I have just finished watching Britney Spears’ much-talked-about comeback performance at the MTV Video Music Awards this week. I don’t usually go in for that sort of gaudy thing. But in this case, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. The New York Post seemed to suggest it was the most disastrous pop performance ever staged, and even resorted to scatology to describe the fallen pop stars’ dance moves. If even the eggheads at Slate are writing about how awful and lugubrious Britney’s dancing was, I figured there had to be something of interest going on here.
So I watched the video, and honestly I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Yes, the lip-syncinig was off, and the dancing was pretty lackluster. But nothing I saw justified the orgy of Britney-bashing that has appeared in the press. The woman has made a total train-wreck of her personal life in the last few years, and this seems like just a case of people piling on.
If anything, in fact, the real scandal here is that the sort of smut contained in her dance performance is now so common as to be essentially ignored by the same culture critics who have raked Britney over the coals for being a bad dancer and lip-syncer. If you watch the video, you can see a bikini-and-boot-clad Britney gyrate half-heartedly through a variety of sleazy soft-porn dance moves and assorted body rubbings with various men and women. Her outfit itself looks like something a pole-dancer would collect 5-dollar-bills in. And the song itself (”Gimme more”) was sexually suggestive in the vulgar, unimaginitive way that no one even notices any more.
And that’s really what I took away from this awful three minutes. Yes, Britney cuts a rather sad figure these days. But sadder still is a media culture that takes commoditized sleaze so much for granted that no one even bothers to comment on it when it appears on their TV screens as part of an “awards” ceremony hosted by the preeminent icon in teen TV entertainment.
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