In defense of Schadenfreude:
Tim Sandefur urges sympathy for Britney;
I don't give a damn. The merciless hatred that Britney Spears inspires is to me more a signal of how pathetic her critics are. Her vapid brand of so-called "pop" music is an affront to humanity; her ridiculous "dancing" is essentially aerobic exercises laced with fornicatory gestures; and her voice is not particularly fine, and certainly less vibrant than Christina Aguilera's.
This should not prevent her from being a serious musician. Billie Holliday had little more than an octave's range, and her memory is essentially eternal. Britney Spears is indeed quite beautiful, but I think Sandefur is accidentally apt in comparing this spate of vitriol to the abuse Marilyn Monroe faced her entire career: after all, who remembers Monroe's singing career?
Answer: nearly nobody. All anybody knows of Monroe's singing is that she sang Happy Birthday to JFK in a famously saucy performance. Spears is likely on the edge of irrelevance, which is somewhat of a shame, since she has an enormously honed sense of self-promotion. But schadenfreude, while a surly and unattractive attribute of humanity, is perfectly understandable. I don't approve of the exploitation of Ms. Spears's tears, but then again I didn't approve of the exploitation of JFK Jr.'s death, nor the continuing exploitation of Kennedy family suffering by Ted Kennedy.
Neither Caesar nor Brutus was ever so loved until he died, Sandefur. Human nature is an ugly thing, and I do not defend it; but I suspect that part of the reason people are enjoying this misery of Britney's so much is because it brings them closer to her, and is more empathetic than you realise.