As fans criticize the people who made Britney Spears' career a living hell, it's important to remember those who defended her along the way. Craig Ferguson's 2007 monologue about Spears is going viral on Twitter in the wake of Framing Britney Spears, the new documentary that unpacks her controversial conservatorship and how the media treated her throughout her career. Now, fans are praising the former Late Late Show host for recognizing that the singer was in distress and declaring that he would not make fun of her on national TV — unlike most comedians and late-night hosts at the time.
Ferguson's monologue aired on Feb. 20, 2007, just days after Spears notoriously shaved her head. Ferguson began by speaking out against a type of comedy that sees people "punching down" at public figures in the media, which was especially rampant in the mid-2000s and mainly aimed at women. "I think we’re kind of holding the camera, and people are falling apart," he remarked, citing Anna Nicole Smith's 2007 death as an example. Sadly, the audience laughed about that. “No, it’s not a joke," he told them. "It stops being funny."
He went on to explain how comedy should not aim at vulnerable people, but those in power, like politicians and "the Trumps." No lie was detected. "I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about making fun of these people," he said. "For me, comedy should have a sentiment of joy in it. It should be about artists attacking the powerful people... So tonight, no Britney Spears jokes. This woman has two kids, she's 25 years old. She's a baby herself."
Ferguson's remarks on Spears were part of a larger monologue in which he opened up about his own experiences with addiction and sobriety. While he refrained from speculating what Spears was going through, he said her public incidents reminded him of his own struggles 15 years prior and sent his best wishes to the singer. It didn't stop the audience from laughing at times (which tells you everything you should know), but Ferguson's intentions were pure.
The resurfacing of Ferguson's monologue comes as Justin Timberlake and Diane Sawyer face backlash from fans for how they unfairly portrayed Spears after her public split from the 'N Sync alum, citing it as an example of sexism. Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" video fed into tabloid rumors that Spears cheated on him, which have never been confirmed. In a 2003 interview, Sawyer pinned the blame for the breakup on a then 22-year-old Spears, asking her, "You broke his heart. You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?" Here's hoping they both take a lesson from Ferguson.