Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Schadenfreude: It Does a Body Good

If coffee is the fuel of business, then schadenfreude must be the fuel that drives Hollywood. Case in point: Britney Spears. How else can we explain the inexplicably joyous tone to so many of the rundowns of her disastrous comeback at the VMA? What else could explain the jubilant tone of critics who are waiting for the next Britney disaster? Are their lives so hollow they have to kick her when she’s down?

One need look no farther than the charming host of the MTV music awards, Sarah Silverman, to find this more perfectly illuminated. When we last saw Ms. Silverman at the MTV Movie Awards, she was telling Paris Hilton about “special arrangements” that the prison had made for her. Everybody got a big laugh, except for Paris herself (who was in the audience).

Last night, after Spears’ performance at the VMA, Silverman got big yuks with:
“Wasn’t that incredible? Britney Spears, everyone. Wow. She is amazing. She is 25-years-old and she’s already accomplished everything she’s going to accomplish in her life. It’s mind blowing.”
Can you feel the love tonight? But it gets better! Not content to have her go at Spears, Silverman took a jab at Spears’ children:
“Have you seen Britney’s kids? Oh my god, they are the most adorable mistakes you will ever see! They are as cute as the hairless vagina they came out of.”
Was Silverman hoping to coax Spears into hanging herself in her dressing room? I know this is MTV, but that’s a little much even for them.

(Side note: Silverman’s career in Hollywood isn’t much to brag about so far: fired from SNL, several bit parts in various comedies, her own show that’ll get cancelled next year, and of course her current role as Jimmy Kimmel’s mattress. Who knows from whence her venom drips, except to chalk it up to jealousy or a personal failing on her part.)

I don’t understand the daggers-out mentality that seems to pervade show-business performers. It’s one thing for night-show hosts to be cracking wise about Hollywood disaster cases; that’s what they’re paid for, after all. It’s quite another to be ridiculing them to their face and have an auditorium full of their peers chortling right along with you. Have these people no sense of decency?

I’ve never spectacularly failed in front of millions before, but I’d hope that if I did one of my co-workers (or at least one of my so-called friends) might try to help me out instead of taking the opportunity to get a few digs in. I guess as long as Britney was making out with Madonna and stripping with snakes, she was cool. Once that’s over, it’s time to throw tomatoes. Are these clods so un-self-aware that they don’t see their own fate writ large in Britney Spears?

Can they be so dense?

So for those of you out there who lust after fame and fortune in Hollywood, I would caution you that despite their claims at being somehow better than the rest of us, it seems that “outsiders” aren’t exactly welcome there and your first stumble may be your last. Just keep that in mind.

And if you run into Sarah Silverman, spit on her once for me.