And ignoring the scientist telling you that isn't going to stop you from injuring or killing yourself.

“Don't personalize this; I was making a general point and it IS true. If people don't like or value the messenger, they will ignore the message. There are plenty of Cassandras in the world.”

To her credit, she was right and I had misspoken in the chat as I wasn't trying to make it personal. She also doubled down on that aspect though that who the messenger is does matter. To me though it started to feel less like a statement of reality and more like a right: that I have the right to ignore what someone is warning me about if I don’t like them and NOT expect that the danger ahead will not happen.

“Wasn't meant to be personal. Apologies, that's on me. Equally ppl not liking the messenger, isn't the point. If someone gets hurt by somebody else when someone they didn't like told them what may happen, whose responsibility is that? Facts are like science, what we like or don't like doesn't matter because the logical end point will remain the same.”

I felt that all the people who were against what happened to Britney were focusing on the wrong point. That goal was the treatment of someone as a human being. If someone saying that was disliked for a particular allegiance they had, it didn't make the message or end result any less important, which in this case was exactly what happened.

“But it doesn't work like that though. People are not robots. If there is a societal bias and dislike of a group then when they come out with prescient comments they're going to be ignored or criticized.”

“Agreed. At the same time the consequences still happen and those same ppl act shocked. Happens with all sides so I'm not picking on one, but it is a fact that what happened with Britney was called out long ago. Same for Weinstein and just recently Whedon where a justice league actor called him out sometime before the Buffy actress did.”


Setting Priorities

My point in all this was not to attack Britney fans and supporters, progressives, or the like. It was to point out two realities, two perspectives that are running parallel of each other, with one always coming out on top. This woman whom I had this discussion with is correct in what she said.

People will often follow their biases and often to their own detriment. That people who criticize social elements will make enemies to the point where society will stop listening. Facts.

The other perspective that runs parallel to this however, is the one that always wins out. Choices and consequences do not care about who said what. It only follows the logical conclusion, and the responsibility of ‘why’ falls on those who chose to ignore it.

This same attitude plays out in other areas such as global warming, global crimes against humanity, and police brutality. We all want reality to play by our rules and expectations. Perhaps the lifestyle that many of us lead has fooled us into believing that such faith is going to pan out. Yet oftentimes, as fans of Britney Spears and progressives are finding out, if karma, the universe, or God is pointing out something to you, get over the mouthpiece it's using and start examining the situation.

Heading a warning doesn't mean you have to like the messenger. It just means that if you truly believe the values you hold are universal, that who is saying it should not matter to you as much as the message of what is being said, because of the effect it will have on those values.

© 2021 Jamal Smith

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