It may be a decade ago, but 2007 was a particularly memorable year. If you were born in the early nineties like myself, your life probably revolved around MSN and Bebo. It was a much simpler time. The internet was slower and smart phones were still in their infancy.
But when it came to celebrities, there was one particular breakdown that captured everyone’s attention – even if you still had a dial-up connection. Britney Spear’s now infamous 2007 meltdown, captured the attention of paparazzi everywhere, and peaked when she shaved her head.
The then 25-year-old Britney’s fragile mental state became a media feeding frenzy when photographs of her shaving her head and later attacking a car with an umbrella emerged. But then one of her fans decided to dramatically speak out.
That fan was the then unknown 19-year-old Chris Crocker. He uploaded a tearful, mascara-streaked video of himself to the relatively new video sharing platform YouTube, pleading with the media to leave his idol Britney alone.
On top of the head-shaving incident, he was defending Britney after her MTV comeback performance was subject to harsh criticism when she failed to lip synch her song ‘Gimme More’ and dance in time with the music.
“What really bothers me is the people out there who don’t see her as a person,” Crocker said, before welling up. “If anything happens to Britney Spears, the world can kill my a** goodbye. I’m jumping off the nearest f*cking building.”
“All you people care about is readers and making money off of her. She’s a human being. LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!”
Crocker’s video unknowingly catapulted him into fame, making him one of the world’s first pure online celebrities at the age of 19. The now legendary video garnered over two million views just 24 hours after it was posted.
After critcizing the media for their treatment of Britney, fearing that it would lead her to take her own life, Crocker was given the chance to expand on his views when he was interviewed on a number of major talkshows.
Whilst the majority of people deemed Crocker to be an attention seeking drama queen, something which was capitalized on in various parody videos, he used the fame he’d developed to create an eclectic career.
Since the viral video, he has worked a musician, blogger, pornographic actor, and he is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ issues.
To mark the 10 year anniversary of his famous video, Crocker posted a video of himself to his Instagram account explaining everything he’s learnt about being an internet celebrity since its release.
Crocker also posted a clip from the original video explaining more about his situation at the time, enabling people to see that not all was what it seemed. I’m not going to lie, I got a little teary-eyed reading this.
“10 years ago on this day, I defended my favorite pop star against the media. While I’m known to do comedy: This was the one video that I was serious in. That year, my mom was battling addiction & became homeless after serving for our country in Iraq. The struggles in my home life and family life made me defensive over any woman going through a hard time. The internet and YouTube was a very different, less LGBT friendly place at the time. Nothing I said in the video was listened to. I was mocked for my femininity. I was called every gay slur in the book. Talk show hosts questioned if I was a man or woman, after playing the clip. I knew there was no way people would take me serious. So I decided that I would play up to the joke everyone thought I was. Realizing that telling them about what had actually triggered my emotional reaction (What my mom was battling) wouldn’t be of interest to anyone. So I gave them a cartoon of what they assumed I was, in my public appearances afterward. But the truth is and always was about standing up for someone and not standing idly by when you see someone being hurt by others. In the 10 years since this video- A lot of LGBT Youtubers are celebrated for who they are. I often wonder if I had started videos later, if I would’ve been treated differently. But what I will say is this: Even if I got a public beating for standing up for what’s right: Im happy I did. And I’ll always love @britneyspears“
Crocker’s story is testament to not only the power of the internet to make and break people, but it’s proof of how much social networking websites have moved forward over the past decade.
We can take comfort in the knowledge that Britney made it through 2007 and is now in a much better place.
Pictured below is Crocker doing his thing today.
Keep doing you Chris. The Internet will always have a special place for you in its heart.