Britney’s no Madonna

It seems that Ms. Britney Spears has scraped her act together once again. No, correction: Ms. Britney Spears has a team of well-paid stylists, managers and family members who have put her act back together for her.

As some may recall, Ms. Spears has had an interesting past year or two. Her escapades have landed her in multiple rehabilitation facilities and cost her the freedom to daily mother her two young sons. Lately, however, she has eschewed her paparazzi-baiting antics for dieting, exercising, and spending time with family. She will not reprise her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, focusing instead on the longer-term goal of recording a new album.

I will not argue that this tormented woman ought to be a better example for the younger generations. She is an entertainer, not their mother. However, she is a mother, and her decisions do influence the rest of us, thanks in large part to the paparazzi industry and ubiquitous celebrity coverage. While she may be just another 26-year-old woman making stupid mistakes, they are magnified due to her celebrity, and they seep into our corporate consciousness: it’s okay to be selfish; it’s acceptable to neglect others for your own purposes. Even her recent turnaround into health and productivity displays a more subtle level of self-interest and -glorification.

So it is not Ms. Spears’ responsibility to be a better mother in order to serve as an example for the rest of us; she needs only to be a better mother for the benefit of her children. We are the ones who carry the burden, and it is a hefty one, of choosing not to let this deepening cultural acceptance of selfishness reach our families. After all, if we do not teach our children well, we might later find ourselves, like Ms. Spears’ mother and father,  picking up the pieces of their broken lives.