This week has sucked for losing some female icons. It’s a tragic loss to the world to lose Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, their talent and lives affected and inspired so many and the world mourns the loss of idols. For my last post of the year, I would like to dedicate it to one of my personal idols. She may not be a typical feminist hero but she’s this feminist’s hero, Ms. Britney Spears. So widely contrasting to most my music interests, when I confess my love of the pop star I am met with looks equal to what I would expect to receive if I just said I murdered someone’s cat. Cat murderer I am not, Britney lover I am.
Maybe it’s over-exposure to MTV as a kid, when the channel would have regular days and weekends dedicated to the star, brainwashed me into a Britney obsessive state. A now semi-ironic yet fully dedicated admiration has followed me throughout my life. One of my favourite hobbies is watching interviews with Britney and observing the difference over the years.
When I feel a little blue I throw on the greatest hits and go out for a walk, strutting like I’m walking down the ramp of the 2001 VMA stage (imaginary snake included), and whenever I’m feeling a little lacklustre about working out – I just throw some early noughties Britney performances as inspo and am planking faster than I can say ‘Oops I did it again.”
I could talk about Britney till the cows come home, then sing ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ with the cows. I always think of Marilyn Monroe as the first movie superstar of the tabloid generation, Madonna the first popstar and I consider Spears as the first pop superstar, definitely of my lifetime. Coming out of the MTV generation, Spears was propelled to fame not only as a popstar but as a product and the world wanted to buy in. As anyone who was of talking age mid-90’s knows, she was everywhere – literally everywhere. On Pepsi cans, Billboards, there were life size cut outs of her in every shoe shop and every magazine cover became an ode to the singer. 10 years her junior, watching her as a kid was awe-inspiring. It was incredible to see someone relatively close to our age have this amazing stage presence, super cool dances moves and incredible music videos with extremely catchy songs. Looking back on it now what was the incredible thing, was in fact how young she actually was. If you look at the hyper sexualisation she was succumbed to, it’s no surprise that it is still what she capitalises on. So many magazine stories fetishised her innocent demeanour and were fascinated by her sex life, to the extent that I hope it wouldn’t be allowed to ask a 17 year old such prying and ridiculous questions in this day and age.
Britney became a high in demand commodity and since she is a person not a product, a crack in the commercial machine was inevitable. The media acted like we were owed something and denied her right to privacy and freedom. They used her breakdown as some sort of witch hunt, taunting and stalking her so viciously it seemed like they wouldn’t stop until she proceeded a faith tragically similar to her predecessors like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. As someone who would list Britney Spears as one of my hobbies, I have seen so many videos of her just trying to walk out of a restaurant holding her child, swarmed by what must be over 50 photographers. One time they get too close to her and she stumbled over one of them, tripping and nearly dropping her son. What was reported in the newspaper was not that these people were practically assaulting her but that she was a bad mother. It seemed like she was having a tough time but the paparazzi were relentless in making it worse. In 2008, she was hounded to the extent that the Associative Press Organisation was given the instruction that “For now and the foreseeable future everything involving Britney is a big deal”. The media wanted their star, they wanted the blonde, skinny, clean pop star that they fought to scratch the innocence from and then reviled her when it was gone.
When it seemed Britney was bound to being backed into an inevitable downward spiral, she overcame the scrutiny and invasion of the world and persevered to get her act and happiness back. In some documentaries she mentions her difficulties she’s faced with her mental health and watching more modern interviews she could be described as somewhat anxious (understandably so considering she spent half her life having to answer half-witted, nonsensical questions from intruding journalists). I hope eventually she talks about these things further as I think it is inspiring for a lot of people. She went through her own mid-twenties crisis, entailing not only the pressure of having two kids and a divorce, but she had the pressure of being the pop princess she was being held liable for. That’s a lot of pressure. Anyone’s nerves would be shot to shit in the face of that.I am in constant “leave Britney alone” mode and am glad the need to express this phrase has faded into a more communal cheer of “Yas Britney”. The aloof and disconnected shadow has been shaken off and she’s just as fierce as she was when low-rise jeans and blue eye shadow were all the rage. Overall she seems much happier and it comes across when she’s onstage.I recall her also addressing the reason she doesn’t sing live all the time is out of fear, because she’s been so heavily criticised for her voice in the past, taking a very “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” perspective. Regardless, she still puts on a damn good show with live vocals performed intermittently.
Her father still acts as conservator over her money but one thing she definitely manages herself is her Instagram. Unlike her celebrity peers she posts motivational quotes and cute/pure random pictures that are reminiscent to a quirky suburban mom’s Facebook posts. While the likes of Beyonce and Katy Perry have perfectly engineered poses in front of exotic landscapes, Spears has pictures of random bushes she’s seen out hiking, half-eaten bread baskets taken in poor lighting and googled pictures of corn, she’s screenshotted and uploaded to Instagram.This combined with incredible workout/dance clips and family pictures make it the best thing ever.
Anyone that throws shade at the Britster should get it thrown back in their face, because she’s awesome and most definitely a trooper. No one can deny her longevity in a very temperamental business or her status as a pop-culture legend and she seems like a pretty normal and cool chick, all things considered. She seems to have developed a low bullshit tolerance and made it out the other side of some pretty tough times and kept going, that’s pretty badass. And for that reason, along with hundreds of others (as mentioned I could talk about Britney all day), I am proud of being a Britney buff. My childhood fascination continues to mature and the lady isn’t giving any reasons for it to stop. I saw Britney once in 2003 and hope to see her later this New Year if I go to Vegas but I have to take her advice and ‘Work Bitch’ first.
On that note I’d like to wish everyone a happy and magical new year and Spears-size successes for 2017.
Author: Shaunna Lee Lynch
About: I am an Irish writer, performer, avid day dreamer, generally enthusiastic, hip hop enthusiast.
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