Not having cable or actually giving a damn about MTV, I watched Britney Spears’ performance online. I’ve never really followed her career, but that hasn’t dulled my awareness of it. From cuddly, thick nymphet through cut, domineering lesbian chic, Britney has delivered, and a grateful press and fan base has eaten it up. Yet hearing the reviews of her comeback, I imagined a curvy version of Shamu in sequins.
That’s why I was puzzled after seeing the video. She certainly isn’t up to her old standards as far as dancing, or actually walking at times. I want discuss the lip-syncing other than to say I’ve seen similarly bad ADR in major movies. But it’s the criticism of her looks I find most disturbing and most telling.
This nation (among others) is hyper-obsessed with the super-chiseled ideal. As trends go, I honestly thought the notion of the muscular stick would go away. But the marketeers refuse to allow it. Not even a nuanced version of the word fat can be applied to Spears. Yet, one article said she looked “embarrassingly out of shape”. Perhaps it was embarrassing. But it’s people’s expectations that are out of shape.
Every abusive experience in Spears’ life predicated her poor performance at the MTV awards. If she had succeeded, those same experiences would still be responsible. In essence, Britney may have asked for the tabloid smackdown she’s receiving. But what tumultuous abuse empowers the rest of society to equate a woman’s self-worth with her Body Mass Index?