For months, some of us have been defending Britney Spears to friends, neighbors, doormen... anyone who would listen, but even we were starting to question our position especially after the shit-show that was Sunday night's VMA's. Not any more. In today's Salon, writer Rebecca Traister shares our sad fury over the sleepwalking-like performance that Spears turned in:
This weekend was actually pretty hard to watch. A gross example of exactly how much malicious satisfaction we get out of the embarrassing weakness of an addictive, postpartum, out-of-control mess of a human being. But as sad as anything is that the young musician shows zero interest in making it stop.
Britney embodies the disdain in which this culture holds its young women: the desire to sexualize and spoil them while young, and to degrade and punish them as they get older. Of course, she also represents a youthful feminine willingness — stupid or manipulated as it may be — to conform to the culture's every humiliating expectation of her.
Traister also echoes our dismay over the media's focus on Britney's weight:
Wonder why your daughters have eating disorders and hate their bodies? Maybe because they're reading reports that label the thin young woman dancing around in a bra and panties physically unappealing and obese.
And although she doesn't come out and blame the patriarchy for Spears' downfall like we recently did, Traister does rail against the celebrity-sartorial complex that helped bring the pop-star to such a low point in life:
I'm willing to believe that she was pushed into show business by a striving mom, molded into a confusing vamp-virgin and told to sing songs about being hit while wearing a schoolgirl outfit; I'm willing to believe that she was offered no moral structure or opportunity to build a personality of her own; I'm willing to believe that she is a victim of grotesque class expectations that chucked her back in the Cheetohs-and-trucker-hats ghetto as swiftly as erotic expectations plucked her from it. But I'm not willing to believe that she was forced by anyone to show up on national television on Sunday night.
Good point, although at this point, it seems like ascribing blame to those responsible for the state she's in is less important than, well, just making sure the woman survives.