Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
It’s probably one of the first truly viral video moments: a man bearing his heart and soul and smudged mascara for the camera, pleading for the public to “leave Britney alone”:
In 2007, following a spate of really bad press for Britney Spears, Chris Crocker uploaded a video to YouTube begging the media and the general public not to speak ill of Spears because she was already going through a rough patch.
The year 2007 was undoubtedly a dark time for the star:
currently feeling like 2007 Britney Spears. pic.twitter.com/Ai8zptUgRx
— Alex Ochoa (@Alex8awa) August 2, 2017
It didn’t get any better when Spears made a “comeback” performance during the fall of that year at the MTV Video Music Awards, which was panned by critics and fans.
Crocker, however, came to her defense.
In his appeal to be the public’s sense of compassion, Crocker made emotionally charged threats to take his life should the harsh criticism of Spears bring her to the brink of ending her own:
“If anything ever happens to her I’m jumping off the nearest f**king building.”
As Know Your Meme writes, Crocker’s video gained 2 million views in under two hours and had 43 million views by 2012.
But it wasn’t just sympathy for Spears that drove Crocker to cry on camera.
Ten years since going viral, Crocker has revealed his outburst was sparked by the personal issues he was dealing with in his home life as well.
In an interview with Broadly, Crocker shared that his mom was struggling with addiction at the same time:
“The reason I was so vocal about standing up for [Spears] was because my mom actually had just gotten back from the war in Iraq. She was a veteran. it was the same time that my mom was going through an addiction problem, and she became homeless.”
Crocker added that he spent years in therapy to help him understand everything that was going on:
“It was just two women who I really looked up to. I was already defensive because I was trying to help my mom. Then, seeing my favorite pop star, who gave me inspiration, to be struggling as well, was a parallel.”
Having been a mega-fan of Spears since the “fourth or fifth” grade, it was hard for the 19-year-old to see the lives of his two favorite women deteriorate.
Crocker added he didn’t realize the connection between his mother and Spears until a few years later:
“I was like nineteen when [the video was filmed]. I wasn’t the most introspective, but I didn’t really realize until four or five years later, when I was filming my HBO documentary, because they were asking me these questions as well on camera. No one had ever really asked me why! It was kind of conflicting as well, because I do comedy videos. I didn’t really know how to sincerely communicate. It was confusing for me to know how to be my authentic self in interviews, like when I was on Maury, because I knew people already thought of me as a joke.
Crocker didn’t reveal the status of his relationship with his mother but has made it clear through his social media videos that he is close with his grandmother.
As for whether Crocker’s tears were real, he said:
“Here’s the thing: Even though I know how sincere I was, I also can watch things from other people’s points of view.”
He added: “I could see why people thought it was funny, because I’m pretty melodramatic when I’m upset (or in general).”