Actress Juliette Lewis has created the first work of Instagram art — found art, at least: fifteen seconds of video so infinitely self-referential they slip unintentionally into profundity.
In the video, a disheveled Lewis sits in her car with the Britney Spears’ song “Work B***h” playing on the radio. She claims she was just trying to “make people smile while we all try and deal with the horrific fires in California!” Maybe so. But to me, she looks stoned out of her ever-loving mind. Whatevs.
Looking into the camera, Lewis cries out with what seems genuine anguish: "Can’t you save us, Britney Spears? Can we be saved? God! Why is Satan controlling the universe?" Then, as if that wasn’t bizarre enough, she slides even more bizarrely from apparent anguish into a rocking dance to the music, whereupon the video ends.
For me, the image of an apparently screwed-up celebrity crying out for salvation to an oftentimes screwed-up celebrity pretty much sums up the elites of our era. These idols of clay are the people who relentlessly hammer us with their political and lifestyle insights on every late-night talk show, every award show, every interview, in every tweet and every Facebook post. These are the money-soaked demi-talents who constantly remind the rest of us deplorables just how very deplorable we are compared to them, how shallow, how racist, how sexist, how unwoke — indeed how evil if we dared to stray so far from their self-righteous, elitist and exclusionary creed that we actually (gasp) support Donald Trump! These are the shabby icons of the age, crying out to each other’s images for redemption: Can’t you save us, Britney Spears?
The video came at a perfect moment, a day after Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence. This is the guy who was allowed to unleash Julie Swetnick on Brett Kavanaugh, to parade her unvetted on TV as she spewed outlandish, ever-changing and wholly uncorroborated charges against the then-Supreme Court nominee. And now here he was, sprung on 50-thousand dollars bail after a woman swore out a complaint against him, charging he smacked her around while throwing her out of his Century City apartment.
That Avenatti went on TV and denied the whole thing only adds to the irony. He is asking us to believe him and not the "survivor" of the incident, to believe him rather than believing all women. And, of course, CNN and the networks who made Avenatti a celebrity when they thought the sleazy Daniels case or the unsupported Swetnick charges might do some damage to Donald Trump, now buried the story and even lectured us on the virtues of withholding judgment. They suddenly discovered due process and the presumption of innocence when it helped them defend the man whom they had made famous in the hope of destroying those same principles.
These are our celebrities and the media who make them what they are. These are the people who call us and our president every name they can every chance they get.
What about the rest of us? Who are we?
Well, here are some pieces of possible good news. According to an article in the Federalist by Angela Morabito, candidates who were endorsed by celebrities mostly lost in the recent midterm elections. And according to another, insightful analysis by author Salena Zito, the midterm results showed that many Republican voters, while accepting the need for border security, rejected what they felt were racist undertones to Trump’s caravan rants, while many Democrat voters rejected socialist candidates like Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams and rewarded those candidates who appealed to them as moderates.
If these analyses are correct — if the people, Republican and Democrat, are wise enough to ignore celebrities and reject both racism and socialism — then maybe we should be listening more to our neighbors and less to the faces on our computers and TVs.
Because no, Britney Spears can’t save us. She never could. But everyday Americans can lead the way forward. They often have.