‘Bout time I did Britney.
Look at Britney. Older, wiser. But still totally bangin’. She didn’t write this song. But that’s, actually, just another part of the construction. They practically trumpet from the rooftops the team that wrote it, including Kesha, the consummate party animal. The idea being that Britney might otherwise have never come up with something like this.
Pop music’s always been a construction, though it’s rarely this blatant, billing the name of the director of the music video right in the beginning. There is just no other way that music appealing to such a broad of a group of people could be created. It has to cut through racial, class, language, age, cultural barriers, even within its own country, its own direct audience.
One person, even a band, can’t keep track of all that. Not even Britney. Especially not Britney. Britney’s the icon. Religion hasn’t evolved much since the Greeks, our gods are people. The Greek pantheon was the creation of scores of poets who all contributed a bit to the myth and legend. And when somebody in ancient Greece displayed exceptional talents, he was elevated by these poets to the status of demi-gods. They were the original pop stars.
Britney’s immensely talented, sure. And she’s more than capable of writing her own music. It’s just that her real job is to act as the mirror for society. A mirror that shows us a cleaner, more attractive version of ourselves. Constructing that mirror takes an army.
She didn’t accept this role, this burden, because of all the money that’s involved, or all the fame. She could have done what scads of pop stars did before her after they fell out of the sky. Faded into the background, do things smarter, smooth it all out. Produce other artists, get huge behind the scenes. Become mortal again.
She had that choice. She didn’t do it because this is who she is. She must have had that moment, with all of her advisers around her telling her she should sit back, take a breather, let other girls take the torch, where she said, “no, I want to keep doing this.” And realize what a difficult task it will be, rebuilding her image after her very public fall from grace.
How did she do it? She evolved. Look at all her earlier music, whoring herself out. “Hit me baby”? “You’re toxic”? Britney always gave it away. Not anymore. With Femme Fatale, Britney finally knows what she’s worth. She’s “hotter than the remix.”
Pop stars trade in sex. Even when it’s not about sex, it’s still about sex. They can’t avoid it. We humans can’t stop thinking about it, so our idols, our mirrors, have to reflect it. The best the stars and myth-makers can do is channel it. She ain’t no spring chicken anymore, and she knows it. So she projects a different kind of sexy.
I’ve talked about the aspirational themes to pop. This song is no different. There’s two main lessons to this video. The first has to do with calamity. The world is ending, but everybody’s dancing and being sexy. “Keep on dancing til the world ends.” It’s a metaphor that applies not just to the masses, but also to her own life.
It’s a scary time. The media loves doom and gloom, and our politicians and capital holders are doing their damndest best to help it along. Pop needs to keep the masses placated and purchasing, its job is to make even the worst look good. It might be the end of the world, but look at all these sexy people.
That’s the main lesson. Relax, take it day by day. The second lesson, of course, has to do with sex. Britney’s telling you how to get with her. And since she’s a mirror, to all the women who aspire to be her. It’s a well-worn trope that those at the top are lonely. It’s the truth, even for pop stars. It’s also typically true for those women who are star-like.
Stars evoke powerful reactions from people. Their very persona has been crafted around attracting attention, and these things get in the way of the ordinary courtship rituals. They’re glittery, glamorous, and everything they do is scrutinized. It’s the same for women who are star-like, but aren’t on screen. Ask the most beautiful woman you know how many times guys have fallen hard in love with them with just so much as a look.
So they have to make do with endless one night stands, or they get in codependent relationships where they’re often mistreated.
Britney offers clues on how to go about getting the attention of a star, and to get them to focus that bright light on you. First off, “spit it out.” A star knows intimately what the effects of just a slightest bit of their attention will cause, because they’ve spent a long time honing that skill. If you think she might be interested, she probably is. She knows exactly what she’s doing, she planted that idea in your head. “I notice that you got it, you notice that I want it.”
If you want it, you have to speak up. Britney is no Lady Gaga, she’s no Kesha. You’re not going to get her drunk, and she’s not going to approach you. (an interviewer for Lady Gaga saw her ask a guy with serious intention if he was straight. He wasn’t, and boy did she look bummed.)
You have to be at the top of your game. Create some magic. It’s not really that hard, you just have to be different. Remember, it’s lonely at the top. Get her believing in you and she’ll take it from there. You know she can “take it to the next level.” Stars live in a different world. You don’t need to be rich, she’s already rich, and the girls she’s mirroring are also similarly rich, though not necessarily in cash money.
So just get her looking at you. By enticing her to focus her intense
light on you, you get briefly elevated to god-hood. Like going out
with the hottest girl in school. Now you get invited to all the hip
parties, you can play on that larger stage. That’s what girls like
And who wouldn’t want a night of passion with a modern demigod?