Britney blew it on stage, just as she’s blown it in real life more than once. While in concert at the recent Billboard Music Awards, she chose to lip synch while Nicki Minaj crooned her part of the duet live. As fate would have it, Britney’s badly-synched music and half-hearted moves made her seem less than professional, according to the gripes of critics and disappointed viewers.
But try as fate might, it cannot convince fans to flee Britney Spears. As an enduring icon, nothing seems to tarnish her record or dim her glow. She’s behaved worse than she did at the Billboards, and it hasn’t smeared her super status.
She’s allegedly faked her virginity, sniffed cocaine off a toilet top, trod barefoot in a public restroom, rushed a marriage just to have kids, been stripped of those kids by the courts, scalped herself, dropped her drawers, kissed a married woman, and been rushed by ambulance to the nut ward.
Fate should know better by now. Life keeps pummeling Britney with lemons, and they keep dripping to her feet like lemonade. No one cares if Britney can’t sing live. No one cares that her life spins out one public relations calamity after another. With all that had transpired before, her current Femme Fatale album slid into place at the top of the pop slots with effortless ease. Whenever she performs– computerized vocals or no– her fans turn out in droves.
This is due to a slew of factors. Foremost, Britney has a sincerity about her that makes her brashest dilemmas seem innocent. She often takes disparagement as self-improvement fodder. And she conveys a humility that is inspiring. When accused of being “poor white trash,” she said, “What’s wrong with that?”
Since her child star days, she has lived her life on front street, every misstep being memorialized in video and print. And she’s weathered more than her share of discomfitures. After she swapped spit with Madonna, Madonna chummied up to her ex-fiancee for a video opportunity. An assistant allegedly fed her drugs that drove her out of control. A trusted male figure dangled counseling at her in exchange for ratings.
Some disbelievers thought she was over-dramatizing when she sang, “You Want a Piece of Me,” to the menacing press. But then came the video of her and her sibling trapped in a drastic setting, with their car pressed on all sides by the relentless paparazzi until the sisters had to abandon the vehicle, loop arms, and take one micro-step per minute to make it through the frenzied masses to the door of a hotel (where Security was obviously too overcome by the scene to sacrifice their own safety by coming out to rescue her). One small trip and she and her sister could have been mincemeat. Yes, the papparazi wanted a piece of her. And so did we, her mesmerized public.
Perhaps the tragedy of losing Anna Nicole Smith ceased the masses from immersing themselves so much in Britney’s incessant saga. Many of us breathed a sigh of relief when her father came riding in to the big city to save the day.
And so, admirably, Britney endures. She makes a record and people buy it. She shows up and people throng her. She lip synchs and people wait to hear the music behind it. She is resilient and iconic. No matter what horror she finds herself entangled in, she is still America’s Little Mickey Mouse Sweetheart. And she is still — Winning.