Spears Is Back For ‘One More Time’
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Britney Spears has a new commercial for Twister.
I’ll let that sink in for a minute before I continue.
Spears, who notoriously blew out her knee several years ago while dancing, is the face of a game that is—in its 2012 incarnation—entirely about dancing. This poses a question—do we care about what our favorite celebrities are actually able to do, or are we content with blissfully accepting an image that’s been painted about them in the media?
For instance, Spears was taken to task last year for using a body double in her popular “Till The World Ends,” but was equally as derided for her lackluster dance moves during a concert in support of her Femme Fatale album. Although nobody has made a fuss yet, Spears is clearly not dancing in the Twister commercial—there are far too many camera cuts to shots of just legs, then focusing back on Britney as she shimmies her torso, simulating the moves she could once nail so sharply.
Yesterday, she made her debut as the newest judge on The X-Factor, an appearance that has been publicized as a return to the bubbly, funny Spears of old. Media appearances by fellow judges Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, and L.A. Reid have shown an air of reverence surrounding Spears, as if she’s some godly presence who plans to swoop in and save the show with her heavenly ways.
It’s eerie to me because it seems almost as if Spears’ media presence of late has been one giant campaign to wash away her slightly speckled past, to which I say, who cares? Why do phrases like “that was then, this is now” matter so deeply to Americans who find themselves wrapped up in the stories of Spears and others?
It’s this reinvention that has taken place time and time again in pop culture that I’m talking about, like when Justin Timberlake sexed it up on Justified—great album, by the way—or when Christina Aguilera got “Dirty,” gained some weight, got bionic, joined The Voice, and has now reestablished herself as a credible voice in the music industry.
Perhaps it has something to do with the comeback story that we as Americans are so attached to as a trope precisely because we can see ourselves in celebrities’ shoes. Britney had some rough years, Christina hasn’t had a hit in a while, but we like seeing a fighting spirit in these celebrities. This shouldn’t come as news—pop culture icons have been reinventing themselves for years.
The situation we have with Britney, it seems, is one of revisionist history, placing her on this hallowed pedestal as the Princess of Pop. Don’t get me wrong, she’s churned out some incredible pop songs over the years, but that doesn’t mean the viewing public should be brainwashed into believing in the image of Spears that her handlers so desperately want us to embrace. She is who she is, and that’s a human being, flaws and all.
It’s a similar story with Canadian “Call Me Maybe” starlet Carly Rae Jepsen, who ascended to fame so quickly with a seemingly innocuous backstory. I think very few people would be able to identify Jepsen as a former Canadian Idol contestant, just as many were shocked to discover that the supposed teenybopper was in fact 26 years old at the time of the song’s release.
There’s nothing wrong with a little backstory either. I think it’s great that Jepsen has found success doing something she loves, and I think Spears is a good fit for the show she’s now judging. I just don’t like being delivered packaged celebrities every time I confront them.
I find myself gravitating to musicians and actors who embrace who they were and use it to shape who they are—many of whom just happen to be New Yorkers, who never run away from their problems.
Jepsen, Spears, Aguilera—they’re all significant movers and shakers in the world of entertainment, and they’ve all worked to get where they are. They shouldn’t continue to patronize the American public by pretending that they’re perfect.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’d like Britney Spears to be more like Danny Brown, a Detroit rapper who was a major crack addict, whose manic rhymes are surely the byproduct of years of addiction. Spears showed signs of embracing the crazy on Blackout, but now it’s like it never happened. Pull a full Danny Brown, Britney—wear the crazy on your sleeve. It’ll make for a better show.