The only other thing I have to add is that I saw a drag king show at a thrift store in Cambridge—featuring, among other things, a king who did a German-cabaret/cowboy/stripper version of "Oops! . . . I Did It Again."

October 22. From: Irin My friend Allison downloaded the "I'm a Slave 4 U" video and wrote me an e-mail asking, "When did Britney become Pamela Anderson posing as a showgirl in a brothel in Tijuana? And how does abstinence fit into this? Is the pope penciled in after her late-nite nudie shift? TRL is officially The Red Lightdistrict."

Smoke and mirrors at Madison Square Garden, last Wednesday night
photo: David Atlas
Smoke and mirrors at Madison Square Garden, last Wednesday night


Britney Spears

October 22. From: Amy Actually, most people I'm friends with either don't think about Britney at all or just plain despise her. Part of it is snobbery, of course, but part of it is that they're just not interested. Whenever I try to engage them in any sort of intelligent debate about Britney or any other "disposable" pop star, they usually just dismiss me with a comment like "Britney Spears represents everything I hate about American culture" (an exact quote from my boyfriend).

Is Britney still claiming to be a virgin? Man, I'm so behind on these things.

October 30. From: Irin Three of us sat in my common room and watched the "Slave" video, arguing over whether Britney was being portrayed as getting pleasure out of the sweaty, pulsating throng that was grunting in a circle around her. If anything, though, she's totally in charge of all of them. And all the other dancers are just faceless foils.

PS: I hate myself for loving the "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" cover. Sort of.

November 19. From: Amy What the fuck is Rolling Stone doing putting her on the cover AGAIN??? Let's see, her last cover was September 13. Is this some kind of record? (On the September cover, to Britney's right is written "NIRVANA'S NEVERMIND 10 YEARS AFTER: INSIDE THE MAKING OF THE ALBUM THAT CHANGED THE WORLD." Are you fucking kidding me? It changed the world so much that Daniel Johnston is on the cover of Rolling Stone now, right? Man, I hope Kurt, wherever he is, got a good laugh out of that one.)

November 23. From: Irin I just watched the second half of the HBO special (Britney, soaking wet in a crystal bra, doing a horrid souped-up version of " . . . Baby One More Time" for the troops).

And, here, as promised, are my thoughts on some of the new songs:

"I'm a Slave 4 U': Even when she's trying to scrape her candy gurgle of a voice into some kind of sexy, sultry growl, she still sounds like a little girl playing dress up. I was wrong on two fronts concerning the lyrics: I thought she was cooing, "kitty, kitty"; turns out it's "get it, get it." Also, what I initially assumed were wordless, unintelligible yaps turned out to be "Baby, don't you wanna dance upon me/Leaving behind my name, my age?" Even if she didn't write it, that's pretty astute—plenty of people want to dance "upon" her, to get somewhere that has nothing to do with her. I like the jarring drag and lift of the beat and, between her pants (as in, her gasps!), the zombie drone of the chorus. But this will obviously never be "Oops"—i.e., drunken college boys won't opt for this one for karaoke stripteases. (I'm not making that up.)

"Lonely": I like Britney better when she's acting pissed off than when she's trying to act sexy. Good chorus, forgettable song.

"Boys": The absolute best part is when she yelps, "GET NASTY!/Moan Moan Moan, OUW!" The Neptunes beat doesn't save this one, but it makes a valiant effort by muffling everything else.

"Cinderella": OK, I get it—she's Cinderella, because she's a slave 4 her boyfriend, scrubbing at the cinders and his approval. But she's had enough, because he doesn't let her say what's on her mind. So she's leaving. Wait, is this a feminist revision of the fairy tale? Maybe I'm just assigning to her what I want to be there . . . maybe I should stick to Le Tigre and Sleater-Kinney.

"Bombastic Love": My favorite song—I found myself audibly humming it at my film discussion section. I'm a sucker for fake operatic interludes. Something about the occasional jerkiness of the chorus reminds me of the flailing of a marionette, and then I want to pat myself on the back for the obvious wit of my metaphor.

November 22. From: Amy I explored tonight. Her mom's diary is still up. Interesting items for sale in the Britney store: "punk headshot sleeveless shirt" ($49.95—I have no clue what makes this shirt "punk"); "Britney Tour 2001 sterling tag choker necklace" (it says "Slave 4 U" on the front—something you'd see in a fetish shop. Who do you think your audience is, Ms. Spears?); afghan throw rug; teddy bears; hair accessory fanny packs; bubblegum.

Britney was the subject of discussion at Thanksgiving dinner tonight for about 15 minutes. Consensus: She's a good dancer.

November 25. From: Amy Who was on acid when they dreamed up those between-song vignettes on the HBO special? If you see the video, check out the opening sequence of dancers crawling up her billboard on the side of the MGM Grand (a metaphor for the public's invasion of her privacy, perhaps?) and the dude who really, really looks like Jon Voight reading a nonsensical "bedtime story" to a little girl before the "Born to Make You Happy"/"Lucky"/etc. medley. That was some wack shit. And oh god, that version of "Baby" was terrible. I did, however, think the rain idea was genius—it was like the whole concert was foreplay leading up to the money shot. There she is in her crystal bra and ass-crack jeans, soaking in the entire nation's cum.

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