Bending Spoons with Britney Spears
Twenty ft away from me, Britney Spears is pantless. Her sculpted hair makes her seem like Marilyn Monroe on a date with DiMaggio, assuming they’ll Manhattan’s best pantless restaurant. She’s wearing a sweater that in all probability prices greater than my dad and mom’ home, and her white heels add 5 inches to her five-foot-four pantless body. Oh, and did I point out she’s pantless? She’s not wearing any pants.
This is a laborious element to ignore.
This is a laborious element to ignore as a result of the lads who’ve seen a pantless Britney belong to a extremely select fraternity: It is Justin Timberlake, her gynecologist, the photographer who’s doing this explicit picture shoot, and (possibly) the frontman for a third-rate rap-metal band from Jacksonville, Florida. That is kind of all people. And — maybe stupidly — I Actually thought I used to be about to hurry this semipathetic frat; I truthfully believed the explanation I used to be invited to this picture shoot was to glimpse Britney’s secret backyard and write about its cultural significance. In some way, that appeared like the one logical clarification as to why her bare ass was being unleashed on the quilt of this journal; this complete affair have to be an aggressive, self-conscious reinvention. I imply, why else would they’ve invited the author to the shoot? Why else would Spears have simply launched the “information” that she misplaced her virginity on the age of eighteen (a narrative that surfaced solely twenty-four hours earlier than this very picture session)? Is not this how the trendy media operates? Is not every thing wholly overt?
Britney’s womanhood is not going to be seen this afternoon, or a minimum of not seen by me. All her photos are in the end shot behind a fifteen-foot-high opaque partition, and nary a heterosexual man is allowed behind it. Apparently, the explanation I’m right here is to be reminded that the essence of Britney Spears’s rawest sexuality is one thing I’ll by no means see, though I do know it is there. Culturally, there may be nothing extra trenchant than the truth that Britney Spears won’t ever give it up, though she already has.
Over the following ninety minutes, I’ll sit subsequent to a purportedly absolutely clothed Britney and ask her questions. She is not going to actually reply any of them. Interviewing Britney Spears is like deposing Invoice Clinton: Whatever the proof, she doesn’t waver. “Why do you costume so provocatively?” I ask. She says she does not costume provocatively. “However look what you are wearing proper now,” I say, whereas taking a look at three inches of her interior thigh, her total stomach, and sufficient cleavage to choke a musk ox. “That is only a skirt and a prime,” she responds. It isn’t that Britney Spears denies that she is a sexual icon, or that she disputes that American males are fascinated with the idea of the wet-hot virgin, or that she feels her success says nothing about what our society fantasizes about. She does not disagree with any of that stuff, as a result of she swears she has by no means even thought of it. Not even as soon as.
“That is only a bizarre query,” she says. “I do not even need to take into consideration that. That is unusual, and I do not take into consideration issues like that, and I do not need to take into consideration issues like that. Why ought to I? I haven’t got to take care of these folks. I am involved with the youngsters on the market. I am involved with the following technology of individuals. I am not fearful about some man who’s a perv and desires to satisfy a freaking virgin.”
And all of a sudden, one thing turns into painfully clear: Both Britney Spears is the least self-aware individual I’ve ever met, or she’s method, method savvier than any of us understand.
Or possibly each.
In contrast with the depletion of the ozone layer or the political way forward for Arnold Schwarzenegger, I concede that the existence of Britney Spears is light-years past trivial. However if you happen to’re remotely within the cylinders that drive popular culture, it is laborious to overestimate her significance. She is just not a lot an individual as she is an thought, and the concept is that this: You’ll be able to need every thing, as long as you get nothing. Clearly, Britney is the naughtiest good woman of all time. However what makes her so totally different from earlier incarnations of jailbait purity — Tiffany, Brooke Shields, Annette Funicello, et al. — is her full unwillingness to acknowledge that this paradox exists in any respect.
Working example: On the day of our interview, Britney was photographed for this journal wearing solely panties and jewellery, and she or he pulled down the elastic of her underwear together with her thumbs. If she had pulled two inches extra, Esquire would have turn into Hustler. However that actuality doesn’t have an effect on her actuality, which is that these photos don’t have anything to do with intercourse.
Britney: Have not you ever seen girls on journal covers earlier than? Did you see the J. Lo cowl? She was wearing a bikini. Did you see the Cameron Diaz cowl?
Me: Sure, I did. And why do you assume these girls did these picture shoots?
Britney: As a result of it is the freaking cowl of Esquire journal! Why not? You get to look stunning. It isn’t that deep.
Me: So why do you assume the journal places girls like that on its cowl?
Britney: I do not know. Perhaps as a result of these persons are fairly and interesting, and so they work their asses off, and so they imagine in themselves.
Me: Do you truthfully imagine that?
Britney: Properly, some folks may say it is simply to earn cash and promote magazines. However another excuse — a greater purpose, and the one I select — is that they do it to encourage folks.
Britney is sort of just like the little child who freaks out Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. You say you need to bend a spoon? Properly, the very first thing it is advisable understand is that there is no such thing as a spoon.
Seen retrospectively, there isn’t any doubt that the romance between Justin Timberlake and Britney helped Timberlake’s profession greater than hers — especially since Spears all the time insisted she was a virgin, even after they purchased a house collectively. Optimistic thirteen-year-old girls may think about Justin as the final word gentleman, completely content to maintain his paws to himself whereas the foxiest woman on the planet sat round the home in her underwear, sucking on Popsicles and telling him to attend till she was prepared. They have been, in a way, Virgin Royalty: superrich, über-clean pop stars who epitomized simply how great teenaged Individuals may nonetheless be.
For this reason it was so jarring to listen to Fred Durst graphically discussing his alleged sexual dalliances with Spears on The Howard Stern Present in February. Her encounter with the Limp Bizkit frontman — no matter whether or not it is true — publicly cemented Spears’s fall from grace; Durst is universally perceived as rock’s sleaziest joke.
“That was my fault for hanging out with folks like that,” she says of Durst. “Fred was a really nice man. He was a pleasant man. And on the time he was making an attempt to return on to me, I wasn’t in the fitting mind set to have a relationship with anyone. So possibly I did harm his ego, and [going on the radio] was his method of coping with that. However I realized my lesson. And on the time, I used to be type of confused, as a result of my tour had simply ended. Me and my girlfriends went out one night time, and I used to be feeling like a free hen. However I actually do not need to speak about this.”
I don’t know what these last few statements are purported to imply; both she clearly slept with him, or she clearly did not. The chances are fifty-fifty. And This is a steadiness Britney both a) consciously strives to maintain, or b) sustains with out even making an attempt. Cliché as it could sound, she is really all issues to all folks: A twelve-year-old woman thinks she’s a hero; that woman’s older brother thinks she’s a porn star; that older brother’s girlfriend thinks she’s an instance of why girls hate themselves; that girlfriend’s father secretly needs his personal twelve-year-old daughter would invite Britney over for a slumber occasion. So long as she by no means dictates her character — so long as Spears by no means overtly says, “That is who I’m” — everybody will get to inject his personal which means. Subconsciously, all of us get to rebrand Britney Spears.
“The general public is aware of when somebody is being trustworthy,” she says. “The folks know what’s actual. This may be a bizarre analogy, nevertheless it’s like watching Associates. You simply get what these persons are speaking about. It is humorous to you, and also you’re drawn to them.”
On the floor, this assertion is insane. It could appear that anybody who watches Associates would by no means argue that it is profitable due to its “honesty,” nor would it not appear as if its characters have conversations that mirror any type of tangible normalcy. However each single week, twenty million folks watch Associates. They see one thing in Chandler Bing and Phoebe Buffay that makes them comfortable. And what these twenty million folks see is one thing that Britney sees — and maybe Britney understands — in a method that almost all of us don’t.
“Had I not gone into music,” she tells me, “I in all probability would have gone to varsity and turn into a schoolteacher. That was my dream, as a result of I like youngsters. Both that, or an leisure lawyer.” For a second, I feel This is a joke. However it’s not a joke. However it’s good. Schoolteacher, leisure lawyer, pop star, African warlord — what is the fucking distinction? “I am well-known,” she concedes, “however I am not well-known like freaking Brad Pitt or Jennifer Aniston. However in my bizarre little head, I simply assume we’re all right here to encourage one another. We’re all equal. We simply bounce off one another and present the world what we will do.”
Logic would counsel that Spears’s upcoming fourth album shall be a reinvention, and that she’s going to attempt to entice a extra mature viewers (a lot the way in which Christina Aguilera did together with her album Stripped and her freshly conceived Gothic-hooker persona). Britney says nay.
“Actually, the document label wished me to do sure sorts of songs, and I used to be like, ‘Look, if you would like me to be some type of intercourse factor, that is not me.’ I’ll by no means try this. I am nonetheless doing what I like to do.”
In order that settles it. Do not be fooled by the images that accompany this story, true believers: Britney Spears is just not going to turn into some type of intercourse factor. She continues to be the individual you need to think about. She all the time shall be. And he or she is making that call; you aren’t.
“I used to be simply speaking about sexuality with my make-up artist,” she tells me. “And I used to be explaining to her that once I was 13 years outdated, I used to stroll round my home utterly bare. And my dad would say, ‘Britney, put some garments on, now we have folks over.’ My household simply all the time walked round the home bare. We have been earthy folks. I’ve by no means been ashamed of my physique. We have been very free folks.”
Sure. Very free. And I am positive this has no freaking significance in anyway.
Chuck Klosterman is the creator of many high quality books, together with Chuck Klosterman IV.
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