Category Archives: Identity

Society’s Celebrity Bloodlust Complex and Britney Spears


Last Saturday, I sadly missed a special presentation of something called “The Fall of Britney Spears” or something like that on E! Channel, a sad commentary on our society that used to be Vancouver Island’s TV station.

I don’t like Britney Spears’ music or PR thing very much at all, but we are both parents of two children so suddenly I have a good degree of empathy for her. I’ve also always been rather concerned about celebrity microscope effect, long before the death of Princess Diana.

But this show on E! Channel was about reviewing recent events detailing Britney’s “fall.”

Though I missed the show, I thought about it every time I saw the trailer for the film Untraceable. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but it seems that one of the plot elements of the movie is that some killer fellow has set up some sort of murder machine that will kill someone at some point, a point which accelerates closer when a greater number of people visit some website. So people’s participation in the spectacle makes them complicit in a murder.

You can even try out http://www.killwithme.com and take part in the movie/murder/complicity spectacle on your own in an ironic, self-reflexive nod to the plot device.

It seems to me that everyone who watched that Britney Spears show on E! Channel last week [and every other act of celebrity obsession] is complicit in the struggles she is now enduring. And while we can callously wipe it all away by saying she voluntarily chose to become a celebrity, that is insufficient to excuse what truly appears to be a celebrity bloodlust complex. We like to build up people to be larger than life, but at the same time we are always looking for excuses to bring them back down to earth to make sure they aren’t better than us.

I expect sociologists have much more to say on this, and those who have seen Untraceable will be able to confirm how much this observer complicity is significant in the movie, but in the end, the movie may be a strong metaphor for our role in Britney Spears’ tribulations.

Sassy Indian Squaw: Imagine, Create, Transform?

“This sexy indian costume comes with suede corsetted dress with leather fringe and matching anklet.”

It’s the “Sassy Indian Squaw” Halloween costume and shock of shocks, it is going around the internet as a symbol of offense to all sorts of people. A few ironies lurk in the background, particularly in BC.

1. Halloween Mart’s website boasts Imagine, Create and Transform as their motto. It’s hard to see how this costume accomplishes any of that.

2. For the second time this year, a local First Nation has voted to ratify a treaty with the Crown. Regardless of where you stand on the content/process of these treaties this year, the Maa-Nulth have voted to imagine, create and transform.

At least some are able to move past the past. Too bad we all can’t.

You can contact Halloween Mart here to let them know what you think of their sexy Indian squaw and her matching anklet.

Four Dogs, a Bone, Some Inner Truths and Rich Hilarity

Four Dogs and a Bone, playing at Havana Theatre on Commercial Drive
until Sunday, August 12, is an effortlessly funny play that has just
enough meandering through core identity neuroses for the audience to
appreciate the gravity of being, particularly the being of expressive,
artistic people. It quite simply succeeds.

As a movie producer, screenwriter and two hapless ingénues endure the
petty interpersonal dynamics and corporate demands of completing a film,
each ends up exposing their desperation as they try to find their
centre. Throughout, their base yet authentic struggles frequently leave
the audience in comedic bliss.

The play has the needling uncomfortability of enduring an evening in
Archie Bunker’s living room, complete with the rich circumstantial,
sometimes narcissistic, sometimes brutal humour that attends needy
people working out their self-acceptance. The intimate environment of
the seating in Havana’s theatre adds to the experience of being trapped
in someone else’s melt-down.

The characters drift through priceless, occasional moments of gaudy
caricature to a place of honesty. Like all of us, they each seek moments
of safety to share their truths with those who are worthy of listening
and supporting them.

Artists struggle with self-acceptance while balancing the need to be
vulnerable as individuals and performers. When they are thrust together
to create such a collaborative project as a film, the situation invites
the kinds of clashes that force each person to rise above their persona
and their character to achieve true human honesty. Their ineptitude,
though, is often just hilarious.

As Bradley, the psychologically and physiologically decomposing
producer, Michael Q. Adams embodies the physical manifestation of
pressure with grit and acute comedic suffering. Brenda, played by Olesia
Shewchuk, projects a pristinely false vulnerability within a struggling
superficiality that masks her particular neediness.

Lori Watt’s magnetic Collette, while at times almost glancing around for
Mr. DeMille’s closeup, carries her truths so close to the surface that
the others, if they were not so engrossed in their own internal
psychological minefield, would undoubtedly grow to know. Finally,
Gabriel Carter’s emotionally spent screenwriter, Victor, unknowingly and
ironically holds the central situational power despite the drifting
through the fog of his own emptiness.

While each character clashes with the others in their desire to be
heard, the audience ends up enjoying the comedy inherent in the human
soul as it clumsily seeks its surface. And the laughing flows—from
delightful physical humour to the guilty pleasure of chuckling at
caricatures that are trite masks for the struggle for truth that we all
face.

As the characters strive to make their art mean something—for itself and
for them—they show us how we all struggle to overcome our own masks to
find true liberation. And because so many of us are so bad at it, we
stumble and then get to learn the lesson of laughing at ourselves.

Four Dogs and a Bone reminds us of the necessity of exposing our truths
while keeping a healthy sense of humour about us.