There's something about Britney

"Spears' image blurs the line between fantasy and reality"


Salon Staff
May 26, 2000 11:32PM (UTC)

Oops, she's doing it again!
BY STRAWBERRY SAROYAN (05/22/00)

While I enjoyed Strawberry Saroyan's article on Britney Spears (whose music -- nay, whose entire genre -- I detest), she seemed to gloss over or miss two very important facts that set her apart from Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Mariah Carey: her age and her peer group. While young girls may have related to Madonna or now relate to Gwen Stefani, they do so at a distance. They want to be Gwen or Madonna or Mariah WHEN THEY GROW UP. Britney, on the other hand, is a peer. At best, she is the slightly older sister they will be in one or two years. This might explain, then, why young girls wouldn't want Spears as a friend.

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Even more important than age, however, is the fact Britney wants to appear (in an albeit highly sexualized form) just one of the girls. Madonna was the cool girl they saw in the parking lot and who lived in the "other neighborhood." Likewise, Gwen is the crazy pierced girl with tattoos. And of course the fact Mariah is "ethnic" puts her in a completely different area code as far as most suburban teeny-boppers are concerned. Again, Britney doesn't offer this critical distance between fantasy and fact. There are certain fantasies which we enjoy, but only as fantasies. I think Spears' image blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. She may (or may not) represent schoolgirl desires, but she also represents schoolgirls.

-- Tommy S. Kim

Get over it! We all wish we could be living the life that she is. And we all thought that we were grown up when we were teenagers. So stick to the important issues, and leave the teenage life up to her. After all, you already had yours!

-- Jack Kennedy

The article about Britney Spears was a well-written, insightful piece; however it started with the flawed assumption that Spears is a human being. We here at Hangar 666 on the Disney back lot in Orlando are entirely responsible for Ms. Spears; indeed she is the finest piece of "entertainment programming in response to marketing" (tm OprahDisneyGates Inc.) we have built to date, though Ms. Aguilera and the assorted boy groups were none too shabby either.

As our expertise in this fascinating new technology develops, please look to us for even more timely and succinct answers to all of your entertainment/psych needs.

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-- Sincerely,
Michael "Walt" Geffen (a.k.a. John Pazdan)
Hologram Emeritus
ODG Inc.
Orlando, Fla.

It seems that Saroyan hit the nail right on the head. Many times I have wondered what the attraction is. Not only for me, a guy her age, but for the rest of the popular world. I agree with the "black and blue wrapped in a pretty pink ribbon" idea, but I also think that it is a tease effect. She's like, "Here I am, all yours -- wait, no you can't, haha." But we can't really describe what Britney is giving us or how she sells all those records. I think it boils down to the primal human instincts of, "Ooooh ... pretty!" We always want something we can't have. Britney plays that role all too well.

-- C.J. (Trey) Nantz

This article makes many valid points about the contrast of Britney Spears' dual images as a virgin and a slut. However the major problem I have with the article is the fact that the writer seems to be under the impression that Spears herself writes the lyrics and decides on her own image. Spears' media image, including the subject matter of all her songs, is the product of 40-something record industrialists. And yes, while much of her appeal stems from her sexuality, one must realize that -- gasp -- teenagers have sex. And let's not forget the fact that Spears is now 18, which is the age of consent. All of this besides the fact that Spears herself has told interviewers that she is still a virgin.

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Does she know that her sex appeal sells the vast percentage of her products? I'm sure that she does; she's not that innocent. But she is also aware of the fact that she is selling a fantasy and we must be aware of the fact that a performer's media image is often vastly different from her real life. One must admit though, all the controversy certainly keeps her name in the public. You know what they say: There's no such thing as bad publicity.

-- Brian Burns


Salon Staff

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