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Britney Spears is a pop star permanently stuck in another era

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The MTV Music Video Awards are a venue where artists go to sin or to be redeemed. Justin Bieber began his unofficial, since-abandoned Apology Tour with a teary VMAs performance last year; in 2013, Miley Cyrus twerked her way into infamy. It was on the VMAs in 2001 that Britney Spears performed “I’m a Slave 4 U” dressed in an instantly iconic seven-foot-long albino Burmese python. (The snake is still alive, according to MTV.com, which checked. Her name is Banana.) It was during this performance that Spears came into her own, a moment of liberation and self-expression in a career that has since offered her very little of either. 

At the 2007 VMAs, during the year of her difficulties, Spears lip-synced through a listless version of “Gimme More.” She hadn’t performed live at the VMAs since, until Sunday night. She spent the intervening years under a continuing court-ordered conservatorship that gives control of her life and career to her father, after a public breakdown in 2007. She now has her own Vegas residency.

Spears’s performance in Madison Square Garden on Sunday night was supposed to be redemptive, a high-risk/high-reward gamble (typical pre-show headline: “Britney Spears to stage comeback at site of her most public failure”) that mostly went bust.

It wasn’t awful — she seemed competent and aware, and to hit every mark — it was just . . . wrong. Awkward. Dutiful. Old-fashioned. It was as if the 34-year-old Spears’s understanding of pop showmanship ended sometime in 2005, which maybe it did, and no one had told her. Spears performed her new single, the likable trifle “Make Me . . . ,” with polite Bay Area rapper G-Eazy, who appears on the record. He may have been chosen because he was unlikely to either upstage or terrify her, though he touched her face at one point and she flinched and shook her head.

It was a Vegas-y exercise. Spears played supplicant, backup showgirl to G-Eazy, whom she climbed like a pole. That she performed immediately after Beyoncé delivered a world-beating ode to female power that ended with the stage literally set on fire hardly seemed fair.

Because Spears’s life is so closely guarded, her albums and rare televised live performances are fans’ only opportunities to read between the lines, to determine just how much of Britney Spears is left. It was a weekend of mixed messages: At the VMAs, she was a skittish show pony; on “Glory” she’s a cheery, voracious woman in charge. But pop albums are the last place anybody should look for the truth. There are moments on “Glory” that are calculated to seem franker than other moments, but it’s as impersonal as ever. Britney Spears is never going to make “Lemonade.” She’s not even going to make a Gwen Stefani-style confessional about whatever version of Blake Shelton (or whatever version of G-Eazy, more likely) she eventually winds up with. Everything you hear, and everything you see, may be everything there is, everything she’s capable of giving. 

The more we come to expect albums from pop divas to serve as vehicles for their self-actualization and empowerment, the more “woke” we get, the more we don’t know what to do about Britney, the least empowered pop star there is. By cheerleading a comeback that may or may not be entirely her wish, by someone who does not even meet the basic legal standard of personal agency, it’s unclear whether we are hurting or helping. Even by the lenient standards of pop stardom, there’s always been a cotton candy-like vagueness where Britney’s center should be, an alarming compliancy. A comeback seems impossible, when she’s never really been here at all.


i highlighted things i thought y'all should see. i agree with some of the things said in here like she kind of is stuck in a different year as far as performances go. That last sentence though is completely ridiculous.

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9 minutes ago, Chico101 said:

If there's one thing I've learnt about how Britney is treated is that the world isn't fair. People like Beyonce make me have little faith in human beings.

So true,  Im just over this kind of people,  they show the worst in human nature,  pure irrational hatred wich they try to justify. 

I don't give a **** about them, I care about Godney not about those ********. 

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WOW so sad... i hope britney did not read these, so sad how people can talk about a person like Britney, she dont deserve this tbh, i hope she retire soon and have a normal life with her kids.:sobbing:

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3 minutes ago, Alejo. said:

I see no lies, she and her team are just beyond basic at this point.

She should have re done the Circus' TOMH performance with Make Me and would have slayed :otears:

thats what i literally imagined in my VMA fantasies before she went on. it would be perfect with the song 

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The performance was not wrong, awkward or dutiful... it was good! Wow so much hate!! 

This is the era when finally we can see Britney alive and enjoy her life, her music, and i can't with some of you to be agree with this bullshit about brit!

And the saddest part is you and other "fans" share only the negativity


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This is just mean. Britney makes fun music- that is what she does. It doesnt mean she has no agency or deeper truth. She just chooses not to share that with the world and tbh after what they did to her, i dont blame her at all. She is not un-empowered because she chooses not to talk about her past struggles. If she is making music because she wants to despite everything that shows power and bravery.


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