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January 22nd, 2008

Britney’s Obit – Not News

Since Britney Spears has uncharacteristically kept herself below the radar for the last week, papers are scrambling to fill their pages with something about their most illustrious train wreck. A week without word on Britney and - to the modern media, at least - the world stops spinning.

And so they come up with this: The Associated Press Already Has an Obituary for Britney Spears. The media is shocking and tantalizing their vapid crowds with the distressing news that The Associated Press, those bloodthirsty hound dogs, have already gone so far as to write the troubled, former pop star right off this Earth. How callous! How cruel! How dare they!

In truth, however, this has nothing to do with Britney or the cold-blooded sharks that swim the waters of American and British media.

After recently reading The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasure of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson and Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers by Alana Baranick, Jim Sheeler, and Stephen Miller, I can assure you that this latest bit of "news" is anything but.

In fact, I can't fathom why everyone is so shocked, or why the media is making such a big deal out of this (oh, wait, yes I do - sensationalism, true or no, sells).

The fact is, this is a very common practice for prominent newspapers wherein celebrities - especially ill, elderly, or troubled ones - are concerned. Anyone can do a little research into the world of obit-writing and learn that obits for some of the world's most prominent persons are ready to go at a moment's notice in the advent of their demise. In fact, some celebs even offer to do "obit interviews" to help the obituary writers out with their eventual and someday-will-be-needed last write-up.

This is a common practice for every celebrity or noteworthy person the world over - not just Britney Spears. And this certainly not the work of some forward-thinking news hounds forecasting the inevitable.

As if there aren't enough newsworthy and important things to be reporting on in the world, the media has to make up sensational and pointless stories about Britney Spears just to feel as if they're writing something relevant. What is this world coming to, I ask you?

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