Thursday, December 21, 2006
Britney takes the prize

Hollywood, 2006. The year that made it seem like "celebrity" was a synonym for "controversial."

The over-the-top antics of the likes of Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, Tom Cruise, Anna Nicole Smith, Naomi Campbell, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Madonna, Star Jones and Britney Spears provided non-stop fun and follies on which we feasted. But in the end, after much thought, "Showbiz Tonight" on CNN Headline News has named Britney Spears the "Most Controversial Celebrity of 2006."

Why Britney? Why not Mel Gibson, whose anti-Semitic, drunken rant shook us to our senses and reminded us once again that hate can live in the heart (I'm not one of those who believes it was the liquor doing the talking for Mel)?

And why not Michael Richards, whose n-word explosion on a comedy stage ignited great debate about the proper and improper use of the n-word, as if there really is a proper use that should be considered acceptable?

"Showbiz Tonight" set four specific criteria that a celebrity had to meet before deciding who was the most controversial of the year:

  • Does the mention of their very name spark a visceral reaction?
  • Which celebrity provoked the most continuous shock and outrage from their antics over the course of the entire year?
  • Which celebrity generated the most continued interest through the year?
  • And, finally, did their actions leave any lasting impact?

More than any other celebrity, Britney scored off the charts.

Spears' first big controversy of the year came in February when she was photographed driving her SUV in Malibu with her infant son, Sean Preston, in her lap, instead of a car seat. Even the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta, expressed outrage, saying “while Ms. Spears has acknowledged her mistake, her actions still send the wrong message to millions of her fans."

In April, Spears again generated headlines when social services officials in Los Angeles investigated a report that Sean Preston was injured after falling from his high chair.

In June, a frazzled-looking Spears was interviewed on "Dateline NBC" to discuss everything from her emotional state to rumors her marriage to Kevin Federline was in trouble.

In August, jaws dropped again when a pregnant Spears posed nude for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. And soon after giving birth to her second child with Federline in September, Spears announced she was divorcing her husband. Her announcement on Election Day, November 7, generated headlines so big that in some newspapers it battled the news that the election had led to a change in Congress' balance of power!

Spears finished off the year with her headline-making partying with the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, being photographed repeatedly without panties, and becoming the most searched-for person on the Internet (according to Yahoo). Her actions have people talking about everything from proper parenting to concern over the influence and sway she still holds over millions of impressionable young fans.

Britney Spears is like an ongoing mini-series with no end. I've already set my TiVo for 2007.

Agreed. The question is: where are the photos of baby Jayden James? Why is he hidden from view- in direct contrast to her other baby? After the daily cry and hue for pix of Suri and Shiloh... just wondering why the media has skipped over this interesting nugget.
The good that Mel Gibson has done with his portrayal of the death and resurrection of Christ far outways any ranting he did. God is the ultimate judge of Mel, not you media liberals.
"I'm not one of those who believes it was the liquor doing the talking for Mel"

Well being that you have about as much of a clue as to Mel's heart as he has to yours, please keep your baseless speculations to yourself. Is it so much to ask media to present, not editorialize the news?
They made the right choice with Britney. Hopefully, she keeps on doing a great job and providing lots of entertainment.
Carla..I was wondering the same about the baby..RUMOR has it...that the photos will be released the same time as her album is. COUGH COUGH...publicity?!
"Is it so much to ask media to present, not editorialize the news?"

No, it certainly isn't too much to ask... except when you're reading a blog post instead of an article.

As for Britney... this really does feel like another symptom of a declinging empire. So many Americans without homes, without jobs, without health care; yet this is the drivel we distract ourselves with.
Give Mel a break. I am sure you have never said an unkind work about anyone. Get over it. Ever heard of the fist amendment. He or anyone can say what they want. Try looking at what crap you all write. No research. And you make up most of it anyway, but never appologize for you mistakes. Learn the lesson you feel you are trying to teach others
Sorry to see that she has been selected "The Most....." anything. That just keeps her in the spotlight. Just plain ignoring her would be much more appropriate. What a rotten role model for young girls!
Do the folks at Showbiz Tonight not know the definition of 'controversial?' It means something that gives rise to public disagreement - nobody sat around debating anything about Britney Spears. She might be the year's most ridiculed celebrity, but not the most controversial. I say that title should go to Mel Gibson - look, people on this board are already debating about whether he's a great religeous film maker or an anti-semetic drunk. THAT is controversy. I don't see anyone here gettting riled up about whether Britney is going to start wearing panties. Because you know what - NO ONE REALLY CARES except the tabloids.
Sure, we could give Mel a break, but why would we do that when he has so publicly denounced Judaism? The only thing worse than bigotry is apathy. I am not making things up. Statements like "the Jews start all the wars in the world" should not go ignored. Race, religion, and war are three of the most controversial topics in today's world and the cause of nearly all poverty, ostracism, marginalization, and despair. To suggest that a man who makes aggressive statements on all three of these topics should be "given a break" is both irresponsible and outrageous.
Most Controversial? More like the most ordinary.
Dear god, a 24-year-old adult chose to go out and party. What self-respecting college age adult does that? Just because someone has children doesnt make them ineligible for a few nights out. And of course, real parents dont make mistakes. Perish the thought.

She's not controversial. She's just there.

It'd be refreshing if people would stop paying attention to the actions of a celebrity and possibly look at whats going on in the real world. Pantygate? What about Darfur? Britney Spears went out and partied? What about Iraq? I'm glad to see we're looking at the real issues here. And I'm glad to see the press understands our priorities.
The only controversy sorrounding Britney is why does a train wreck continue to make the news? Why is someone who most people hate continued to be upheld as a person of great interest when most people just can't wait to see her fall?
So trashy Britney is the most controversial person this year because she made a ton of mistakes (i.e., the dateline interview with Matt Lauer, almost dropping her baby, showing the world her crotch for free, being the worst dressed celebrity, being a BFF to Paris Hilton, etc, etc..). But this type of prize comes with a price and she will never live it down. That's her human stain and it will follow her into eternity.
Kevin Federline is not the biological father of Jayden James but I don't think Britney cares because she has other people caring for him and Sean Preston.
I'm sorry, but did you write that Micheal Richard's comment "ignited great debate over the use of the n-word"? Are trying to insult us? Or just defend Michael Richards? (now a confirm racist!!)
Michael Richards is a pure racist!! He didn't "miss use the n-word," he used it how racist have always used it, to insult us based on our color!! Michael Richards' apology was false and he should not work in Hollywood ever again.
So Mr. Levine, do us a favor, don't characterize hate speech as "improper" use of a word that lead to a great debate, be honest and call it what it is; racist hate speech.
I'd have to say Britney's escapade at the end of the year is what propelled her to the most loved/hated celebrity of 2006. I'll admit, I spent hours searching the Internet for photos of her with Paris Hilton. I'm intrigued and ready for more in 2007.
Britany needs an intervention by her family and friends who really care about her. She is on a rollercoaster to hell and doesn't seem to care. She has 2 children to care for and that should be her main priority. Hiring 4 nannies and relying on her family to care for her 2 boys is irresponsible and WRONG. She needs to grow up and realize that partying is not part of mothering. She's going to lose those babies if she doesn't shape up.
What a disgrace Britney Spears is. I agree with the comment posted stating to just not give her any attention or put her in the spotlight. Teenagers need decent role models and not "trashy" losers like Britney, Paris and even Lindsey. Wake up parents. You control what your teenagers watch and read. Stop buying Britney's products, although to me she was never talented and never will be. She's just "trashy"
Mel Gibson again? Leave Mel alone. He made two horrible mistakes. And that is something that he will have to live with. That's his cross to bare. He'll be battling those demons for years to come. His own personal hell. So why keep beating the drum?

As for Britney. She's a lot smarter than we all give her credit for. She knows how to keep her name in the press. And the more scandal, the more shocking, the more attention she gets.

Al hit it on the head with the post-what about the real issues?

If there was one celebrity who was the most controversial I would say it would be George Clooney. But I would say he is controversial for the right reasons. Controversial in the sense that it takes a celebrity to bring attention the crisis in Darfar? Yes, Anderson Cooper has been reporting on Darfar, but have we forgotten Anderson's coverage? It appears so. It takes a celebrity to go to the UN to get support to stop the crisis in Darfar? It takes a celebrity to go to Egypt and China to try and light a fire under those countries to move in solving the Darfar crisis? It takes a celebrity to go down to the Katrina ravaged areas to again raise awareness that the aftermath of Katrina is still happening. Yes, again, Anderson Cooper was there and continues to go there to report, but it seems that we have forgotten his coverage. George Clooney is more than just the sexiest man alive, he is a man with a conscience. He is a humanitarian. He is the most controversial celebrity of 2006, but for the right reasons.
I'm so sick of people making excuses for
Britney Spears, she's a grown women
and a mother, she needs to take responsibilities for her actions. Young
women look up to her, but she is not the
celebrity role model i would want for
for my daughter. She is just to trashy.
I think K-fed might be a better parent
I hope she keeps her legs closed for
Its too funny, all of this, Youtube was Time's person of the year, that means us, and now britney spears is the most controversial celebrity? All it shows is that as much sex as we show on TV and as many nipples as come flying at us, we're still terrified of sex and because of this fear, we keep making mistakes. Secondly, music and art are topsy turvy, never before in the history of mankind has so much meaningless stuff been pumped out to the population while being labeled "revolutionary". I hate to break it to you, when musicians rely on others to write their music and words, they're not musicians anymore. Just as Britney Spears is not a true celebrity (cough cough paris hilton cough cough), she's just lucky enough to have the spotlight while she goes searching for herself and her self respect which left her when she "did it again". She is the symbol of our love hate relationship with sexuality, unfortunately, she symbolizes all that is rose petals outside and diseased and rotting inside. Perhaps she symbolizes a pop culture we all condone? I dont know. Rolemodel though? HA! Not to any child worth a second of their life, not to any parent who wishes health and happiness for their children. Let her slosh around like a drunk white trash wannabe socialite that she is. We'll see how she handles her sons when they grow up and have no respect for women. Most serial killers come from loose single women. Maybe her kids will be the next Uday and Qusay? I wouldnt be surprised, surrounded by all this materialism, how could anyone respect life?
CNN lecturing on morality? Surely you must be joking? CNN should be renamed to TTN, trailer trash news. This is the station that has Lou Dobbs, Jack Cafferty and Nancy Grace, is it not? According to CNN, there's no such thing as bad racism. It all gets ratings.
To all the folks who are wondering what happened to Jayden James, he probably disappeared the same way as Britney's Chihuahua pets. Sad thing is, no one got to see pictures before his disappearance.
I feel sorry for her. I'm certain she'll cringe at all of this in 25 years.
Pleaseeeeeeee! Give me a break!
Is there anybody else out there?
What a sad commentary on "our" values, that someone like Britney Spears would command so much attention and financial compensation for being nothing but a no talent copy-cat, gum chomping trashy little girl. Now we can add hard-partying, public pantiless motherhood to her list of achievements. I must agree with another blogger who feels that what Britney really needs is no more of the public's attention or support. Grow up , Britney.
The fascination among many in this country with non-entities like Britney Spears, Lyndsey Lohan, and Paris Hilton is indicative of what Bob Grant use to eupehmisically refer to as "we are sick and getting sicker" in this society. No wonder our kids are turning to drugs, pre-mature sex and everything that is wrong. Take a look at their "role models." You dont' see the Chinese kids having time for that, they're studying Calculus, Computer Science and English, so that they can defeat us economically in the future. Which is exactly what they are going to do, judging by the quality of what our young kids are learning, i.e., "Heather has Two Mommies, " LOL.
Britney Spears? Ugh. Give me a break.
Send her, Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan to a deserted island and rid the world of their inane drivel.
I would send Michael Richards and Mel Gibson, too, but I'm afraid they might continue to reproduce.
If these are the role models for our children, I shudder to think what the next 25 to 40 years will bring.
I just have to say something about the whole Britney thing... WHO THE HELL REALLY CARES??? Why does the news encourage her. The only reason anyone remembers her is because of YOU the news. I know going out of the way HERE to make this comment makes me guilty as well but DAMMIT I wanted to watch REAL news. I HATE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS SHOWS!!!
Can't understand why anyone cares about celebrities. They haven't done anything to deserve being worshipped to this degree. The sooner people stop buying magazines that promote idiots like Britney who managed to escape from her trailer park trash destiny, the sooner we can start paying attention to what really matters: our own lives.
Like who realy cares there are more imporant things going on in the world.People should not care and these type of people will just go away.
Britney is a basket case. What she is doing is buying away her PAIN, but, she is looking like a FOOL!!! She now Knows, "I got what I picked UP"!!! Now Pay, and Move on.Your Insides wanted a man and You PICKED any Man , Now Pay the Man.Remember J-Lo DID and MOVE ON. Now you feel and See what the other woman felt when you took him.NOW PAY MS. SPEARS.
Occasional musings and gab about the world of entertainment.
• 10/22/2006 - 10/29/2006
• 10/29/2006 - 11/05/2006
• 11/05/2006 - 11/12/2006
• 11/12/2006 - 11/19/2006
• 11/26/2006 - 12/03/2006
• 12/03/2006 - 12/10/2006
• 12/10/2006 - 12/17/2006
• 12/17/2006 - 12/24/2006
• 12/24/2006 - 12/31/2006
• 12/31/2006 - 01/07/2007
• 01/07/2007 - 01/14/2007
• 01/14/2007 - 01/21/2007
• 01/21/2007 - 01/28/2007
• 01/28/2007 - 02/04/2007
• 02/04/2007 - 02/11/2007
• 02/11/2007 - 02/18/2007
• 02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007
• 02/25/2007 - 03/04/2007
• 03/04/2007 - 03/11/2007
• 03/11/2007 - 03/18/2007
• 03/18/2007 - 03/25/2007
• 03/25/2007 - 04/01/2007
• 04/01/2007 - 04/08/2007
• 04/08/2007 - 04/15/2007
• 04/15/2007 - 04/22/2007
• 04/22/2007 - 04/29/2007
• 04/29/2007 - 05/06/2007
• 05/06/2007 - 05/13/2007
• 05/13/2007 - 05/20/2007
• 05/20/2007 - 05/27/2007
• 05/27/2007 - 06/03/2007
• 06/03/2007 - 06/10/2007
• 06/10/2007 - 06/17/2007
• 06/24/2007 - 07/01/2007
• 07/01/2007 - 07/08/2007
• 07/08/2007 - 07/15/2007
• 07/15/2007 - 07/22/2007
• 07/22/2007 - 07/29/2007
• 07/29/2007 - 08/05/2007
• 08/05/2007 - 08/12/2007
• 08/12/2007 - 08/19/2007
• 08/19/2007 - 08/26/2007
• 08/26/2007 - 09/02/2007
• 09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007
• 09/09/2007 - 09/16/2007
• 09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007
• 09/23/2007 - 09/30/2007
• 09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007
• 10/07/2007 - 10/14/2007
• 10/14/2007 - 10/21/2007
• 10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007
• 10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
• 11/04/2007 - 11/11/2007
• 11/11/2007 - 11/18/2007
• 11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007
• 12/02/2007 - 12/09/2007
• 12/09/2007 - 12/16/2007
• 12/16/2007 - 12/23/2007
• 12/30/2007 - 01/06/2008
• 01/06/2008 - 01/13/2008
• 01/13/2008 - 01/20/2008
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.