Most people’s knowledge of Chris Crocker begins and ends with his ultra-viral 2007 “leave Britney alone!” video, which found the sobbing, apoplectic 19-year-old screaming in defense of the beleaguered pop icon. Crocker’s passion was good for a chuckle, but, as tends to happen on the internet, things quickly turned hateful. Fox And Friends made transphobic jokes at his expense, Jimmy Kimmel mocked his masculinity, and every other comment on Crocker’s YouTube page implored him to kill himself.
Now, 10 years later, Crocker has released a short video—roughly the same length as the one that started it all—sharing what he’s learned from the whole ordeal, as well as a bit about the personal trauma that triggered his intense emotions at the time.
Accompanying it all is a fascinating INTO piece that contextualizes Crocker’s video in the pantheon of virality and discusses how “unchecked transphobia” factored into the response.
As Nico Lang writes in INTO:
What’s often lost in the conversation, as Crocker explains in a phone interview, is that he was dealing with his own private hell at the time. His mother, who gave birth to Crocker when she was just 14, had recently come back from Iraq. She was homeless and addicted to methamphetamines. Any money he earned went toward putting his mother up in hotel rooms every night, ensuring that she had a roof over her head.
“There were a lot of unconscious motivators to fuel my fire,” Crocker says. “The two women I looked up to the most—Britney, who was my idol, and then my mom—were falling from grace. My family had given up on my mom and lost hope for her recovery. I was in a place of defending her and getting my family to root for my mom again.”
“I was probably having a breakdown,” he adds.
The positive thing is that culture’s come a long way in 10 years, and several on Twitter have shared their support for Crocker since he opened up.
Also, no, he still hasn’t met Britney.