Let's face it: Abuse is the new black. Celebrities from Julianne Hough to Charlize Theron "open up" about the abuse and bullying they claimed to have suffered as children. And, sometimes, just sometimes it is an exaggeration. And other times? Flat out lies and distortions. Now, take the roller coaster that is Britney Spears. Her childhood was a trainwreck. Real abuse, exploitation, s*x, drugs and alcohol were her reality from an early age. Throw in grinding poverty, lousy genes and a momager mom, and what have you got? Disaster, plain and simple. But she was so ashamed of what went down in those trailers in Louisiana, that, for a time, she pretended it hadn't happen, that her childhood was a rural and idyllic one. But let's go back and put together what happened to little Britney way down there in Kentwood, Louisiana and lift the veil on what really went down behind that squeaky clean Disney facade. Throw in a family with a history of mental problems, managers who exploited her, a toxic set of parents and a punishing work schedule that has given her one of the longest IMDb entries out there and what have you got? A kid who just really didn't stand a chance. Unlike other stars who "speak out", Britney's childhood was truly a living hell. It's not pretty, but it's real. And when the meltdown came ten years ago, many were surprised. But those who knew the Spears back in the day probably knew what was coming.
15 The Meltdown
Back around ten years ago, 20-something Britney Spears came out of rehab, shaved her head and started talking in an English accent while wearing a pink wig. The English Britney didn't go to her sons' custody hearing because "that" Britney didn't know they existed. The world uttered a big WTF and the press started debating over what label to put on her "illness". Well, the world may have been surprised, but probably not the good folks of Kentwood, Louisiana. They knew what the Spears kids had endured as children. They knew about dad Jamie's drinking and mom Lynne's yearning for the good life. And they knew about Jamie's crazy granny and all. Everybody in that little town knew what had been going down over at the Spears place.
14 In The Beginning: The Momager
Britney Spears at 2 years old. So, Lynne Spears and her husband Jamie, graduate from a trailer to a house and have Britney. Now, no offense to Kentwood, Louisiana, but Lynn had one goal in life: To get the heck out. Along comes a pretty, talented little daughter. For Lynne, she's her one-way ticket to the good life. By the time she was 3-years-old, Britney was frog marched to singing, dancing and gymnastic lessons. She won a Miss Talent competition when she was 6-years-old and two years later a hungry-for-the-good-life Lynne and Britney drove to Atlanta to audition for The Mickey Mouse Club. Lynne even lied about Britney's age in a bid to sway the judges. But they said no. That time anyway. Undeterred, Momager snagged an agent and she and Brit moved to New York, where Lynne enjoyed the city and singing/dancing Britney worked and worked and worked. Meanwhile, back home in Kentwood...
13 Big Heart, Good Soul And A Stronger Liver
Britney's dad, Jamie, is "bubba" personified, the kind of guy who would do wheelies on his motorcycle, cheat on his wives, then hunt, shoot and fish in the Good Ole Boy Southern kind of way. And he liked a drink or two or fifty. He's the kind of guy who converted his back porch into a redneck bar, complete with an illuminated Budweiser sign. That way he could get drunk at home, surrounded by all his drunken redneck friends. Oh yeah, he chews tobacco. Get the picture? Back in 2002 a very drunk Jamie Spears held an English reporter captive for four hours while he brandished a knife and engaged in a non-stop drunken monologue. He and Britney have this love/hate thing going on. But, believe it or not, when the meltdown came, he was put in charge of her life. WTF? And he was paid, to the tune of $130,000 a year. Still is.
12 Childhood Full Of Seeking Refuge In Aunt Chanda's Trailer
So, we have pushy Lynne Spears and drink-too-much Jamie trapped in a toxic marriage. Lynne wants the good life. Jamie wants another drink. What's even worse, they have three kids: Bryan, Britney and Jamie Lynn, who are trapped in that dysfunctional world with them. Jamie is supposed to have a construction business, but his love of alcohol means that's going down the toilet pretty fast. On any given day, he might get drunk, have a fight with Lynne and try to drive off in his beaten pickup truck with little Britney. Or he might hurl a glass full of water across the room, narrowly missing Lynne. When it got really bad, Britney would run out of the house and seek shelter in her Aunt Chanda's trailer. Later, Britney the "show off" became Britney the sullen. Britney who had to be the center of attention. Britney the addict. The signs were there all along.
11 Walking Around The House "Bare"
What kind of parents were Jamie and Lynne? Many say lousy ones, big time. Reportedly, the kids were allowed to walk around the house naked. No word on whether mom and dad joined in. And Lynne allowed her small children to drink alcohol if she was with them. Plus, believe it or not, Momager was the kind of scheming witch who encouraged her 14-year-old daughter to date an 18-year-old football player because she thought it would make Britney more popular. As a teenager, Britney frequented bars in nearby New Orleans with her older brother, Bryan. And at the age of 16, she was nabbed as she boarded a plane with a bag full of cocaine and marijuana. See, that's why Britney's drug and alcohol fueled meltdowns came as no surprise in good ole Kentwood, Louisiana. They were there watching.
10 Life In Kentwood: Of Bare Fridges And Squirrel For Dinner
OK, you've got a pushy Momager, a sometimes drunk and abusive dad. Mom leaves her other kids at home and is off to Atlanta and Hollywood and New York, where she is living the good life on the back of the hard work of her barely-old-enough-for-school daughter. And, increasingly, the once happy little "show-off" that Britney was, becomes sullen and sulky and rebellious. As we will see, the sh*t started about the time Mickey Mouse came into her life. And meanwhile back in Kentwood? Dad's bankrupt, still drinking. Life there? Think bare fridges and dad going out to the woods with his gun in hope of snagging a squirrel or a bunny rabbit. Britney lived in one hell. Jamie Lynn and Bryan in another.
9 The Not So Squeaky Clean Life Of A Mouseketeer
When Britney was around 12-years-old, Lynne dragged her off to audition for The All New Mickey Mouse Club again. And this time? They said yes. Between 1993 and 1994, Britney only did a hand full of shows. And in between? It was back to Kentwood to cavort with her much older football playing boyfriend and watch her father pass out. Now the Disney thing was a sweet gig for Lynne. She loved spending Britney's money. She loved the Hollywood lifestyle. Meanwhile, Britney was learning the ways of the Mouseketeers: S*x, drugs and booze. Pass the pot, please. And reportedly she was taking "bedroom" advice from Ryan Gosling. For Lynne, Kentwood would never be the same. And Britney was her ticket out. Never mind her problems, her struggles. Lynne's philosophy? Keep her out there earning no matter what.
8 Boozing At 13 And Deflowered At 14
Ten year old Britney on Star Search. Three years later, when the poor little girl from Kentwood became the rich little girl from Hollywood, the problems really escalated. Disney was part of that. Britney was plonked down in the middle of a world where drugs and alcohol were the norm. Then, back home there was the "anything goes" Spears philosophy of parenting. According to Lynne, Britney began drinking in earnest when she was all of 13, lost her virginity at 14 to her football player and by 15? Drugs. Did her concerned parents do anything? In a word: No. Maybe if the young Britney had taken a break and lived her childhood, she might have had a chance. But then the money would stop rolling in. And, trust us, Lynne was just not having that.
7 Of Justin And Bedrooms and Mom
When Britney Spears started dating Justin Timberlake, everybody was thrilled to bits. And Lynne? When he came to visit his teenage girlfriend, Lynne let him sleep in Britney's bedroom, with Britney. This is the same mom who pushed her 14-year-old daughter into the arms of a hunky 18-year-old football player in the hope that it would make her more popular. The same mom who let the young Britney drink alcohol and walk around the house naked. And why, oh why, did she do it? She says it was because Justin was good for Britney. And what do others think? Justin was a hot boy band star and the publicity shots of the two all loved up were good for business.
6 Momager And The Little Sister
Potted history of Britney's exploitation. Phase One is Momager living it up while her very young daughter works. Phase Two is where the managers and agents move in and milk the teenage cash cow. And Phase Three? The meltdown and dad Jamie, taking over. They all have the same goal: To maximize profits, Britney's well being be hanged. 1999 was Britney's breakout year, the year of Baby One More Time. So, once Britney got up and running, Lynne deserts hers and leaves her in the hand of managers. Why? Well to go back and groom Jamie Lynn for stardom. So, she does the Momager thing and Jamie Lynn is starring in her own show over at Nickelodeon. Then oops, big time. Jamie Lynn gets pregnant at 16-years-old.
5 A School Girl Lolita Dances With Snakes
As we said, if you go back over Britney Spears' IMDb entry, you will find a staggering number of entries. First Lynne, then the managers and then dad sought to control her in order to maximize profits. The teenage Britney was a seductive Lolita, the object of middle-aged men's fantasies, a sexy school girl who not so subtly danced with snakes. Get it? Rumor has it that after Lynne deserted her to concentrate on Jamie Lynn, the managers were using drugs to control her. These days, dad still controls her life and fortune and keeps her away from drugs and booze, not because he cares for his daughter, but because when the meltdown came, the money stopped rolling in. Has there ever been a time when Britney was in control of her life? In a word, no.
4 Marrying Her Father
OK, Britney Spears and her father have this love/hate thing going on. These days, Jamie is sober and back with Lynne. But, don't forget the hard drinking bully of Britney's childhood, the guy who would fly into drunken rages and throw things at his frightened wife and kids. Justin Timberlake was a good choice, but many say a lot of the guys Britney later hooked up with were wild-child, crazy, hard drinking S.O.B.'s. In other words, men just like her father. Take her ex-husband Kevin Federline. He's the kind of guy who gets drunk and runs around a resort's swimming pool in the buff. He's loud and pisses people off and launches into rants at the drop of a hat. In other words, he's a young version of Jamie. Why does she do it? Maybe she figures better the devil you know...
3 Mommy Spills The Beans
In one corner, we have the devout Christian mother. In the other, the Momager who all but pimped for Justin Timberlake. What kind of mother writes a book in which she admits that her daughter lost her virginity at 14 years of age or that she started doing drugs when she was only 15-years-old? Some might say a bad one. And remember how 16-year-old Britney got caught with drugs when she boarded an airplane? Lynne says she was "shocked" by the news, as if she didn't know what was going on. Another vote for the worst mother of the year award. Her tell-all, spill the beans book came out in 2008. Great timing, Lynne. You're now ex-husband and reformed drunk is in the driving seat, controlling Britney's life and fortune. No surprises for guessing why she took him back in 2010.
2 The Curse Of The Spears Genes
Ten years ago came the big, big Spears meltdown. Rehab, shaved head, "speaking with an English accent wearing a pink-wig" meltdown. All sorts of terms were thrown around about what was going on, including bi-polar and histrionic. The kid had been on Prozac since she was 18-years-old. Some blamed what only can be described as a crappy childhood. Well, life with Lynne and Jamie may have been a disaster. But there's more to the story. Look at Jamie Spears, his alcoholism, his mood swings and his rages. Some say craziness runs through most Southern families and the Spears family had their fair share. Jamie's grandmother committed suicide. So given her genetic make up, her childhood and her family, was she doomed from the star? Probably.
1 Following Her Dreams Cost Her Her Soul
These days, Britney is pulling big bucks with her long-running Las Vegas show. She is apparently in a good place. But cast your mind back ten years to the shaven head, the wild eyes and the meltdown than stunned the world. Her father Jamie, has permanent control over her affairs. What happened to the sweet young girl from Louisiana with the winning way and the dynamite voice? By the time puberty kicked in she was messed up. Some speculate that without the pressures of fame, she would have been better off. Many point to a toxic childhood full of abuse and her years and years of working non-stop as factors in her demise. She has wealth, but others control her and her life. There may be trouble ahead nobody wants to think about.
Sources: dailymail, telegraph, billboard, independent, nydailynews, mirror