Niketa Brar: The 2008 election: Taking a page from the VMAs

So I have a confession.

Perhaps the greatest threat to a writer’s career is losing the respect of their readership – I’m no different. Yet as much as I may want to cling to any shred of dignity I may have, it is time to finally reveal my deep-seated obsession with Britney Spears.

The truth is, Britney’s increasingly half-baked antics over the last few years have never failed to intrigue me. Whether she was shaving her head or forgetting to wear panties, she always had me holding my breath until her next move.

And yet, there was always something about that sick child that made me want to help her. Perhaps it was the E! True Hollywood Story on Britney that I came across one lazy Saturday afternoon last summer. Perhaps it was the innate human desire to see every person who is preyed upon by the vultures of modern media finally fight back. Whatever it was, it prompted me to think of her often, praying to every kind of god to finally give Britney the comeback she deserves.

Well, as of Sunday, Britney finally has the media gods on her side again. Three MTV Video Music Awards are no easy feat; just ask Rihanna, who rocked the charts all year and still failed to snag one.

The naysayers argue that Britney did not “earn” these VMAs – that she was just granted these awards by a public that, like me, is sick of seeing the poor girl getting repeatedly beaten up. They say she should have fought harder to get them. How much more gratifying would three VMAs have been after a show-stopping performance that would have finally buried last year’s anti-prescription drug campaign of a concert?

The truth is, the American people like a fighter. They want someone who can take a beating and still come back for more. They want someone who stands up, ready to crush the competition and silence their critics in one swift move.

This holds true in many aspects of American life – from MTV’s awards stage to the presidential race. If, as John McCain likes to say, Barack Obama truly is the biggest celebrity in the world, the Democratic candidate should learn a thing or two from Britney.

First, always keep the buzz alive. Britney has always kept a solid hold on her spotlight, even as she lay on a stretcher being pulled out of her Beverly Hills home after hours holed up in a palatial bathroom. The Obama machine has certainly done its best to keep him in the headlines, having him wrestle domestic race relations then fly off on a grand world tour this summer.

But with perhaps the GOP’s celebutante candidate stepping into the political arena, suddenly the rumored-Muslim black candidate with an itch for change has suffered a publicity setback. Between Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s impending grandchild and her rather photogenic image, Obama has failed to maintain his stranglehold on the media’s affections. And in this fickle political climate, a major slip-up in media attention can certainly mean losing the election.

Yet in fighting to reclaim the headlines, Obama should not follow Britney’s example from this year’s VMAs. Yes, success can sometimes crawl back to you, but there is certainly no guarantee for that. More important, when courting American votes, it’s necessary to earn them, to stand tall and demand the votes be yours. If ever there was a fight worth picking, this election is it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing for the return of dirty politics. I don’t want to hear judgments on Palin’s daughter or McCain’s age. But as a voter, I would like to see a little more passion in this election. I do appreciate Obama’s measured coolness, but voters want to know that when called for, the man is capable of getting mad. It’s time for the handlers to back off and let the prophet be human.

By doing so, Obama will finally bridge the gap between ambitious ideals and common Americans. Because as any Britney fan will tell you, it’s the human in you that makes us want to see her succeed.

The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs and political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

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