It may not be cool to say it, but its true: I still love Britney. Granted, every syllable out of her mouth is grist for the gossip mill. Yes, every move she makes becomes cover fodder for Star or Us Weekly. Sure, a demonic doll runs her car off the road in Seed of Chucky. And, OK, her taste in men is questionable at best. She even won a recent Out.com poll asking, Who Are You Most Sick of Hearing About? But say what you will, Britney is a Madonna for the 00s.
Now before all you pop purists freak out and call me a traitor, pointing out how Madonna is unquestionably more talented, smarter, and all in all a better human being, hear me out. When the former Mouseketeer released her debut album, Baby One More Time, back in 1999, people scoffed that it would be the last wed hear of the pop tart, that she wasnt legitimately talented, that she was pushing peoples buttons with her scanty wardrobe. Wow. It all sounds mighty familiar. A gazillion sales later, Britney is still with us, making covers of magazines just for being Britneyand for making a few interesting life choices.
Four albums into her career, Brit released a Greatest Hits CD in November. People crack, Shes 22! How can she have a greatest hits CD? Laugh it up, but Madonna had released only four complete albums (not counting soundtracks to which she contributed) when she released her first greatest hits disc, The Immaculate Collection.
And the girl makes great music. Out of the box with Baby One More Time, she captured the imagination of young girls (and gay boys) everywhere. She even inspired an indie film, Britney, Baby, One More Time, about a drag queen who longs to meet the demi-diva. This year, Spears had her Vogue (easily Madonnas most innovative single) with Toxic, which Out and Village Voice columnist Michael Musto called the best song of the last 140 years.
She may have pissed some people off, vaguely supporting George W. Bush in Fahrenheit 9/11 (Honestly, I think that we should just trust our president and every decision he makes), but Madonna has always been outspoken about her political beliefs too (remember when she wrapped herself in that American flag and told people to vote?). OK, so Britney was praising a jerk. But its Britney, for Petes sake. You just cant stay mad at her for long.
Its easy to talk about how much Madonna embraced her gay fans because, well, she did. But Madonna grew up around gay men (including her brother Christopher) and was a sassy single girl living in New York City, going to dance school, and partying at clubs in the 80s. Britney (who has performed at some gay clubs) was raised in the conservative South. You can hardly blame her for being a little late to the gay-is-good bandwagon.
People take potshots at Brit for her nanosecond marriage to old friend Jason Alexander (not the Seinfeld star), her flings with Colin Farrell and Fred Durst, her relationship and sensational breakup with Justin Timberlake, and, most recently, her entanglementI cant think of a better wordwith dancer and latest husband Kevin Federline. But until recently, has Madonna fared any better at love? I mean, really, Maddys ups and downs with Sean Penn were as ubiquitous in the tabloids as the Spears and Timberlake affair. And Brits dabblings with Fred Durst are certainly no more embarrassing than Madonnas with Vanilla Ice (Durst being infinitely more talented). And who can blame a girl for hooking up with Colin Farrell? Its a lot like Madonna living out the fantasies of every middle-aged woman (and some men) by dating playboy Warren Beatty. Granted, Brit pulled the quickie wedding trick, which (unknown to her, Im sure) is a slap in the face to every committed gay couple in America who cant get married. But cmon, hets get unwisely married and divorced in Vegas all the time. Heck, even Ross and Rachel got hitched in a drunken quickie marriage on Friends. It can happen to the best of us.
At the very least, Kevin is, for the moment, making Britney happy. And thats good enough for me.
Whats so brilliant about Madonna is that she saw it all before we did. We thought Maddy was playing with us when she wore a T-shirt emblazoned with Brits name at her 2000 Roseland Ballroom concert in New York City. Little did we know that (as usual) the Material Girl was way ahead of us all. Maddy and Brits confluence (the smooch at the VMAs, dueting on Me Against the Music, and kabbalah) only furthers the point: They are cut from the same cloth, a couple of decades apart.
I can only imagine what the future might bring as Spears continues to reinvent herself. Will she persevere with her burgeoning film career (say what you will, I own Crossroads on DVD)? Id suggest that she do her own take on the Sex book, but since Paris Hilton beat her to the punchon video, no lessI doubt theres anything left for Britney to explore in that particular arena. Madonna helped bring S/M to the masses, so maybe its time for the Britster to don a leather catsuit and whip some slaves into shape. Just a thought. And I can only hope that one day she finally settles down with a nice Guyer, guy.
So scoff all you like. Britney is here to stay. And I, for one, am glad.