Sep

15

Passing the TorchBritney's MTV performance has been universally skewered, to the extent that the latest mega-viral video on YouTube is an androgynous figure in tears about the injustice.

My take on all this:

1. The song itself, "Gimme More", is very catchy. If Britney had released it before her meltdown, it would be viewed as a Britney tour-de-force. It's got a propulsive beat, and it's sexy. The appropriate foil for Britney is Justin Timberlake, her old flame. The universal wisdom is that Justin is 'da man, and Britney is history. To me, Justin's stuff seems terrible, a laughable, transparent attempt to run away from his heritage as the leader of a boy band, and to project himself as an honorary gangsta. I think Justin should be seen as Vanilla Ice part II. Britney has none of that phoniness. She's just building on the image that she developed for herself–a girl coming of age and progressively transgressing more boundaries, which in a larger picture, have already been transgressed by everyone from Madonna to Pat Boone. In this song, she dares to use the "b" word.

2. She is said to be too fat, and she is indeed a little too plump for my taste. But cut her a break–she's had kids! Also realize that if she were a little too thin, the tabloids would say she has an eating disorder. This is not a fair criticism. Perhaps it's fair to say that she should have gone with a less revealing outfit, which had stripper overtones.

3. Her dancing is said to be lackluster. This is probably a fair criticism. Her moves could have been a bit more crisp. But she was one of about 40 dancers up there, including several provocative pole dancers. I thought the show overall was not too bad, certainly not an embarrassment, by the standards of these things.

The overwhelming negative reaction to Britney's performance is a collective phenomenon, initiated by a few well-placed opinion makers and then repeated everywhere.

James Wisdom writes:

Keep in mind that this performance was presold to the public as her “comeback” appearance after a series of smaller shows this past year. While I appreciate the author’s apologia, let us not forget that Britney’s career is built on sex appeal alone since we all know she’s not writing the songs, performing any of the music or singing. Therefore, with such a narrow offering to begin with, it is appropriate for us to criticize what little she does do — look good, dance, and lip-synch. In this example, none were passable, especially in the context of her “comeback” performance — where she was supposed to provoke the sheeple to keep buying her records and merch.

The media have merely expressed the collective schadenfreude of the millions who look at Britney’s brand of mass-produced “music” with utter disdain. Perhaps if she had offered the world something of more depth and value the wolves may have paused before feasting on her flabby, glassy-eyed, bungling performance.


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