In 2001, disgraced photographer Patrick Demarchelier photographed Britney Spears in a variety of looks, most notably a purple top and matching lace pants. In 2020, Cher saved that photoshoot to her iPhone camera roll. Why, you think?
This morning, Cher logged on to Twitter, understandably upset that the failed institution of the Democratic Party had catastrophically botched the Iowa caucus results. Unlike most, however, she offered a confounding new explanation for the quandary of the delayed caucus numbers: Donald Trump and an army of flying monkeys had somehow intervened in the school gymnasiums across Iowa, secretly dismantling the relic of a bygone era in constitutional democracy. Sure, Cher! Besides, that’s not really what’s important here. Peep her camera roll!
In the third photograph, there is a diminutive photograph of Britney Spears, as well as a Google Image search result picture of herself, and a bunch of flying monkeys. What was Britney Spears doing in there?
Understand, this isn’t just any photograph of Britney Spears. There is precisely one file of it in existence, and it is a grainy, 600x400 monstrosity from a time when computers weren’t high resolution enough for that scale to matter:
Even fansites that have dedicated the past 20 years meticulously cataloguing Spears’ various escapades have the exact same file, despite others from the photoshoot being higher quality scans. (I even double checked the metadata to be sure.) This isn’t just any picture of Britney Spears—it’s probably the last of its kind in existence!
Generally, photoshoots, even those that happened in the aughts, spawn various high-quality rescans in the modern era. Google “Beyonce photoshoot 2002" and you’ll find approximately 300 variations on the same magazine scan. For Cher to encounter this one photo, so low-quality that most would not even post it to begin with, is perplexing. A mystery, even!
I tried a variety of keywords and combinations to find this photograph in Google images. The only success I had in the endeavor was with “Britney Spears purple shirt purple pants” and “Britney Spears Patrick Demarchelier.” With the latter accused of making aggressive sexual advances towards models, I can’t imagine why Cher’s brain would suddenly connect the two. As for why she would need to know what the pop legend looks like in a co-ordinated purple outfit is an even larger onion to peel, with more mysteries revealing themselves the deeper I traverse into its many layers.
Finding no answers on Google images, I trawled Cher’s Twitter mentions, likes, and timeline for answers. And still I found none! Representatives for Cher did not immediately return my request for comment about the matter, but I will absolutely update this post when (or if!) they do.