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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

When a haircut makes the evening news

Published: March 2, 2007
Section: Opinions

You know when youre driving along the highway and you hit a huge line of traffic? Then you proceed to sit for what seems like forever. When you finally get going, you realize that, three-quarters of a mile up ahead, there was an accident on the side of the road. It wasnt blocking the flow of traffic, but the whole 45 minute delay was because everyone kept on slowing down to indulge their interest. They wanted to see what the fuss was about. The curiosity factor they call it. It might be ugly or distasteful, but you just cant look away. That is exactly the way I felt last week at home watching celebrity news coverage on TV.

We had a full week off, and I spent that full week at home in the same pair of sweatpants. I ate my moms food, slept and worked on my senior essay. Oh yeah, and I also watched TV. And every time I turned on the tube, there was Britney Spears's bald head staring back at me. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Britney shaved her head. Lets all go gaga over this, just like the entire nation has in the past few weeks. I nearly wanted to pull out my own hair over all the hubbub. Funny, it really didnt matter too much which channel I was tuned in to. She was on MTVs news break, all over E! (there were mid-program “Breaking News” interruptions), and yes, even on network newscasts. Britney's bald head was just about everywhere. And like those accidents on the highway, I just couldnt look away.

I didnt know that it took a spur of the moment, wild hair-sheering extravaganza in order for the entire American public to drop everything and realize that our pop princess has quickly transformed into a major train wreck. Shes been headed straight downhill for a while now, but the shaved head seemed to be the real kicker in order for public figures and pop culture fans alike to start expressing their deep concern for dear Brit.

This just goes to show you how important hair is in our society. Remember when Keri Russell sheared off her long curly locks for the show Felicity? Ratings plummeted. Obviously we assign a huge amount of importance to our female celebrities' current coifs, but I just didnt know how far it could go. Partying every night of the week sans-children (and underwear, for that matter) wasnt interpreted as a cry for help, but a bold hair choice was? Id say that her three trips in and out of rehab over the course of a few days is proof enough, but what do I know?

Apparently youve got to do something extreme or larger than life these days to warrant a 30 second spot on the evening news. The real stuff (you know, Wall Street, the 2008 presidential elections) is comfortably padded in-between a whole bunch of fluff that we cant seem to get enough of. Theyll pull you in with Britney, insert a few minutes of actual news-related information, and then keep tempting you with promises of more meaningless junk. There was even a report on the ten oclock news covering what I believe was a watermelon head-bashing contest. Super.

This isnt to say that Ill do away with watching the news (or, god forbid, E!) in general. Theres something about watching other people do stupid things makes you feel a bit better about yourself in comparison. I suppose I dont score all that highly on the cool-person scale by tuning in to this garbage, but hey, we all have our vices. Hopefully Brit will get some help in her $1,600 a night rehab center, and maybe shell stay there more than a few hours this time. At least until some of her hair grows back. While shes gone, Im sure I can find some other trashy news to keep up with. Theres always Anna Nicole.