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2019 / 06 / 26
Britney Spears was thrust into the spotlight at an early age. Her parents actively sought work for Britney when she was only 8 years old. She became a superstar at the age of 16 with her debut single "... Baby One More Time".
At the time of her most notable meltdown in 2007, she was in the midst of a messy divorce, had a picture of her vagina taken by paparazzi circulated, was in and out of rehab, and had a close relative die from cancer, all while preparing her 5th studio album. The events that took place eventually lead to her losing joint custody over her children and being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. She would later equate her life to being in a prison.
Throughout her troubled years, Spears developed several personalities. It's uncertain whether they were created out of personal choice or were a product of multiple personality disorder. At times she would adopt a playfully catty personality with a British accent (her grandmother was English).
The incident highlights media exploitation, mental health issues celebrities can face, morbid curiosity of the public, the difficulties of childhood stardom, and the unintended isolation that can occur when celebrities attract too much attention.
Astonishingly, she managed to maintain her career throughout this time, regain custody of her children, and get her life back on track.
Video demonstrating the often incessant paparazzi Spears has had to endure at times.
Dateline NBC, June 2006
Spears laments the paparazzi with Matt Lauer at the outset of her infamous meltdown.
Spears shaving her head.
Spears attacking a paparazzo's vehicle with an umbrella.
Primetime ABC, November 2003
Years before her meltdown, during an interview with Diane Sawyer, a certain line of questioning appears to trigger a personality switch in Spears. After regaining control, she seems to assess what had happened and becomes extremely embarrassed. While this in itself is chilling, the moment also exemplifies the media's indiscriminate exploitation of people and events to escalate their profile.