At my house, I put up all my favorite newspaper and magazine clippings on my fridge. Who can resist a picture of the poor man”s celebrity couple, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, smugly hugging next to the headline “Irresistible! Jessica & Nick Engaged!” The press is kind enough to bring us news and information along with gorgeous celebrities complete with their triumphs and downfalls, along with pictures of wrestling matches featuring young men grappling on the floor and Abercrombie twins wading naked though a pond. Sigh. We live in a beautiful country with beautiful, beautiful freedoms.

Paul Wong
DJ John Lamberson, Angela Pilchak and Ben Tausig share a few laughs during “The Jon and Angela Show.”<br><br>ALYSSA WOOD/Daily

Of course, last year”s best entertainment headlines were all Mariah Carey related. You could make a magnetic poetry set of them, including the words “released,” “hospital,” “stress” and “contract.” String them together for the best of the bunch: from “Mariah Carey admitted to hospital” and “Mariah Carey released from clinic” to the most recent, though lucrative humiliation, “Mariah Carey released from EMI contract.” Even to the casual observer, it was all too hilarious to watch happen: the plummet of a superstar who demands puppies be present at photo-shoots, dates famous baseball players and tours the world. Finally, her plummet! America watches in awe!

At this point, though, I actually feel sorry for her. Mariah”s like an unwanted puppy that”s been wrapped in a black plastic bag and thrown into traffic. You cannot hate her you cannot hold anything against her you only have the instinct to run, quickly, to save her to take her home, clean her up and protect her. Here, then, as part of my civic duty, is a seven-step program for America”s new favorite failure to pick herself off the ground and back into our hearts.

1. Put your clothes back on. What kind of fashion trend exactly were you trying to inspire with your double-handkerchief bra in your “Loverboy” video? Handkerchiefs work as headgear and snot rags they”re not versatile enough to showcase breasts too. In general, you”ve got to surrender your halter-top days. You just got $28 million from being released from your contract, so why are you acting like you hang out at the mall on Sunday? You cannot be Britney Spears, and why should you be? Be Mariah Carey, but be older, wiser and sexier. Wear gorgeous dresses. Outdo Jennifer Lopez. Abuse your celebrity to get free Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana. God knows I would.

2. Get centered. Whatever you do, do NOT try to inspire fashion trends. A founding principle of ceramics is centering your clay on the spinning wheel. With the wet clay between your hands, you”ve got to focus, so that as you mold your shape, it is even and does not spin out of control. You”ve got to get some rational style down before you go off and try to be the next trendsetter. Roll with the fashion trends for now. Do the same with your life: focus and get centered before you spread out into your next beautiful form.

3. Hair today, gone tomorrow. That washed out-honeyed hair is played out. Even if you were one of the first ones to do it, you look now like Shakira or Jennifer Lopez at a glance. You”ve got to go dark. Think Penelope Cruz. Showcase your long locks with dark tresses, perhaps a little wave, perhaps nice layers. Besides, it”s proven people take brunettes more seriously I don”t make the hair politics, I just tell it like it is. Think: elegance, sophistication. Throw away that disposable blonde look.

4. Congratulations on your divorce! I know it”s been years now, but you divorced the love of your life and we didn”t even get a divorce album out of the deal! What”s up with that? Quit singing about butterflies and rainbows for a minute and let us in on your heartache. Believe us, we want to hear. You don”t have to go all out Alanis Morrisette, but tap into that pain!

5. Keep your big one out of my throat. Aside from certain inherent problems with the movie “Glitter,” the strategy was all wrong. You need to ease into your acting career slowly so we can get used to it. Don”t just try to jam a film-album-extravaganza down our throat. Independent films should be your inroad. Take small roles with good directors and find out what works for you. You might not be the lead-role actress you want to be, but who knows? You might make great supporting roles or comic relief. Also: Quit with the cute cameos. No one wants to see you on “Ally McBeal.” No wants to see “Ally McBeal.” Two sinking ships do not make a buoy.

6. Drop the hotties date dorks. So, if you”ve followed my plan up to this point, you”ve got your head on straight, you”ve been single long enough to get to know yourself and what you want. What”s next, dating Seann William Scott? David Boreanaz? No! It may be hard, but you”ve gotta cut the bad boys and major recording label moguls out of your life! They”re no good for you. Might I suggest the Sarah Jessica Parker romance plan? Where did eight years with drug-using Robert Downey Jr. get her? The same place “Glitter” got you: A long walk off a short pier. But after hitching up with sexy sweet-potato Matthew Broderick, she got herself some happiness, some stability and that hunk of loving to come home to every night. Who needs motorcycles? So, think dorks. The kind with the thick-black framed glasses perhaps a web designer or independent film actor. Just don”t have an affair with Bill Gates. That”s a headline none of us want to see.

7. Mock yourself. Yes, all of America is laughing at you, so you can feel free to join in too. It was wonderful to see Kathie Lee”s first project after leaving her morning show as a washed-out drug addict ready to jump from a billboard to escape her life. I”m not suggesting you go on top of a billboard and jump. Just make fun of yourself. You”re young, beautiful, have a voice, an audience and that $28 million severance pay I just can”t forget about. If Madonna could survive the backlash that was the American hypocrisy and hatred after her “SEX” book, you can get over a little mental breakdown and downsizing. Just be thankful you”re not the Backstreet Boys. There”s no hope for them.

Japiya Burns can be reached at japiyab@umich.edu.

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