Twenty feet away from me, Britney Spears is pantless. Her sculpted hair makes her look like Marilyn Monroe on a date with DiMaggio, assuming they are going to Manhattan’s greatest pantless restaurant. She’s sporting a sweater that possibly costs more than my dad and mom’ house, and her white heels add five inches to her five-foot-four pantless frame. Oh, and did I point out she’s pantless? She’s not wearing any pants.
This is a hard element to disregard.
This is a tough element to ignore because the guys who’ve seen a pantless Britney belong to a pretty choose fraternity: It’s Justin Timberlake, her gynecologist, the photographer who is doing this specific picture shoot, and (maybe) the frontman for a third-fee rap-steel band from Jacksonville, Florida. That’s greater or less each person. And — possibly stupidly — I certainly notion I turned into approximately to rush this semipathetic frat; I truly believed the purpose I became invited to this picture shoot changed into to glimpse Britney’s secret garden and write about its cultural importance. Somehow, that seemed just like the only logical clarification as to why her bare ass become being unleashed on the quilt of this magazine; this complete affair must be an aggressive, self-aware reinvention. I suggest, why else would they have got invited the writer to the shoot? Why else could Spears have simply released the “news” that she misplaced her virginity at the age of eighteen (a story that surfaced only twenty-four hours earlier than this very photograph consultation)? Isn’t this how the present day media operates? Isn’t the whole thing utterly overt?
Britney’s womanhood will now not be visible this afternoon, or as a minimum now not seen through me. All her photos are in the end shot at the back of a 15-foot-excessive opaque partition, and nary a heterosexual man is allowed at the back of it. Apparently, the cause I am here is to be reminded that the essence of Britney Spears’s rawest sexuality is some thing I will in no way see, despite the fact that I know it’s there. Culturally, there’s nothing greater trenchant than the truth that Britney Spears will never give it up, even though she already has.
Over the subsequent 90 mins, I will sit subsequent to a purportedly completely clothed Britney and ask her questions. She will no longer sincerely solution any of them. Interviewing Britney Spears is like deposing Bill Clinton: Regardless of the evidence, she does now not waver. “Why do you dress so provocatively?” I ask. She says she does not get dressed provocatively. “But appearance what you are wearing right now,” I say, even as looking at 3 inches of her internal thigh, her entire stomach, and sufficient cleavage to choke a musk ox. “This is only a skirt and a pinnacle,” she responds. It is not that Britney Spears denies that she is a sexual icon, or that she disputes that American guys are fascinated about the concept of the wet-warm virgin, or that she feels her success says nothing approximately what our society fantasizes about. She does not disagree with any of that stuff, due to the fact she swears she has never even notion about it. Not even as soon as.
“That’s just a unusual question,” she says. “I do not even want to reflect onconsideration on that. That’s odd, and I don’t consider things like that, and I do not want to think about things like that. Why have to I? I don’t must address the ones humans. I’m concerned with the kids obtainable. I’m involved with the subsequent era of human beings. I’m now not involved about a few guy who is a perv and wants to meet a freaking virgin.”
And all of sudden, some thing will become painfully clean: Either Britney Spears is the least self-aware person I’ve ever met, or she’s manner, way savvier than any folks recognise.
Compared with the depletion of the ozone layer or the political destiny of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I concede that the lifestyles of Britney Spears is mild-years past trivial. But if you’re remotely inquisitive about the cylinders that pressure popular culture, it is tough to overestimate her importance. She is not so much a person as she is an idea, and the concept is this: You can need everything, so long as you get nothing. Obviously, Britney is the naughtiest proper girl of all time. But what makes her so one of a kind from preceding incarnations of jailbait purity — Tiffany, Brooke Shields, Annette Funicello, et al. — is her complete unwillingness to understand that this paradox exists at all.
Case in factor: On the day of our interview, Britney become photographed for this magazine wearing simplest panties and jewelry, and she or he pulled down the elastic of her underclothes with her thumbs. If she had pulled two inches greater, Esquire would have emerge as Hustler. But that truth does no longer have an effect on her reality, which is that these photos don’t have anything to do with intercourse.
Britney: Haven’t you ever seen women on mag covers before? Did you notice the J. Lo cowl? She was carrying a bikini. Did you spot the Cameron Diaz cover?
Me: Yes, I did. And why do you think the ones ladies did those photo shoots?
Britney: Because it’s the freaking cover of Esquire magazine! Why now not? You get to appearance beautiful. It’s now not that deep.
Me: So why do you observed the magazine places ladies like that on its cover?
Britney: I don’t know. Maybe because the ones people are quite and appealing, and that they work their asses off, and they accept as true with in themselves.
Me: Do you honestly trust that?
Britney: Well, some humans would possibly say it is simply to make cash and promote magazines. But any other motive — a better reason, and the only I choose — is they do it to inspire humans.
Britney is almost just like the little child who freaks out Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. You say you need to bend a spoon? Well, the first thing you need to understand is that there is no spoon.
Viewed retrospectively, there is absolute confidence that the romance among Justin Timberlake and Britney helped Timberlake’s career more than hers — specially when you consider that Spears always insisted she changed into a virgin, even when they sold a domestic collectively. Optimistic 13-year-antique girls may want to imagine Justin as the closing gentleman, perfectly content to maintain his paws to himself whilst the foxiest girl on this planet sat around the house in her underclothes, sucking on Popsicles and telling him to attend until she become equipped. They have been, in a feel, Virgin Royalty: superrich, über-easy pop stars who epitomized just how terrific teenaged Americans could still be.
This is why it was so jarring to listen Fred Durst graphically discussing his alleged sexual dalliances with Spears on The Howard Stern Show in February. Her stumble upon with the Limp Bizkit frontman — no matter whether it is proper — publicly cemented Spears’s fall from grace; Durst is universally perceived as rock’s sleaziest shaggy dog story.
“That became my fault for striking out with human beings like that,” she says of Durst. “Fred was a very excellent man. He turned into a pleasing guy. And at the time he turned into seeking to come on to me, I wasn’t in the right body of thoughts to have a courting with all people. So maybe I did harm his ego, and [taking place the radio] changed into his way of handling that. But I learned my lesson. And on the time, I became type of careworn, due to the fact my tour had just ended. Me and my girlfriends went out one night, and I was feeling like a loose chicken. But I truly don’t need to talk about this.”
I have no concept what those last few statements are supposed to intend; either she glaringly slept with him, or she manifestly failed to. The odds are fifty-fifty. And that is a balance Britney either a) consciously strives to maintain, or b) sustains without even attempting. Cliché as it may sound, she is without a doubt all things to each person: A twelve-yr-old female thinks she’s a hero; that female’s older brother thinks she’s a porn star; that older brother’s female friend thinks she’s an example of why ladies hate themselves; that lady friend’s father secretly desires his personal twelve-year-vintage daughter would invite Britney over for a shut eye birthday party. As lengthy as she in no way dictates her individual — so long as Spears never brazenly says, “This is who I am” — all and sundry gets to inject his very own meaning. Subconsciously, we all get to rebrand Britney Spears.
“The public knows whilst someone is being honest,” she says. “The human beings realize what’s actual. This might be a unusual analogy, however it’s like watching Friends. You simply get what those humans are speaking approximately. It’s humorous to you, and you’re interested in them.”
On the floor, this assertion is insane. It could appear that anyone who watches Friends could in no way argue that it’s a hit due to its “honesty,” nor wouldn’t it appear as though its characters have conversations that mirror any kind of tangible normalcy. But every single week, twenty million humans watch Friends. They see some thing in Chandler Bing and Phoebe Buffay that makes them satisfied. And what those twenty million human beings see is some thing that Britney sees — and possibly Britney knows — in a manner that most people do now not.