The car crash continues. It looks like something you'd stumble across on Men & Motors at 3am.
Here's a piece I wrote for the Sunday Tribune the other week about Britters:
“It’s not sexy enough.” That was Britney Spears’ response when her handlers backstage at the MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas last Sunday presented her with a corset to wear to hide a body that produced two children in as many years. A size ten woman? On TV? For shame! Instead, Britney took to the stage in a bra, knickers and fishnet tights. She preformed awfully, mucking up the lip-synching to her new single ‘Gimme More’ that reached number 85 in the American charts this week, flailing almost zombie-like through dodgy dance moves, and eventually exiting stage left apparently wailing, “Oh, my God, I looked like a fat pig! I looked like a fat pig!” after spotting herself in the monitor screens. According to Britney, it just wasn’t sexy enough.
‘Sexy’ is what Britney Spears was raised on. In 1999, the then 17-year-old appeared on the cover of the Rolling Stone in a similar bra and drawers outfit, clutching a Tellytubby cuddly toy. It was a watershed moment in popular culture’s sexualisation of children. And it was the moment Britney achieved what none of her peers – not Christina Aguilera, not Rihanna, barely Beyonce – have: she became a pop icon. She became sex. Underage sex, for that matter.
Since entering the cult of sexiness, Britney has yet to find a get-out clause. Her recent disintegration, lit by the glare of paparazzi flashes, indicated that she was sick of being poked, primped and sexified – the public head shaving, the firing of stylists and managers, the stints in rehab. But she has emerged more damaged than ever, refusing clothes at magazine photo shoots and music video recordings that aren’t “sexy enough” and in falling around the clubs of Hollywood and Las Vegas dressed like a hooker.
Of course, this car crash can be blamed on lots of things; a marriage break-up, a falling out with her mother, the demands of parenthood, and the rumours of extensive alcohol and drug abuse that most people in the sex, sorry, ‘entertainment’ industry fall victim to at some stage. But there’s a hidden force driving her breakdown and confusion, one that sends a warning shot in the direction of the parents of a generation of children who have become overly sexualised. Britney Spears is the victim of a culture that put her in underwear on the cover of a magazine when she was barely old enough to have sex. She is the victim of a culture that escorted her to a video shoot in a pornified version of a school uniform to sing her debut single ‘(Hit Me)… Baby One More Time’. She is the victim of a management team who told her to coo about her virginity in interviews, and then head off on world tours that featured stage shows full of weird bondage and S&M imagery.
As a younger generation’s Madonna, Britney’s influence was huge. As Ariel Levy noted in the opening lines of the introduction to her essential book ‘Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture’, “Britney Spears was becoming increasingly popular and increasingly unclothed, and her undulating body ultimately became so familiar to me I felt like we used to go out.” Britney’s fans in the late nineties were mainly tweens. Those girls are now teens, and the same girls who are reenacting her knickerless performances at our teen discos at the weekend. The same girls, who like Britney, choose to dress like strippers, make themselves up like drag queens and act like sluts and then head of to Ayia Napa to dance to her comeback single and share STIs with the stealth and rapidness of Bluetoothing each other Britney ringtones. At least Madonna made half-arsed attempts at dressing up her behavior with feminist quotation marks and came through it smart enough to ban her own children from watching TV.
Yes, the breakdown of the first pop icon of the 21st Century is very much a tail of caution for Generation Britney. Where does sexy get you? Up the duff times two, with a stoner hubby, allegations of child neglect and your peers laughing in your face as you disgrace yourself for perhaps the last time. Well, the Video Music Awards would have been the last disgrace, if Britney didn’t hit the town that night in a short dress with no knickers and spread ‘em for the waiting photographers as she alighted from her limo. Aren’t we over the crotch shot already? Now the gospel according to sexy she so scantily preached, is coming back - for want of a better phrase - to bite her in the ass. And if she covered that up once in a while, maybe karma wouldn’t have broken the skin.
While we're at it, let's remember the glory days: