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Britney Still Breathes
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Forty-Three
by Brian S. Wise
2 December 2003Britney

On the occasion of her 22nd birthday, it helps to remember Britney Spears is overrated and overpromoted...but at least writing about her has saved my career for three more days.

Listen, you people have been good to me over the years, so I’ll be honest with you: I don’t want to write anymore.  Haven’t since the first of August.  Unfortunately, I tend to act on my impulses without considering my commitments; fortunately, my indifference and long strings of inactivity have flown under enough radars and hardly anyone has noticed.  What separates opinion columnists is creativity; within the first few years of a column, the author has addressed the defining issues of his time in as unique a voice as possible – from there he either takes creative steps to keep the product from getting stale or he digresses into spending time writing for the simple sake of sitting behind the desk.

It occurs to me that gossip columnists are blessed, if not in talent than as a workforce.  America is willing to offer fame for just about anything; for the tens of millions captivated by celebrity, the smallest nugget of information, no matter how banal, is consumed and appreciated; therefore gossip columnists (who, let’s face it, don’t cover important things) are living the good life.  The thought is strengthened by an issue of People magazine, dated November twenty-fourth, for some reason sitting in this office.  Amber Frey (ex-lover of wife-and-baby killer Scott Peterson) owns the cover, but just to the right of Frey’s picture is one of Britney Spears with the teaser: “Britney – What Really Turns Her On.”
A few things.  First, any magazine relying on celebrity for its sales that didn’t think enough of Art Carney’s death to make his the top story is a disgrace as a publication.  Second, the culture that happily allows Britney Spears twenty or thirty million dollars (or more) while very nearly passing over singers like Diana Krall and Cassandra Wilson gets exactly what it deserves, and for some reason I never tire of saying so.  Third, if Britney Spears weighed 200 pounds, she would never have been offered a record deal; her voice is substandard at best, an occasional insult at worst.  That is the basis from which this column originates.

But she IS blonde, 22, and looks just fine in a pair of brown leather pants (especially when holding herself, page 19); when vigorously promoted those things mean millions will care about what turns Britney Spears on.  Turns out it’s decent looking guys, carriage rides in the mountains (or whatever), being kissed on her neck and in respect to that being taken when being kissed.  Huh.  So it looks like she’s … a normal 22-year-old, in many respects.  The concern, of course, is that each of Britney’s albums has sold less than the last; in presenting herself as a normal sexual being she’s completely losing the pedophiles, who I’m convinced have been, along with the nation’s rotating and roving band of 12-year-old babysitters, driving her domestic record sales for all these years.  As for the overseas totals … well … they’ll buy anything blonde over there.  (Hey, but seriously, folks.)
In response to some general inquiries into the question of Britney and her utterances, someone wrote to ask why we care what excites a 22-year-old and not what excites a 50-year-old.  I begged to differ; walk through the self-help section of any bookstore (which, regrettably, I did in preparation for this column) and you’ll see it … books on sexual fulfillment (rather it concerns one’s lack of satisfaction or general frigidity) aren’t aimed at attractive 22-year-old blonde girls, if for no other reason because when push comes to shove they can get whatever they want, sexual or otherwise.  The problem isn’t that no one is interested in what excites a 50-year-old (I would imagine 50-year-olds have a vested interest in the subject), it’s that people outside the age don’t care enough for the matter to creep beyond either the bookstore or the midnight infomercial.

It was the late comedian Bill Hicks (Another Dead Hero) who most notably decried the passing of genius while mediocrity continues to thrive and prosper; how is it John Lennon died but Barry Manilow continues to release albums?  A cruel question for the fates; Britney Spears sold something like 600,000 copies of her new record in the first week of its release – there are artists, mammoth reserves of untapped talent, who will never sell a tenth of that, and we should be ashamed of ourselves for the misdeed.

But at least she kept my career from going down the toilet for three more days.  Thanks, kid.  And happy birthday.

Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.

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