Money can’t buy happiness… right?
I hate all cliches, they make me cringe. But, cliches— like stereotypes— are worth analyzing for the way they persist in our cultural narratives. So let’s take a look at the tired classic, “money can’t buy happiness.”
I’ll be honest: I have money now, and I’ve also gone through periods of living paycheck-to-paycheck, and I have to tell you: having money beats not having it. But money doesn’t guarantee you happiness. If you need proof, look no further than:
Yep. It’s Britney, bitch.
Britney Spears is an icon (duh) and therefore, demand to see her perform live is off-the-charts (double duh). In fact, when Britney performs, she can make between $300,000 to $4 million per show.
If money could buy happiness, Britney would be jumping at the chance to make that kind of dough, and therefore, secure seven-figure euphoria. Especially now that her conservatorship has dissolved, which means that Britney could actually access money earned for future performances.
And yet, Britney revealed on Instagram that she would “probably never perform again.” Sayonara, 4 millie.
Let’s do the caveats: first of all, Britney Spears does not need the money. Court filings during the legal battle around her conservatorship put Britney’s net worth at around $60 million; with the vast majority (just over $56 million) of that sum being in mostly illiquid assets like real estate, investment accounts and real estate.
Even though during the conservatorship Britney’s father took a personal salary and concert commissions (to the tune of anywhere between $2 million and $6 million), and Britney needs to pay Kevin Federline child support, financially, she’s still doing okay.
But, the reason why she works as a case study is this: the conservatorship left her, in her own words, “traumatized.” And in stepping away from her work as a performer, Britney is telling us that money will not be what heals her.
Britney’s inner monologue might be best represented in one of her own songs, Lucky:
“She’s so lucky, she’s a star
But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart, thinking
If there’s nothing missing in my life
Then why do these tears come at night?”
The point here, as I’m sure we all understood as we were singing this song into our hairbrushes at sleepovers, is that money in itself is not fulfilling.
I’ve long said that money doesn’t buy happiness, it buys freedom of choice. Britney certainly showcases this; as both her money and freedom were locked away during her conservatorship. Now, Britney has freedom of choice; and she is choosing to leave money on the table.
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