thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Britney Spears and “I Wanna Go”

In girl culture on June 23, 2011 at 2:44 am

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Britney Spears and “I Wanna Go”

Sarah Todd

On the record, did Britney end up making a comeback or not? I can’t tell from the way people talk about her. At the moment, she seems somewhat in the middle: nowhere near her early-2000s popularity heights, but not getting ridiculed in the tabloids on a daily basis either. Anyway, the truth is that Britney’s never coming back. At least, she’ll never be what she once was, and why should anyone expect her to be? She can’t be a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl somehow made responsible for working out the entire country’s virgin/whore complex again. Although she’s still young, she’s a different person now. It would be worrisome and far more disturbing if she wasn’t. If she wasn’t getting older, she’d be a vampire, and I’d be frightened.

Her new video “I Wanna Go” is pretty fun and self-aware. Britney jokes about tabloid rumors and fights off paparazzi-robots and makes excellent Half-Baked references. Her boots look like they’re good for making people bleed. I imagine that’s what she’s going for: the woman has plenty to be mad about. I would definitely see Crossroads 2: Cross Harder. I mean that one hundred percent un-ironically.

Although Britney is awesome throughout the video, smashing cameras left and right, the best parts are her reactions to Guillermo Diaz as he pours milk all over his face. At first she’s bewildered but trying to convince herself it’s kind of sexy…

Then she’s like, “Really, Guillermo? More milk? Okay, I guess. You do your thing.”

Finally, she just starts laughing: she’s in a car with a lunatic, but he’s a fun lunatic. No big deal.

Of course, eventually it turns out he’s a robot, just like basically everyone else in this video except Britney. Which is interesting, because Britney herself seemed like a robot before her breakdown. She had precise dance moves, superhuman abdominal muscles, and a vacant gaze. To all appearances, she was the kind of girl Warren from Buffy would have built.

However: just because we can’t readily see the evidence of a person’s interior life doesn’t mean they don’t have one. When Britney shaved her head and walked barefoot in gas stations, people ganged up on her. A big part of the reason they were so quick to do so was because her breakdown showed that she was a human being, not a robot, after all. The moment she was vulnerable, the public went right for her jugular–almost as if we’d been programmed that way. Maybe the real robots were us all along.

My other favorite part of the video is when Britney walks away from cop, spinning his handcuffs in one hand. She’s got hot-pink streaks in her hair and shoes that double as attack dogs. She’s wearing the smile of a woman who’s beaten a system that’s determined to pull her over. For the moment, she steps away free.

Shooting Britney (The Atlantic)

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  1. ack, i didn’t mean to like my own post and now i can’t figure out how to undo it! how gauche.

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