Tag Archives: Britney Spears

I guess she is the devil after all

Wow. I found a site that puts Focus on the Family’s Plugged-In to shame. Fight the Good Fight reveals how “the most popular musicians from the 1950’s to 2000 have been and are being used as puppets by Satan and his fallen angels to increase man’s rebellion against God.” I can dig that, but even my girl, Britney? Well, I guess so. Who knew?

Keep music evil (image from unamerican.com)

Thanks to Plastic for uncovering this site.

Philosophy & Britney: Musings on the Preceding Post Minus One

A fundamental question is: How much of an individual is separate from the persona? To the extent that the persona is the model of the way that one portrays one’s self in public, and to the extent that individuals are, arguably, defined by how they behave or are perceived in a public setting (if a persona was wandering alone in a forest. . .), then the individual is the persona, at least as a practical manner (with “practical” representing social interaction rather than solipsistic activities). To be sure, no one actually knows how one’s self is perceived by others (one might think that he is being cool while others might think he is being a complete ass. . .while another group of people might think he is being cool: everything has to do with context). But one must present him- or herself in a certain way and there are only a certain number of repertoires that one can engage at any point in time (e.g., I don’t think that it would be taken as an acceptable behavior if one was to present one’s self as, say, a French serf from the mid-16th century); Ziggy Bowie clones are seeming more appropriate (although it would seem to me that there is a curious temporal lag here, too).

While an individual’s self-creation of a persona is one thing, the creation of a persona by a third party is something else entirely. The dismissal of or embrace of Britney has more to do, I suggest, to the fact that Spears is a simulacra than with any snobbishness, direct or reversed. What she is is the consequence of someone creating an object, a Gibsonesque idoru, something that goes far beyond the arch artificiality that is fundamental to and of “The Mickey Mouse Club,” from whence she emerged. This has nothing to do with her singing ability. The reference that Jeff makes to Madonna is exceedingly apt, in that among pop performers she is the one who has worn personas like clothing, moving from one outfit to another, changing with time. Note, for example, how Britney’s initial innocence has given way to naughtiness (but one that we can take is being not scandalous because if Bob Dole finds her to be appealing, then one need not worry about inappropriateness, because Bob Dole would be the first to tell you that Bob Dole, if nothing else, is as appropriate as Bob Dole can be. . .or so the Bob Dole persona would lead us to believe). And presumably she will be morphed into a variety of other guises as time goes on. Public stasis is death, as any viewing of “Entertainment Tonight” will prove.

While one would certainly be in favor of authenticity in place of artificiality, the questions that remain are what would those guys in the park kicking ollies be if they weren’t faux Beasties Boys; what would those guys in Einstein’s Bagels be in they weren’t wondering how to buy a single colored contact lens to achieve the two-color effect; who would anyone be if they weren’t something within the context of our understanding? Fooling one’s self too much is pathological, just as too much self-awareness is debilitating (as Eliot’s Prufrock asked “do I dare eat a peach?”—when you get to this state, you’re thinking way too much).

As Bishop Berkeley argued long ago: To be is to be perceived.

Oops!. . .and the Joy of Monosyllabic Thinking

Back when this site was young, there was a spirited discussion about the phenomenal and physical attributes and values of Britney Spears; consequently, it surprises me that there hasn’t been an analysis put forth about what Spears has recently put out, the lead Pepsi commercial that was broadcast during the Academy Awards telecast. Her packaged paean to the Dionysian aspects of brown carbonated sugar water was in itself unremarkable; the synchronized dance number with a crowd of clones was fresh when Paula Abdul did them, and Ms. Abdul’s sell-by date is long passed. While I am not insensitive to Spears’. . .charms (and I am not referring to the Pepsi logo charm that she had dangling from her belly button), I submit that (a) if she had to put on her own makeup and (b) she was a bagger at Meijer’s, few—if any—of us would give her a second glance. Such are the transmogrifying powers of celebrity.

What is more telling about the nature of pop culture and pop music from those who are manipulating it is the clear contempt with which the consumers of the products are treated. This was evident in the commercial aired in order to keep viewers in an increasing state of anticipation for the Spears commercial to come.

You may have seen another commercial aired last year for a product that is used to remove brake dust and related detritus that adheres to car wheels. There were two guys sitting in plastic-webbed lawn chairs, one of whom was holding a garden hose, both of whom had synapses that fire like a Zippo without fluid. “Yew jus spray it on.” “Yew jus spray it on.” Brilliant. A car-care product for morons.

In the case of the Pepsi spot, the main character is evidently a younger brother (or perhaps uncle) of the two who, in this case, has a job. There he is: white paper hat and apron. A fry cook. (Who among us has not had to wear such gear?) He is shown looking up at something while a fireman in full regalia is frantically working behind the kid, dousing a grease fire (or perhaps Michael Jackson’s dome engulfed in flame, which, as you may recall, was the consequence of a Pepsi ad). Said fry cook is oblivious. The camera reverses so we can see what the slack-jawed focus is on: a TV showing the Britney singing-and-dancing Pepsi commercial (yes, a commercial within a commercial). “Yew jus drink it down.”

What does this say about what Madison Avenue thinks about the consumers of pop?

Britney vs. Madonna

If Britney manages to have as long and successful of a career as Madonna, I will renounce Ms. Ciccone as my Supreme Woman and no longer think about her when I masturbate. Yeah, that would be harder than quitting smoking was, seeing as it’s a 16+ year-old habit, but I won’t have to do it. No way, no how. Britney Spears is just a little talentless pandering hotbox. Madonna was a bitch (and yes, I’m using that in the complimentary way) and a rebel and Britney, well, she’s a corporate brand. In ten years she’ll be fat and married to some burnt out former child actor (Macauley Culkin perhaps?). They’ll have a house in Orange county and a decent income from investments and periodically she’ll appear on Entertainment Tonight talking about her cause du jour— freeing caged apes or some shit like that. Why are we even wasting our time thinking about her? Is the world that devoid of good new artists that we have to actually pay attention to her? I know we can’t just wallow in the early 70s forever (or can we?) but isn’t somebody doing something more interesting than B.S. (nice initials)? What are Liam and Noel up to?

The Credibility of Britney Spears

Goodnight, Irene. I can’t believe you guys. Do you think this will all seem rediculous in five years? Or will this be where the credibility of Britney Spears will be hammered out? I am as big a fan of pop music (especially that created by Nords—Dancing Queen is my favorite song after all…) but really, folks, this just doesn’t ring my bell. Why? What am I missing? I find Britney Spears to be utterly annoying. That little Rock in Rio freak out of hers just added fuel to the fire. Had we heard some little hussie in the mall bitchin’ like that in the mall we would have sneered and shaken our heads because we hate those people. We sure wouldn’t be high-fiving and pointing to it as proof of her coolness. These are the girls we hated in highschool. Is that why you love them now? What is the psychology behind it? And don’t say it’s the music, Jake, because you really did defend Britney Spears like a teenage girl in the LOST LETTER. I think there’s something deeper. Dig it up and smell it.

Phil

A Fan of Goatee’d Svengalies Transliterating Swedish Pop into English

Well, it looks like I’m in the Jake camp on this one. Given my 02/06/01 comments about Britney and her tube sock wristbands, I can only be called what I am: A fan. Fan of what? Goatee’d svengalies transliterating Swedish pop into english so Britney, Mandy, Christina, or Jessica can rake in some t-shirt and Official Program sales down at local arena? By suggesting that there is a sliver of entertainment value extracted from listening to “Stronger” or “Baby One More Time,” am I admitting that I had a Roxette poster over my bed in 1989, and that I don’t like pop music unless there’s a shady impresario in a fire-lit chamber somewhere in the Swedish hill country, smoking cigars made of Swedish C-Notes, and laughing as he eats his meat and swills Bayerskt from a flagon?

No, man. I just think that Britney kid puts me in a good mood when I see her. All that singin’, dancin’, and jiggling flesh HAS to turn that frown upside down!

JTL

The Value of Britney Spears

I’m a little embarrassed to be spending more time on this, but my man Phil and I were recently harassing each other over our difference of opinion on the value of Britney Spears. Our email discussion went like this:

> Every time you say something or write about Britney

> Spears I cringe. I really do. My face gets all twisted

> and I just shake my head. I just don’t get it.

> Phil

I like her hits. And I like her. I think she’s sassy.

Jake

> Yeah, but that awful music. Seriously…

> Phil

I am convinced that in the future, people are going to look back at N Sync and the Backstreet Boys and all this Destiny’s Child crap like we look back at Leo Sayer and the Partridge Family and all the throwaway disco hits of the day. And Britney, depending how she deals with her career, might end up like ABBA or someone who’s a little more respected now. I don’t know. She a step above the Christina Aguelleras and the Mandy Moores (or whatever). “Baby One More Time” and “Oops! I Did It Again” are both really cool songs. I like them.

Most music freaks hated Madonna when she came out, but now who doesn’t love “Borderline”? Right? And that’s not even talking about her latest two albums which have both been great.

Give Britney some time. She’ll grow on you. (I don’t care for her ballads though.)

Jake

> Um, I think you’re right that it all depends on how

> Britney Spears handles her career. She could just as

> easily end up like Tiffany or Debbie Gibson. The

> difference with Madonna (who I can not even stand to

> hear speak anymore, but that’s another issue) is that

> she came from the club scene. She did have some

> credibility. She was not molded into her pop star

> persona. The clothes and attitude she had back then

> was very Rock and Roll, and entirely hers, even if her

> songs were pop. Britney Spears is manufactured. Does

> anyone really believe she’s a virgin? Does anyone

> care? Yet, that is key to her marketing. I like her

> boobies too, just like I like Christina Aguilara’s

> rear-end, but their music stinks. It’s just plain bad.

> Phil

The Monkees were manufactured and they rule. Being manufactured does not disqualify an artist from being good and you know it. You’ve put songs by the Partridge Family on mix tapes for me. And who doesn’t love the Banana Splits?

If you don’t like her music, you don’t like her music, and we can agree to disagree on that. I like it and I think some of her songs are really good.

But I hear a lot of people giving her crap not based on her music but on her image or whatever.

There are other bands I like that you don’t like that you don’t give me such a hard time about. What’s the big deal with Britney?

Jake

PS – I’ve started enjoying listening to Madonna’s accent du jour… Is she English? Is she European? Is she Spanish? I think she went to the Elizabeth Taylor school of pronunciation.

Phil responded to this, calling me a 14-year-old girl, and other funny stuff, but we lost that message. So you’ll never know what the big deal is with Britney. And so I get the last word. Until next time…

Britney. What are we going to do with you?

Sure, you wore sweat sock wrist bands at the Super Bowl, accessorizing wonderfully with football pants and —shocker!— a tight halter top. Your blonde mane undulated as you tough-talked your way across the stage, doing the tube sock boogie with Aerosmith and those jackasses in N*Sync. What can we say? You played your role and got the hell out. There isn’t much more we can ask of a teen pop sensation who happens to embody the sexual frustration of a nation’s males.

That’s what’s intrigued us about you from the beginning, girl. Your first record’s cover art featured you, doe-eyed and pig-tailed, gaping at the camera with sugar plums and fairies dancing in your baby blues. “My, what big eyes you have,” you said as you stared back at us, head cocked unsuredly to the side. How could we have known? Who could have predicted that you’d be anything more than a female Bobby Sherman, a new generation’s Tiffany?

Then came THE VIDEO.

The head was cocked at the same angle, and the pig-tails were there. But something had gone terribly wrong. Mascara? Pouting lips? Talk about blonde ambition. The girl on TV had done a Daisy Duke on her shirt, rolled up the tartan, and thrown her bra in the trash. She was a vision out of your average “Pentouse: Forum”, and Jenna Jameson was in the wings saying “you go, girl!” Wake up late, honey put on your clothes, and take the credit car to the liquor store. That’s what your doe-eyes were doing for us, now…

A lot has changed since 1998, and I don’t mean trading pig-tails for a blood red catsuit. Britney has emerged not simply as a sex fantasy wrapped up in sugary teen clothes, but as a revenue-creating brand for Jive Entertainment, and in a larger sense The Machine of the music industry. At an MTV-sponsored halftime show, why wouldn’t they tap their most recognizable and bankable brands, Britney and N*Sync, as major players? That’s good business. After all, it really is all about the benjamins.

Britney isn’t the next Tiffany, or the same as Richie Valens, The Ohio Express, or any other music industry product before her. Because the music she performs is an afterthought in a larger entertainment aura, I believe it’s no big thing to like that music. Listening to “Stronger” by Britney Spears (off of her latest opus, “…Oops, I Did It Again”) for me is sort of like reading Entertainment Weekly, or watching a re-run of “Wings.” I don’t seek out doing either, but when it’s there I might enjoy it for a minute, on a sort of entertainment-static level. The value-add of the Britney brand is that she’s in 3-D and isn’t named Steven Weber.