I was driving up highway 17 the other day, top down despite the threatening weather, ZZ Top playing slightly louder than strictly necessary. Inexorably, inevitably, sure as night follows day and a pilot for a terrible television series follows the Super Bowl, my mind turned from Tres Hombres to Britney Spears.
To call me a fan of Ms. Spears would not be terribly accurate. Her music and schoolgirl-slut image is interchangeable in my mind with that of several other forgettable young women. Presented with a song by one of them, I expect I’d guess the correct singer at a rate only slightly higher than random chance. I’m pretty sure she did one called “Not That Innocent” or something like that.
Recently I learned that she was a Mouseketeer, along with another of the interchangeable popsters, and Justin Timberlake. I didn’t even know they still had Mouseketeers. Maybe now they’ll reconsider. If memory serves Britney and Justin were together for a while, but I might be thinking of some other guy.
I’m not a fan, but I think about Britney every once in a while. Somehow she came to define the whole pop-bimbo image, the platonic ideal of sweaty teenage jizz-bait. Then something went wrong, and I heard even less about her than I had before. A year or two ago she tried to stage a ‘comeback’ (it says something about us that someone in their twenties can come back), and I read that it was a disaster. Recently I saw her face on a perfume commercial, so I’m pretty sure she’s not dead.
The things I read about her comeback meltdown were almost giddy in their celebration of the crash of one of the most famous people of the previous decade. While I was never a fan, I also took no pleasure in her downfall. I could have told her that her comeback was ill-concieved, however, had she taken the time to ask me. Britney the schoolgirl cock-tease won’t work anymore. There’s too much history. Under my sage guidance Britney could come back, however — just not as a recapitulation of what she was before.
This is what occurred to me while listening to crunching electric guitars while driving a curvy road. Britney is now in a position to make an album I would buy, and I suspect a lot of other people would too. The title would be Mea Culpa and it would be about her real experiences, the mistakes she made, her lessons learned and her hope for the future. She would tell us of the fear and insecurity and the agents and handlers and the drugs and all the other stuff that can make anyone’s life go haywire. It would be her taking responsibility for her life, and showing the strength to rise up and move on. That would be a cool album.
It would be Britney evolving from a singer into an artist. Does she have what it takes to make an album like that? The artistic power and the courage to open her soul? I doubt we will ever know. Her people would never stand for it.
A friend used to work for Beyonce’s PR team. It is interesting that she has been seemingly untouchable as far as scandals go. What makes one popstar flameout and the next hold steady?
Based on Tiger woods rapid fall from unblemished record, I wouldn’t be surprised if Beyonce’s armor isn’t inpenetrable. If only because the statistics seem so brutal.
From what I remember, Beyonce had a rough childhood and overcame it. Britney, on the other hand, seems to have been spoiled from the get-go. There seems to be something about overcoming adversity that makes a star resistant to the sordid stuff later on.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it was a matter of being spoiled. I’m far from the world’s greatest Britney Spears fan, but there seems to be quite a bit of information floating around that points in the direction of her mother being bipolar and Britney coming by her insanity honestly. All the more reason that a heavy, honest, soul-searching album would be good for her as well as for her fans, and all the more reason why it is likely to never happen.
I do have to say, Jerry, if Christina Aguilera is the other interchangeable pop star former Mouseketeer to which you are referring, then… no. Sorry, but no. Christina Aguilera has a great voice, something Britney never had even at her peak. As for her personal life, again, no comparison. She is married to a man she had been dating for three years prior to marrying. Two years after they got married, they had a baby. About the most scandalous thing to come out of her mouth in recent history was the statement that she wouldn’t mind nursing her son for as long as possible because she liked being an E cup. And I think most women would agree that’s pretty reasonable.
Well, the whole problem is that that would be a move that would confuse the people who still dedicate themselves to her. Plus, it wouldn’t make much sense in their eyes if they see their role model making good decisions.