With Mindy McCready heading to a Tennessee jail tomorrow to serve a 60-day sentence for probation violation, these scenes from Naked Nashville—a terrific 1998 British documentary about Nashville's country music industry—seem particularly prescient. After a brief bout with celebrity in the late '90s, McCready's career took a nosedive as she battled drug problems and other personal demons, including two suicide attempts. Celebrity self-destruction is not uncommon, but seeing its beginnings on video is rare indeed.
The above video from Naked Nashville starts with McCready's tour bus waiting on the bratty then-21-year-old, who's always running late. Things get interesting at about 5:05 into the video. Reba McEntire talks about the political nature of being a woman in country music—"You don't scream, you don't holler, you don't throw tantrums, you don't bitch about stuff.... You've got little eyes watching you all the time"—immediately followed by a scene of McCready in her hotel room throwing a tantrum, bitching and refusing to go to soundcheck. At 7:25, over footage of McCready lying on her hotel bed blowing bubbles and watching TV, Reba says:
"There's one rule: Work hard. Continue to work hard. And keep working hard. If you slough off, if you think, 'Well, I can back off just a little bit,' there's just 8 million people out there that's wantin' to take your place. They're just waiting for you to just kind of slack off just a little bit so they can run past you. And they'll do it."
At 7:50 into the segment below, RCA Label Group Chairman Joe Galante, frustrated with McCready's less than stellar work ethic, reads the writing on the wall:
At the moment, we're trying to finish an album. At the moment, Mindy is in L.A. with [actor Dean Cain, then McCready's boyfriend].... There is a Christmas season coming up that Mindy has to understand.... If you miss Christmas, you miss 60 percent of the year in terms of sales. It also means that, once her album doesn't come out, she no longer qualifies for the Grammies, she won't qualify for the American Music Awards because she won't have any new product. [Cue ominous music] And in our business, out of sight, out of mind. So Mindy has to make a choice what she wants to do. And that if she chooses not to do that, she's made a major mistake, because the window is now. It's not a year from now. It's not six months from now. It is now.
It's easy to drink in the schadenfreude when a celebrity self-destructs. But coming from a broken family and then obtaining success at such an early age was in this case a recipe for disaster. Maybe 60 days in the hole will give her time to reflect and get her life back on track.