Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Thoughts on Britney

I have no sympathy for Britney Spears anymore. If you want to play the card that she's a girl that was pushed into it by her parents who wanted some success for her that they never had - well, then maybe I would have bought that somewhere back in 1998. But she's a big girl now, and since her life is a materialistic mecca (in which she seems completely at home, I might add) and she gets engaged to some dancer while his girlfriend is pregnant with his child, all the while pretending to be a role model for young girls - well, then she can go to hell. I don't think I'm being a grouchy old conservative windbag either; if she wants to party her ass off and have some fun with single guys, that's one thing. But getting into other people's relationships, particularly when they involve children, is dirty.

It's also particularly galling to me that she's held up as a role model for girls. This will probably evolve into another post at another time, but MTV has done a spectacular job at selling kids sex and telling them it's good/healthy/positive to express themselves sexually (see: Madonna) and then washing their hands of the consequences. I think this is particularly shameful when examined in the context of the black community. Just about any video played on MTV anymore (when they do play videos) is some rap or R&B song, and inevitably in every song you see women dancing around in nothing and prostrating themselves in front of whatever artist is featured. Which is fine, if you want to push that to adults (hell, I'm a guy - I like seeing girls in tube tops too). But MTV's target demographic has shifted from the 20-35 year-old crowd (remember back in the late '80s, when it played videos by adult entertainers?) to the 12-27 year-old swath of the population, a fact that is evident when you go to any Britney Spears or Christina concert and look at the faces in the audience. And it only follows logically that MTV holds some influence over how these kids view sex.

I guess if MTV occasionally played something OTHER than the Chingy/Lil' Jon fare, I'd be happy. But that's all you see. And they want to tell me that this has no effect on how adolescent males decide to view adolescent females? As I said, given the amount of young, unwed mothers in the black community, this is a huge disservice to the black youth, who quickly learn at a young age that women are good for objectifying, since their favorite rapper does it four times daily on MTV. I believe the Tortfeasor could comment at length on this, given his experience in Teach For America.

I guess I just see Britney as part of this same problem. Artists throw all of this sexually charged stuff at kids, then sit back in their mansions and say "what, why blame me? I'm just a musician. Parents, you guys should do a better job." Give me a break. Why do you think Pepsi signed Britney to a contract? Because she moves units, because she's adored by girls everywhere. It's tough to believe that little girls will want to buy Pepsi because Britney drinks it, but will choose to ignore the other message being broadcast about their body image and sex.


At 1:48 PM, Blogger Tortfeasor said...

Look, there is simply no truer maxim than "garbage in, garbage out" -- fill kids' (or adults') minds with harmful and irresponsible messages, and expect harmful and irresponsible results. Like Bo said, Pepsi ain't paying Britney big bucks for shits and giggles -- they know the power of advertising, they know that people respond to the images they see.

Don't believe it? Try reprimanding seventh-graders for continually singing the lyrics "my neck, my back, my p**** and my crack." Yes, disturbing -- but I swear, many of them couldn't understand why I was so uptight about it. Try expressing the appropriate response when one of your twelve year-old students proudly announces that she is pregnant. Yeah, it sucks.

There is plenty of blame to go around, of course--the artists, the parents, the schools. BET, in my opinion, deserves particular blame, for pretending on one hand to be an advocate for the black community, and then airing the absolute filth of rap videos 12 hours a day. Their irresponsibility is appalling.


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