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Tony Grist

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Britney [Oct. 7th, 2007|10:37 am]
Tony Grist
Elsewhere on LJ I got into a conversation about Britney Spears. This morning- as usual- the papers are full of her.  I'd rather not look but I can't help myself. It's a bit like watching a public execution. 

Or like going to Bedlam to gawp at the mad folk. 

Why are we so angry? 

I think it's because we know we've been manipulated. Here's this dancing doll who has been presented to us as something she's not  (a dewy fresh Southern virgin, a great performer, America's sweetheart) and we've had her marketed at us and marketed at us and we've bought her records in spite of a suspicion that they were kinda tacky and false- and now we've seen what's going on behind the scenes and we want revenge. Part of our anger is anger at ourselves for letting ourselves be taken in so.

Because here she is releasing another album that promotes her as this sexy thing wrapped round a dance pole when we know she's an orphan of the storm with an armoury of facial ticks who neglects her children and barely knows night from day. We'll buy it because the brand is so powerful but at the same time our consciousness of the disjunction between image and reality breeds rage.

She has come to symbolise the Lie. The Lie about human nature and the state of the world that is being continually pushed at us by politicians, advertisers, preachers,  journalists and entertainers- the Panglossian Lie that all is for the best in the Best of all Possible Worlds and you can be part of it too if you vote for me, me, me or buy this, this, this.

Britney lives the Lie- and we can see how it's turned into a nightmare for her- and yet she keeps on selling it.  Of course we're mad at her.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: momof2girls
2007-10-07 12:24 pm (UTC)
I agree with you, and you put it very well, much better than I could have. And we can't help watching her - it's like rubbernecking at a car accident. We know we shouldn't watch, but we can't make ourselves *not* watch.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-07 05:38 pm (UTC)
I feel sorry for her. Like Judy Garland, like Michael Jackson, she never had a childhood. She doesn't know what "normal" life is like.
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2007-10-07 12:40 pm (UTC)
I think people buy the album because it's the Lie. Scandalous lifestyles and trainwreck behavior always sell better than sobriety and forbearance.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-07 05:39 pm (UTC)
She does all the things we dare not do on our behalf.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2007-10-07 01:34 pm (UTC)
I'm not angry; I simply do not care about Britney. It's gotten SO bad, that if she's on the news, I'll change the channel. I have a LOT better things to do with my time than worry about someone who clearly cares so little for herself.

That being said, this is an interesting comment: "We'll buy it because the brand is so powerful but at the same time our consciousness of the disjunction between image and reality breeds rage."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-07 05:45 pm (UTC)
We probably get fed less Britney than you do. We have our own celebs to chew over. Amy Winehouse for example, Pete Docherty and Kate Moss (all reasonably talented people). And lots and lots of reality TV "stars" and soap "stars" who- for very good reasons- you'll never have heard of.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2007-10-07 02:29 pm (UTC)
our consciousness of the disjunction between image and reality breeds rage

I'm not sure why you're letting this get to you. I don't fee any rage about her at all. Then again, I know virtually nothing about Britney. I don't read the tabloid press and I don't buy her records therefore she really doesn't impinge on my life at all.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-07 05:46 pm (UTC)
I find it interesting. It's something that's going on in our society and I want to try and understand it.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2007-10-07 06:10 pm (UTC)
I want to try and understand it

Ah, now there's a job and a half. :)

I think I've given up trying to do that.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-07 06:17 pm (UTC)
It keeps me off the streets. :)
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2007-10-07 02:29 pm (UTC)
Sorry, fresh out of outrage on this one. The story, insomuch as it involves the wreck and ruin of a nominally adult human being and at least two innocents, is tragic, obviously. She was shamelessly exploited by Disney, the music industry, the press, and the more tragic the story becomes, the more incentive they all have - Britney included - to mine what little profit remains. Sure it's outrageous, but it tells me nothing about our voyeuristic culture I hadn't already known.

We're supposed to marvel that Disney's other animatronic creations are merely latex and clever engineering, yet why should we be so shocked that Britney was just so much teenage flesh and raw ambition? I don't doubt that there are scores of other exotic dancers out there that can and do perform as well or better as Ms Spears and have done so throughout their careers with far more class and poise. The difference is that their expressions of l'art érotique never enjoyed society's seal of approval, let alone Disney's.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-07 05:59 pm (UTC)
We create these monsters- Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, Britney- and then we destroy them. There's a mythic dimension to the story.

And as I was writing this I suddenly had a vision of Boris Karloff running for the old mill with a baying mob at his heels.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2007-10-08 07:19 pm (UTC)
An excellent image.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2007-10-09 09:11 am (UTC)
We create these monsters- Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, Britney- and then we destroy them.

I don't know that I believe that.

She was a factory effort, tightly controlled by a team of wranglers who wrote her music, taught her how to gyrate for the masses and gasp provocatively, and I think even she bought into the idea that she was an artist.

But then adulthood hits, and the team reluctantly pulls back because adulthood means responsibility, and now the package is falling apart because she was never an artist in control of the final product--she simply was the final product.

Interesting article recently suggested that Britney was marketed from the very start not as talented but as sexual; she was a teen tease, not a singer. A couple of kids, a few too many nights partying, and she's still trying to sell us the same story but it no longer fits, so she's just a bit of a nostalgic spectacle now.

For someone once proclaimed Madonna's heir (yay qos!), she is remarkably inept at reinventing herself.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-09 10:15 am (UTC)
Yeah, she's talentless- or pretty much so- and that makes it even sadder. Because she has no resources to fall back on. The media pursuit of her is like a blood sport.

Madonna was always in control. She's a monster too, but a divine monster- largely self-created- and capable of trading punch for punch.
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[User Picture]From: richenda
2007-10-07 03:24 pm (UTC)
It sounds sad - but I've no idea who she is or what has happened to her
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-07 05:59 pm (UTC)
You're not missing anything of value. :)
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[User Picture]From: qos
2007-10-07 03:44 pm (UTC)
I want you to know, my friend, that you're one of the few people who could get me to discuss Britney at all.

Personally, I think that the continual Britney fascination has its roots in our society's ongoing dysfunction about how we perceive and judge and market female sexuality. If I remember, part of the original Britney sensation (and I have not paid much attention over the years) is that she was this pretty young teenager who (like many before her) had been packaged as being more sexually mature -- and avalable for fantasy -- than she was or should have been. Her early repeated statements of "I'm still a virgin!" only added to the focus on her sexuality rather than what talent she did or did not have.

When she was no longer to make that claim, it was news. When Madonna -- the mistress of sexual presentation (but a lot more in control of herself and her career than Britney) -- named her an heir apparent, it was news. It's always been about sex.

Now she's married and has kids and she's news because the Pure(?) Young Sweetheart who was groomed, packaged, manipulated, sold, bought, and put on display has no maturity or coping skills --- and is gasp! A Bad Mother.

And of course there is no greater crime for a woman than to be A Bad Mother.

The fact that the life she's lived to this point hasn't prepared her for that kind of responsibility, and that those who are riveted to her tragedy were part of the machine that's consumed her, perhaps only adds to the interest for some. They got to consume her and now they can act superior and point fingers at her and shake their heads and reinforce how good and responsible they are. Britney had everything but she's a mess and A Bad Mother. We're so superior to her.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-07 06:16 pm (UTC)
I think I read somewhere that she entered show-biz at the age of 3. She has one of those howlingly ambitious, show-biz mothers.

She never had the chance of a "normal" childhood.

I agree with all you say. She was used, exploited, hung out to dry. There are people in her past who should probably be arraigned for child abuse- only of course it doesn't work like that.

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From: algabal
2007-10-07 10:05 pm (UTC)
I love what Britney represents: both innocent schoolgirl, earthmother, and drug-addicted sexual hedonist, both postmodern cultural icon and confused, deluded child. The late 90s was the best of all possible worlds.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-08 09:29 am (UTC)
Finally, someone prepared to speak up for the poor, wee mite. It makes a lovely change.
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