Illustration for article titled When Will Britney Spears Return to TikTok?
Screenshot: Britney Spears (TikTok)

Very few celebrities are actually good at TikTok, mostly because their attempts to pander to increasingly younger fanbases read as thirsty and transparently out-of-touch. Britney Spears, in contrast, was a ray of light on the platform, offering an unfiltered look at the enigma that is her interior life. Sadly, she’s been absent for a month, and her last run of consecutive posts were published in November 2019. Doesn’t she know the platform needs her?

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Whereas most celebrities—Will Smith and Reese Witherspoon, namely—spend their time on TikTok copying trends and asking their kids to make them look cooler, Spears made the sort of videos you’d expect from someone infinitely less famous and rich. If you’ve spent any amount of time on the app, you’d know the sort of content I’m talking about: grainy, slightly out of focus, and unabashedly slice-of-life. Like the pictures we all took on Instagram before it became our job to post, or “curate” was a word regularly employed by the denizens of social media.

In some of her TikToks, Spears just wanted to show off her collection of mini-dresses and white denim coochie-cutters plucked straight from 2004. They reminded me of the early days of Snapchat back in high school, when stringing together 300 mirror selfies was an enjoyable pastime for my friends and me. (I scrimped and saved for that American Apparel hoodie and everyone was just going to have to look at it a million times!)

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Often, Britney Spears would share the dances she’d been working on, while listening to “alternative hits” radio stations. Take the below TikTok, for instance, where she twirls and twirls and twirls to Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire.” Remember that song? I didn’t! (Until Britney Spears reminded me.)

What cannot be understated about Britney Spears’s TikTok, is that like her infamous Instagram account—where she thankfully still posts—it is an often perplexing peak into her interior life. Her posts read less as attempts to sell you a product, or push album sales, and more like the genuine diary entries of a 38-year-old former pop star. In the midst of the controversy and scandal besieging her private life, Spears remained unabashedly herself online. Worrying, yes, but weirdly endearing!

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With this in mind, let’s briefly return to the idyllic world inside Spears’s mind, where she had a “dazzling day” filming herself swimming 60 laps in her pool on a sunny day in Los Angeles.

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As any connoisseur of Spears’s social media presence knows, she loves showing off her minidresses. She really, really, really, really loves showing off her minidresses. Just watch the below video, where she holds our hand and guides us down a labyrinthine corridor. Because this is her mind palace, she’s able to change outfits with ease. We’re just along for the brief and blissful ride.

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If you stare too long at any of these TikToks, the blissful veneer they’ve been painted with begins to wear thin. Having studied them for much longer than I’d like to admit, I’ve found my enjoyment of them besieged by a deep, foreboding dread. Why does her eyeliner never change? Does she only own pair of white shorts? Why does she default to the sped-up, frenetic effect that gives her motions a jerking, puppet-like sensation? I fear that finding the answers I seek will be a philosophical endeavor as futile as understanding the reason for entropy itself, and so I will leave these questions for another day. I’d rather bury that dread, and live in this temporary moment on the lawn with Spears. It was her first post of 2020, and at press time is second to last post on the platform. The sun is shining, the grass is blindingly green, the birds are chirping, and her tan as orange as ever.

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