Both fallen pop star Britney Spears and fallen pop environmental icon Knut the Polar Bear have recently been diagnosed by non-experts in the media as suffering from mental illness. And each of their respective downfalls were probably perfectly predictable and possibly preventable. But the real question remains: Who is more likely to come out healthy on the other side? Either? Radar reviews the similarities in their tortured case histories …

• Britney was born to still-married parents with normal jobs and raised in rural Louisiana.
• Knut was born to a former circus performer and a lifelong zoo-resident and abandoned by his mother.

Advantage: Britney, since she didn’t almost die.

• Britney was a child gymnast and performer who eventually scored a spot on the New Mickey Mouse Club. Word has it that mother Lynne was a bit of a stage mom.
• Knut was more or less raised by zookeeper Thomas Dörflein who was a surrogate mother and playmate throughout Knut’s spotlighted adolescence.

Advantage: Britney, by default. Her mom was at least technically the same species.

• Britney rose to prominence on the back of a sexually provocative image and a bunch of crappy pop songs, pressed ever forward by her management and parents for whom she was a significant source of income. She balanced her provocative image with (since disproved) claims of being a virgin, which ended with her split with Justin Timberlake.
• Knut spent his early adolescence appearing with his surrogate mommy for the pleasure of the German zoo-visiting public. He was subjected to death threats and his image was used to make plush toys, gummy bears, shitty German pop music, and a children’s book. He also appeared, via the magic of Photoshop, on a Vanity Fair cover with Leonardo DiCaprio. When he outgrew his adorable youth, his surrogate mommy got scared of his size and stopped their joint appearances. From all reports, he remained a virgin—but you sorta never know with Germans.

Advantage: Knut. He didn’t lose his v-card to Timberlake.

Early Adulthood
• Britney married a random unfamous person, annulled it, and then hooked up with and eventually married notorious sperminator Kevin Federline. They had two kids in rapid succession, she ditched him, lost her mind, shaved her head, unsuccessfully “participated” in rehab, lost her mind once again, and is currently involuntarily participating in an inpatient psychiatric program.
• Knut has been declared psychotic by animal activists and reportedly spends his time rolling around in mud without any contact with his human handlers. He still hasn’t gotten laid.

Advantage: Draw. Britney may be institutionalized, but she isn’t a virgin who compulsively rolls in the mud (yet). Both are still in captivity, though.

Final Verdict
Britney will probably end up better off than Knut, if only because it’s nearly impossible to maul a person while wearing a straitjacket.