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A belated happy 30th birthday to Britney Spears

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Double Down, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    It seems sort of surreal that the original Lolita of Pop Music is now 30 years old. Her birthday was yesterday.

    And it seems sort of funny, looking back, what a controversy it was when she showed up on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing hot pants at 16 and people lost their minds. But her rise to fame says a lot about popular culture in the late 90s and early 2000s. Mega fame was achievable without transcendent talent as long as you were hot as hell and willing to walk that hotness right to the edge of pornography before pulling back and winking at the audience, claiming you were a good girl all along and you don't get what all the fuss is about.

    I think most of us would agree that Spears' music is pretty horrible, but she's had sort of a fascinating career. It now seems sort of quaint the way she claimed to be a virgin for so long, and that this fib was deemed an important part of her marketing package -- Klosterman once dubbed her "the naughtiest good girl of all time"-- seeing as how the fastest way to get famous these days is to release a sex tape.

    Someday, Spears is going make for an interesting cultural study. Convinced by stage parents she was the family meal ticket out of poverty, rocketed to fame, was virtually destroyed by it, had some kids, lost her kids, went to rehab, came out of rehab, probably still suffers from mental illness as the result everything, and now she performs weekly looking a bit like some kind of zombie, with no one really sure of who she is or what her real personality is. Least of all, it seems, her. She got lost inside the fame matrix. Yet she still makes a ton of money and has lots of fans. It's a weird story arc for a life.

    Not that it's a necessarily a good thing, but she's the bridge that gets us from, say, Madonna to all the Paris Hiltons and Kim Kardashians. After Britney, talent finally ceded the war and gave way completely to commercial vapidity. Now you can be famous for being famous. It's like a perpetual motion machine. At least Britney's reign on the throne as America's sexual icon require some tiny measure of talent and hard work to get there.

    Anyway, at least she sort of helped give the world Justin Timberlake.
  2. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    As I've mentioned many times around here, I used to work with Britney for a while and I have to give a hat tip to you, DD, for summing her up perfectly.

    At the end of the day, Britney's just a rural Southern gal with not a lot of brains nor, frankly, ambition. But she's a good person.
  3. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    It's not a completely accurate equivalency, but I think Orson Welles predicted what would happen to some of the vapid stars of the 90s. Maybe Susan Alexander is Brittney Spears' future?

  4. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member


    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  5. joe

    joe Active Member

    I don't know, DD, maybe you ought to give this writing thing a try. You might be an effin' stud someday.

    Seriously, though: Holy shit, the shortest and most on-point thing I've ever read about Britney.
  6. Turtle Wexler

    Turtle Wexler Member

    It might have been about Christmas of 1997 when Britney was big; my baby cousins were about 6 and 8, while my brother was about 19. The girls received a Britney album for Christmas.

    My cousins loooooooved Britney because she used to do gymnastics, like they were doing at the time. And they could sing along to her songs. My brother looooooooved Britney because of the hot pants.

    It struck me how, uh, diverse her fan base was, for completely different reasons. Very few celebrities pull off such widespread appeal.

    EDIT: I guess I didn't make the connection until just now, but I wonder the effect of growing up in the "Britney era" had on the girls. The older one became a high school cheerleader (with all that entails), they both worship Victoria's Secret and M.A.C., and every Facebook picture shows them in some kind of kissy duck-lipped pose. Neither gives a lick about school, only about boyfriends and fake IDs. I know some of that is normal for the age, but I wonder how much is the "celeb" influence.
  7. MankyJimy

    MankyJimy Active Member

    It was around Christmas of 1998, actually. I was in high school at the time. Our shop teacher was counting down on the chalkboard the number of days until she turned 18.
  8. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    Is the news that she turned 30 or that she made it to 30? I know, cheap shot. And I'm glad she seems to have made it through her rough patch.
    Agree absolutely about her impact on culture.
    You think about all of the "reality" shows, TMZ etc. that made a celebrity's life (rather than their talent) what drew people in. The Kardashians, Paris Hilton, the Osbornes, Lindsey Lohan, Jessica Simpson, the Hills...
    Their talent (if they have some) are secondary to who they are going out with, what clubs they go to etc.
    There isn't a male celebrity (and lets be honest the Osbornes was about Sharon, not Ozzie) who even came close or comes close to what these people have done.
  9. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Great post by DD, but at what point do we concede she has some talent? When her 50th song goes platinum? When her net worth exceeds a billion dollars?

    I don't agree that her music is horrible. I might like the producing more than her voice-- and I think Dr. luke is a genius-- but her music is good. Sorry. People keep waiting for her to become passe. But if she's a mother of two, twice-divorced, over 30 and still putting out monster hits, folks, i think it's time to say mabe her time han't passed and it ain't gonna pass anytime soon.

    I started taking hip hop classes a couple of years ago in New York City. First song they played: Circus. Second song: Womanizer. I thought to myself... This music is so fucking perfect for this.. And it's Britney Spears.

    Her more recent stuff is even better.
  10. Care Bear

    Care Bear Guest

    I have always felt a certain fondness for Britney.

    She came across as sweet and silly and perhaps a little dim. Her music was catchy and the camera loved her. Back in the day, the college roommates and I were mesmerized by Britney during quite a few of her performances. I definitely recall the VMA performance featuring the green top and boa constrictor. Plus, she simply had more charisma than most of her contemporaries combined. Christina and Jessica had the voices, but Britney was FUN.

    The morning I woke up and discovered she shaved her head was actually a sort of depressing few hours for me. I knew the FUN Britney was forever gone. There was just no recovering from that decision and those images. I felt awful for her. And then there was the bald Shutter Island umbrella incident. And the weird smile she flashed while being strapped down to a gurney in her own driveway. What a fucking awful photo that was. Jesus. What a fucking fall.

    Any success she's experienced since all that shit went down is simply due to her marketing machine. The spark and boa constrictor are forever gone. I am glad she is
    making money and reportedly being a good parent to her two little boys. And I hope she wakes up one morning with a clear head; without the pill bottles on her nightstand. I guess she needs them now; I hope now is not forever.

    Maybe I just associated the end of her FUN as the end of my fun. Britney and I are around the same age. I had serious adult-type stuff to deal with around the same time she lost her shit. At a certain point you can't hide from certain demons. I'm still trying to recover from mistakes I made back then. I'm sorry that she is, too.
  11. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I'm astounded that DD is not an entertainment writer. At least, I don't think he is.
  12. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    1. In retrospect, "terrible" is much too harsh. I would prefer to listen to one Britney song 100 times before I'd listen to one Fergie song twice. Musically, it's been an interesting journey. I think it's clear at this point, her management team made a pretty smart choice steering her toward club music and away from standard pop fare. It's also interesting to debate how much vocal talent, and song writing talent, should matter when discussing the merits of an artist. For instance, I don't think anyone could argue that Spears is within 100 miles of Christina Aguilera as far as vocal skills go. But who has put together the more consistent catalog? Aguilera "over-souls" the shit out of songs, to the point where her greatest strength has become her most annoying attribute. At some point, Spears stopped singing entirely and just chose stuff that allowed her to "whisper-growl" her way through 3 minutes of club thump back beats. But hell, it worked. Even I admit Toxic is a pretty catchy song. If I was drunk at a wedding and a DJ put on Toxic, I guarantee I'd groove to it.

    2. I think my original point meant to imply that she does have talent. That as far as sexual icons go -- and she was absolutely the most dominant sexual icon at one point in our country -- she represents the end of an era. The last one who rose to that position on talent and looks, not looks, marketing, promiscuity and little else. Even if it's hard to define, I think it would be silly to deny she had no talent. In some ways, she was an actress first, artist second. (Even though in a traditional sense, she was not a great actress.) She played the "role" of teen pop princess better than anyone has ever played it, which is part of the reason I think she got a little lost and obviously suffered a very real mental breakdown. She hated the fact that she had to play a role forever. It's a bit like what happened to Natalie Portman's character in Black Swan, expect in reverse. The perfectly normal girl, with normal desires, had to play the innocent sexy swan forever, and at some point, she snapped. But before that happened, she killed the role. Just killed it. Just about everyone in from 1999 to about 2003 had an opinion about Spears. Those MTV Awards performances (the skin colored body suit; the snake; the kiss with Madonna) those are weird markers of my youth. Even if you didn't like that kind of music, and almost all the guys I knew did not, you still talked about her. She was the avatar for a generation of girls who wanted to grow up, be sexy, be famous, but still maintain their childhood and innocence. She was, at one point, thee object of desire for just about every guy in the country, from young to old. She was insanely rich, and being pulled in 10 different directions, asked to be virginal one minute, hyper-sexual the next, and nail these complicated dance numbers night after night. The weight on her tiny shoulders must have been enormous. But for a long time, she pulled it off.

    3. I agree completely with Care Bear about the uncomfortable sadness the head-shaving, umbrella-swinging period brought on. I think that was the first time I realized how truly awful it is to see someone destroyed by modern fame. I think a lot of people thought the erratic behavior and the spectacle of it all was sort of funny and snarky in a detached kind of way. But when it was obvious the whole adventure had basically brought out some serious mental health issues, I think it became overwhelmingly sad. I feel a little protective of her because, like it or not, she's forever going to be woven into the soundtrack of my youth. It would be way cooler to pretend I chased after girls who listened to the Pixies or Hüsker Dü, but for the most part, I chased after girls who had Britney Spears CDs in their cars. Ladies with strawberry lip gloss, $200 highlights, classy tans and low-cut tops. And the memory of that kind of makes me smile, however uncool it might seem.

    4. Lugz, while I assume by "hip hop class" you mean hip hop dance class and not hip hop academic class, I briefly imagined you having to contemplate and debate (and perhaps even write a paper about) the cultural significance of songs like "Dre Day," "Hit 'Em Up," and "Brenda's Got a Baby" and it delighted me to no end.
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