The Britney Chronicles: Portrait of a Struggle

Britney Spears may not be Hip-Hop, but her issues could give any MC or R&B singer a run for their money. There’s not enough ink to document her drama, but the paparazzi always seem to keep us in the loop with whatever is happening to the troubled former Mouseketeer. Nevertheless, Spears has managed to defy those who have plotted her downfall after a less than stellar performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. Her latest album, Blackout, debuted at number two on the Billboard album charts. And while songs such as “Gimme More” and “Piece of Me” prove she’s still got it musically, the singer’s personal life is becoming the reason for her relevancy in the pop culture universe. In fact, Spears has become her own street team of sorts, as she’s done more on her own to keep her name alive than any record label ever could. It’s enough to make someone lose their mind. Or rather their hair as Spears walked in to a Los Angeles hair salon more than a year ago to shave her head. Add to that a few trips to rehab and an attack on the paparazzi with an umbrella, and you have the consequences of being a prisoner of your own fame. Then there are the rumors of drug use. With erratic behavior during a photo shoot for OK! Magazine and extended periods of time spent in the bathroom, it’s easy to see why the publication’s editor Sarah Ivens said that “Her behavior was such a cry for help.” But as the saying goes, controversy sells. Hate it or love it, Spears is hot. She sells tabloids and attracts TV viewers. According to E! Online, photo agencies make around $4 million annually by snapping shots of Britney. A magazine that features the singer’s picture on the cover sells about 33 percent more copies. From January 2006 to July 2007, Spears was featured on the covers of People, Us Weekly, In Touch, Life & Style, OK! and Star 175 times. Financially, that translated into $360 million worth of newsstands sales. If that doesn’t say anything, then maybe Britney being the most searched for person for six of the last seven years on the annual Yahoo search rankings will resonate. Searches for the singer were up 60 percent in 2007. To put it plain and simple, anything involving Spears totals an estimated $75 million in annual media revenue. So yeah, she’s kinda hot. And Britney seemingly knows this as she courts the paparazzo, who offer to drive her home after a night of thrills. And as the other saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. Britney rebounded from her marriage to Kevin Federline by taking on paparazzi photographer Adnan Ghalib as her new companion. Despite talks of her issuing a restraining order against him, Ghalib says they are still an item. Legally, Spears is battling K-Fed for custody of their two kids as she struggles to hold onto her lawyers. The legal team filed a request to be excused from the singer’s child custody case on Jan. 2. According to the law firm of Trope & Trope, “There has been a breakdown in communications between [Spears] and Trope & Trope making further representation of her interests impossible.” Still, the lawyers are staying on the case. Although a hearing on their conflict with Spears was scheduled for Feb. 4, the firm’s request was withdrawn. Legalities aside, Britney’s mental state is also in question as the Spears family called popular talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw to meet with the troubled diva. McGraw soon found himself entangled in the chaos, as he came under fire from the family who said he crossed the line for making public statements that Britney was in dire need of medical and psychological help. McGraw later admitted that he regretted making the comments, but didn’t violate the family’s trust. And if things couldn’t get more twisted, Spears’ father James was recently named conservator of her life and estate a day after the singer went in for an evaluation at UCLA Medical Center’s psychiatric hospital. According to the Associated Press a conservatorship is granted by the court when it determines that a person cannot care for themselves or handle their affairs. As this was happening, doctors extended Britney’s state at the medical center by an additional 14 days. But things took yet another turn days later, as the singer was released early from the psych ward against the wishes of her parents, who said they were deeply concerned about her “safety and vulnerability and we believe her life is presently at risk.” And there seems to be no sign of a slowdown for Spears and her ongoing dilemmas. The singer’s mother Lynne recently filed a restraining order against Britney’s manager and friend Sam Lufti, claiming that he virtually held Britney hostage in her home, drugged her, took over her finances and controlled the paparazzi “like a general.” Under the court order, Lufti cannot get within 250 yards of Britney, her homes, her family’s homes and the hospital where she’s staying. Despite the tribulations and speaking with a British accent, Britney has gotten support from people such as Backstreet Boys member A.J. McLean and supermodel Heidi Klum, who offered her home as a place for the pop diva to stay while she gets back on track. Even Paris Hilton chimed in as she called Spears “a great mother.” “I wish the best for her and I just wish everyone would leave her alone so she could live her life,” Hilton told E! News. Leaving her alone may be easier said than done. But if the Associated Press is an indicator, we could be reminiscing over Britney in the not too distant future. The organization is reportedly preparing an obit to run on the 26-year-old star whenever she kicks the bucket. For her sake, let’s hope Britney wants more.

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