South Park came to Britney Spears’ defense in the most South Park way possible all the way back in 2008.
Since …Baby One More Time debuted in January 1999, Britney Spears has lived her life in the eyes of the media, and all of that time under the celebrity microscope has done considerable damage to the singer’s life and overall mental health. The recent documentary Framing Britney Spears has brought attention to much of this in recent days, but South Park was calling attention to media martyr culture all the way back in 2008.
For a lot of people, …Baby One More Time was the first time they really got to know Britney, but her time in the spotlight started years earlier. Her journey began with a trip to Atlanta at the age of eight to audition for a reboot of The Mickey Mouse Club, and while she might not have landed the role then, she did get cast in the series in 1992, alongside Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell, Ryan Gosling and Christina Aguilera.
Once her debut album hit, superstardom quickly followed. Unfortunately, the problem with riding that high is the trip down is rough, and the media seemed to revel in it. Framing Britney Spears discusses the singer’s rise and fall but also spends a significant amount of time discussing the conservatorship she has been stuck in with her father since 2008.
Ironically, also in 2008, South Park dropped an episode titled “Britney’s New Look.” When Britney tried to have a quiet camping trip near South Park, the media tracked her down, including Stan, Kyle and Cartman, who decided to capitalize on the situation by getting photos of her. After that, things would become so hectic that Britney attempts suicide.
Fortunately, she survived, but everyone around her kept leaching off her while others constantly judged her. Stan and Kyle stepped up to help, which is when the episode essentially becomes the plot of the classic short story, “The Lottery.” As per the story, Britney had been chosen to be sacrificed in exchange for a good harvest.
It’s a bleak story but an honest one. In 2008, South Park was calling out the media’s treatment of Britney for what it was, cultural martyrdom. The media built her up to huge levels of popularity, then tore her down with little or no compassion for what this did to the human being. The fact that Britney’s current conservatorship, as discussed in Framing Britney Spears, started that same year that episode debuted isn’t really a coincidence.