Why is it that when it comes to celebrities, journalistic standards seem to fly straight out the window? Such was the case recently when ABC News captured a photo of Britney Spears sporting a necklace with the Star of David hanging from it. The network news site reported, doing its best US Weekly impersonation:
The comeback queen has had a variety of religious dabblings over the years, including Kabbalah and Hinduism, despite her Baptist roots. But this sighting has fueled Internet rumors that Spears may be engaged to her latest and, perhaps, most wholesome boyfriend, Jason Trawick, who happens to be Jewish.
We could debate whether or not Spears' religion of the week qualifies as news. But, regardless, this certainly doesn't qualify as reporting. And yet it spawned a flurry of follow up articles, like this one that appears in the Boston Globe and attempts to answer definitely, based on that all-important inside source, that Spears is indeed converting:
An insider said: "Britney wants to try the religion Jason was brought up with."
It's not the first time Britney has changed faith. She dabbled in Kabbalah - which is a mystical off-shoot of Judaism - in 2005 after Madonna suggested it.
Meanwhile, Britney's ex-boyfriend Adnan Ghalib has been ordered to stand trial for felony assault with a deadly weapon, battery and hit-and-run after he allegedly tried to run over a court official in February.
Yes, Justice Stewart, I think this does qualify as obscenity.
To begin with, the Star of David, a symbol of importance to Christians too, is hardly evidence of a conversion experience. I once bought a five-dollar Star of David necklace while visiting Washington in eighth grade, but, as you have learned, I am at best Jew-ish.
"My guess," one commenter wrote on The God Blog, "is that she had no idea it was the Star of David. She probably thought it was a purdy star necklass (yes I meant to misspell purdy and necklass)."
Who knows. Sadly, though, this is the MSM MO concerning celebrities and public figures. Remember two summer ago when a New York Times report led others that Chelsea Clinton had met with a friend of her boyfriend's family to learn more about Judaism caused others to to speculate she was considering converting? She and Marc Mezvinsky are still together and, far as we know, he's still a member of the tribe and she is not.
Contrast this with how the media responds when Michael Vick or Alex Rodriguez or Paris Hilton or -- would you look at that -- Britney Spears says that thanks to all their mistakes they've finally found God.
As for Britney's interfaith relationship, those in the Jewish media weren't as credulous that it was leading her to get a new religion. And neither was Andy Borovitz, a comedy writer who did a brilliant job satirizing the Britney Spears conversion experience in this week's New Yorker.
Based on his collection of mock "Shalom, Diary" entries, Borovitz clearly gets Judaism. He understands that converting is no Shabbat fling and, more than likely, Britney Spears lacks the necessary commitment. He concludes with her final diary entry, sans shalom:
Dear Diary: I am so over Rabbi Pearlstein!!! Here's what went down: I like went to his house to explain my awesome Jewish point system, and I'm like ringing the door-bell 4-EVAH, and then he finally comes to the door and there go his curly hairs again, and he's like, "Do you have ANY idea what DAY it is???" And I'm like, no, and he's like, "Jews aren't supposed to answer the doorbell on Saturdays." And I'm like, "Hello, isn't that the Amish?" He seriously needs to check his facts!!! Anyway, I'm donezo with this whole Jewish thing. Saturdays are my day to party, and no one, not even Yahweh or whatever, f---s with that. Note to Brit: Find new religion that Jason and I can both convert to. Maybe Hindu? I'd look amazing with one of those cute jewels in my head.
Well, I'm sure that if Spears is spotted picking out some plastic jewels at Claire's that there will be plenty of journalists willing and able to postulate about her new, new religion.