Randy Writes Letters: Britney Spears
The ninth installment of our weekly series Randy Writes Letters. This week Randy writes to pop star Britney Spears, with an intelectual lead in that may have gone over the singers head. The series is a collection of correspondence to influential individuals and organizations, they run the gambit from the hilariously absurd to the serious issue of our time.
Dear Britney Spears,
My girlfriend and I were driving around today when we drove past a store being operated out of some woman’s garage called “Gift Fun Shop.” Obviously we decided to circle back around the block to check it out. Upon circling the block we then passed a garage sale, so, after visiting “Gift Fun Shop” and having a grand old time, we made another half circle and went to the garage sale. We had nothing better to do with our day. It was actually one of the better garage sales we’ve been to lately, even though I only ended up buying a book for fifty-cents called “Thoughts of the Young Radicals,” published in 1966, no less. Any which way, I took to reading this book because I find hippie politics quaint.
During my literary orgy of self-amusement I came upon upon a passage relating to the Vietnam War, lack of domestic social reform and the “impotence” of the general public to influence government decision-making that I found really interesting. Essentially this writer guy, Todd Gitlin, says that the public has been pushed out of politics by an elite group’s self-interest in free enterprise and their use of specialized knowledge. Now, I had always accepted as general truth that the most influential members of the federal government acted in their own self-interest, especially in regards to economic benefit, when making legislative decisions. However, I had never considered framing this generally exploitative behavior merely in terms of their privileged access to information. Once the problem is defined in these terms, it can be argued that politicians, with their access to specialized information, are now in possession of an indisputable expertise that makes them not only better qualified but, in fact, the only people qualified to make legislative decisions. By merely limiting our access to information about defense, foreign policy, national security and economics (to name a few) our government has cut out the entire population from the legislative process. This in and of itself is sort of bad, but what is worse, if you accept that childhood is a social construct and in some sense a byproduct of an adult’s wealth of specialized knowledge (on account of formal education and/or technical training), by limiting our access to information (and hence our ability to be formally and/or self-educated on these matters), our federal government has established their elite circle as adults and by doing so has reduced the general population to children.
In other terms, they are the enlightened monarchs and we are the ignorant serfs that are supposed to be grateful for their wise decrees. So, this is where you come in. There is a point to why I am writing you after all; I promise. Alright, so I was driving to pick my girlfriend up from class earlier today. I do a lot of driving. And I was listening to NPR because there never is anything better on. Truthfully I’d rather listen to music, but the radio has sucked a big one since the late 90’s, but I’m not going to point any fingers. Anyway, there was some random celebrity on NPR (I never got his name) and he was rambling on about the elevated status of celebrities in our society. In his opinion, he feels that because of our “ambivalent” attitude toward celebrity in our culture, they have been elevated to the level of nobility. His reasoning was that they were given unquestioning access to an elite society that most everyone else was denied on account of what must presumably be everyone else’s inherent serfdom. And this has really got me wondering whether access to be amongst the elite society of specialized knowledge is the same as being part of the elite society of specialized knowledge. Especially when you consider that there are people like Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Bono juggling African babies and debt relief while riding unicycles for the UN general assembly. Have these people really gained access to this society? Are they imparted with the same sort of specialized information as say, a diplomat to the UN? Or are they, as I suspect, merely court jesters allowed to wander the halls of the UN to appease the King? I ask you this because your history shows that you have risen out of the squalor of the masses to the prominent level of a Pop Princess and now you are floundering on the the railing of the castle’s outer-fortification. If you regain your stability, you will be able to step safely back within the castle, but if you shift even slightly in the wrong way you will quickly be waddling in the muck with the rest of us. And with this unique perspective upon class that very few people of your stature currently have, I was wondering if you have any insight into the matter of privilege and our society? I mean how would you compare yourself to someone like, say, Scooter Libby in terms of a breach of privilege? Albeit you are both seemingly members of the aristocracy that stepped out of line, would it be fair to say that he is he an adult that is being judiciously penalized for improper use of guarded knowledge and are you merely a petulant child being sent to bed early? Or am I completely off base? A timely answer would be appreciated. I’m really trying to sort this out before Monday.