Chris Crocker, Viral Star Behind “Leave Britney Alone” Video, Has Responded To ‘Framing Britney’

"When I said [leave Britney alone] I had to fear for my life ... Physical attacks were made towards me at gay bars and out in the streets."

chris crocker britney spears photo

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In September 2007, one of the lone voices defending Britney Spears during a period of obvious personal turmoil was a young vlogger named Chris Crocker.

Real name Christopher Darren Cunningham, Crocker filmed a now well-known monologue, spoken tearily to camera, in which he urged those who were mocking Spears to leave her alone. It was a heartfelt plea to provide a privacy that the tabloids were so resolutely denying the popstar, and one of the few public damnations of a media landscape that was mining obvious trauma for clicks.

But the culture wasn’t ready for it. Crocker became himself mocked, labelled with as many euphemisms for “hysterical” as possible. Seth Green, the comedian and Robot Chicken creator, filmed his own parody of Crocker’s video, one filled with gay panic-style jokes — Green applies eyeliner throughout the video, and insults Crocker’s collection of Spears merchandise.

Now, following the release of Framing Britney Spears, a new documentary that outlines the hardship that the singer has faced, the culture has broadly shifted towards treating Crocker more positively. History has vindicated him; more are realising that Spears’ trauma should not have been covered with such hysteria by then nascent blogs like the one run by Perez Hilton.

As a result, Crocker has issued a statement in which he notes that his defence of Britney Spears was not itself the issue. “Maybe people reaching out to tell me, ‘Chris, you were right’ would feel good, if I knew that people could unpack that the reason no one took me serious was because I was a gender-bending teenager and the reaction to me was transphobic,” Crocker has written in a notes app statement posted to his Twitter.

“When I said [leave Britney alone] I had to fear for my life … Physical attacks were made towards me at gay bars and out in the streets.”

As Crocker correctly points out in the statement, he was not the lone voice defending Spears — the South Park episode ‘Britney’s New Look’ was also a damning look at the tabloid sphere, and documentarian Michael Moore also urged the public for privacy.

Why don’t we just leave her alone and let her just go on with her life?” Moore said at the time.

Yet neither Moore nor the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, received pushback to the degree of Crocker. As heteronormative defenders, they were mostly ignored or — in the case of Parker and Stone — actively praised.

“This was during a pre-Drag Race time,” Crocker writes. “It was a time of only embracing HETERONORMATIVE people in media.”

Crocker is right. Moving forward, we as a culture should not only reckon with our treatment of public trauma. We should also reckon with the terrible, still persistent blindspots in our media.