After watching Britney Spears’ latest videos:
Can we agree that she’s not as interesting a video persona when she’s ripping off Madonna as when she was trying really hard to be recreate every. little. thing. great about Janet Jackson’s video persona:
I mean, right?
In truth, I didn’t much care for Britney Spears when she was stealing from Janet so boldly, but at least it played to the one skill she has – performing. She also seemed to really enjoy it. She’s downright, genuinely beguiling in “Slave 4 U”, which though derivative in the extreme, is still the finest work she has yet done.
But as a next generation Madonna, she’s simply out of her league. She frankly lacks Madonna’s keen awarness of all the things that give her power in a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy – white beauty standards (blonde hair and all) and white womanhood (with all its attendant parts, “purity,” its need to be protected and free from taint, it’s allure as a result of being venerated, etc) – and what any of that even means.
If anything, her last couple of videos are a stunning depiction of just how unself-aware Britney Spears truly is. She’s not inverting her blonde ambition and she doesn’t seem to want her videos to communicate anything ironic, thoughtful, or interesting the way Madonna often does. There is nothing in these videos. She’s just not present.
But ironically, I do think she’s become the thing that people often (incorrectly) thought Madonna was – contemptuous of her fans. People love Britney reflexively and, if she knows anything at all, she knows that. And so she sleep walks her way through this phase of her career in a way that feels like obligation rather than passion without any fear that her laziness will jeopardize her status as an icon.
In other words, I think her heart isn’t in it. And it really shows.