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MM Video Debacle: Making sense of my reaction, and the contribution of Britney and her team


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I’ve never posted here before, but I’m a long time Britney fan.

Like a lot of fans I’ve had a reaction to the Make Me video and Glory cover art. I’ve felt mostly disappointment about both of these, but I’m now actively trying to get over my disappointment and instead attempt to understand: my own reaction, as well as how and why Britney and her team have contributed to the final outcome. I’ll share my ideas and I’m interested in your thoughts about this stuff too.

My reaction:

I guess for me this situation has brought into conflict two reasons that I love Britney Spears. The two reasons are:

1)      I love following Britney’s career, seeing and enjoying her success because – she’s the underdog. Every aspect of her talent, even who she is as a person – is easily criticised by the general public. Her singing ability, her articulation in interviews, in recent years her dancing etc. I continue to be pretty riveted by her... but when it feels like the public want to feast on her downfall... seeing her riding high at #1 is elating. It justifies the talent I see in her.. maybe for all of us who have received criticism in our own lives – it validates us and motivates us to do better, no matter what people say. Well... how does this relate to the MM video? I’ll be honest... the original looked ******* amazing. I think it had the potential to be toxic iconic. I saw the potential for her to succeed with this – and when such a huge opportunity is missed – it’s super disappointing! After the mediocre success of BJ, I think all of us wanted to see Britney really slaying this era – and the original MM video could have been a vehicle for that.

2)      In this situation, my want for her to succeed is in conflict with another reason I love Britney – her vulnerability. These days, she strikes me as someone who is very anxious and I kind of like that. I don’t mind that her interviews aren’t great. I don’t mind that she finds performing difficult at times. I find her interesting because she has built a career around being extroverted, exposed, ****** – but that she has grown into an incredibly vulnerable woman who finds it difficult to play out those roles in the public eye. I think there are a great many people out there who drag themselves to work every day to do something that they don’t necessarily love – it’s kind of normal. Seeing Britney do the same with aspects of her work is inspiring. But I think that what comes with playing in territory that she is not completely comfortable with is uncertainty about her boundaries – she’s has a history of not being sure where her limits are. In a Barbara Walters interview she will admit that her Rolling Stones pictures were “too much.” She’ll film Work ***** then have it cut back. She’ll film MM and then have the whole thing completely reshot. She feels her way, makes mistakes, second guesses herself – and I love that. But I do feel these tendencies are partly responsible for the MM video debacle... and I guess that’s what I mean when I say I’m in conflict – something that I appreciate in her has contributed to an outcome that also disappoints me.

Her team:
My final point is about how her team approach working with collaborators – directors, producers, photographers etc – because I do think that the way in which her management collaborate with these other artists contributed to the outcome too. Whilst we have Britney not always sure of how comfortable she is with expressing her sexuality – her management just want her to be happy and to make money. When it comes to the final product they’re selling, Brit’s team don’t always know what will work and what won’t-  but one thing is clear – management get the final say on what get’s released. Her team are quite happy to embark on creative endeavours with artists who are well-known, sought after, BUSY people. People who want to engage in work that they are passionate about and people who want their work and ideas respected. People who have agreed to work with Britney under the proviso that their ideas have been greenlit. They get involved expecting to bring these ideas to life– as opposed to going through a process of negotiating heavy compromises to get a finished product. That process has taken place with 3 singles in a row – Work *****, Perfume, and MM all got chopped up. One has to feel for Joseph Kahn who pitched an amazing idea for the Perfume video – committed to the project – and wound up with a sub-standard lacklustre video to his name. I don’t blame David LaChapelle for moving to avoid ending up in the same boat. It’s as if her team feel that – “she’s Britney, these directors should compromise no matter what, they’re lucky to have the job.” I think David has sent them an important message in forcing them to reshoot – “if you don’t like my ideas, don’t use them.”

 Will they hear the message? Well.. from the amount of “hungry hungry hungry producers” they are after I’m not sure (Aus radio interview reference there). Yeah you might get a new sound or new look working with up-and-comers – but Britney’s team also have a lot more power when it comes to working with younger artists – and I think that’s just how they like it. I hope that they will learn from this situation and recognise – it’s bad for other artists, it’s bad for fans, and it’s bad for Britney – to employ creative people to bring a vision to life and then ask them to make massive compromises. It’s certainly become a pattern for her team and hopefully they will reflect and learn from the process of the MM video.

Thoughts on any of the above would be appreciated J

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