Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fluffwatch: Britney Spears

One of the good things about allowing my blog posting to become so infrequent is that the few regular readers I had have now all but disappeared. This might not seem like a good thing at first, but it does afford me the freedom to ignore some of the more important events that have been making the news in order to concentrate on ones that may be more trivial, but have still managed to catch my eye. If nobody's reading, nobody can sneer at your topics of choice, right? Thank Christ I don't have to put up with the trolls on CiF, who delight in being the first to comment "Does the Guardian really pay you to write this drivel? It pains me to read stuff like this when there's a war going on" and bla bla bla. Get over yourselves! Sometimes it can be therapeutic to write (and read) about fluffy topics... like Britney Spears.

After so much hoo-ha over her big comeback performance at last week's VMAs, and especially after reading Perez Hilton's vitriolic attack, I tracked down a video of the number on YouTube. My first thought was "it's not that bad". A little lacklustre, perhaps, but she still had all the moves. However (and you can tell I had free time on my hands yesterday evening), the clip is a lot more telling if you look at some of Britney's VMA dance routines from years gone by first. I was never a Britney fan per se (probably too old to form part of her target market), but looking at those early clips objectively, my god the girl can dance. We're talking uber-synchronised, ultra-choreographed, Broadway-style group dancing where every move is timed to perfection, and every facial expression is exaggerated to get the point across. She was brilliant at it.

Then I watched the VMAs performance, and it suddenly became clear. It's not that she wasn't dancing well. It's that she wasn't really into it. The moves were there, but there was no passion or energy in them. She knew the words, but she didn't seem interested in the song. Her face was pretty but her eyes were miles away. In other words, hers was the act of a 40-year-old stripper who's been working the same dive for the last 20 years and has given up trying. It's sad, actually. Like she had nothing left to give (ironic, considering the song she was performing was called "Gimme More").

Some days later it emerged (according to that bastion of hard-hitting news, thelondonpaper) that Britney's iffy performance at the MTV awards was in fact due to a handful of anti-depressants she had popped just prior to going onstage, to ease her jitters. Yikes. That must've been one hell of a handful. And if it's true, it rather adds to the rumours that Ms Spears was pushed to perform at the VMAs before she was really ready, presumably by greedy industry types hoping for a dusting of the old Britney gold.

Who'd be a pop star, eh? It takes someone like Britney, who had the world eating from the palm of her hand at 17 but is now somehow "washed up" at the ripe old age of 25, to bring home just how cynical and unforgiving an industry pop music has become. Was it always thus?


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