Face the Cameras

Well, now we know that Jonas Akerlund does better work with Lady Gaga than with Britney Spears:

Britney’s me-against-the-media thing’s been done better, with fewer sci-fi trappings multiple times, perhaps best in the video for “Piece of Me.”As other, better critics have said, there’s nothing here to dispel the rumors that Britney can’t dance like she used to be able to, and there’s not much else to it either—it doesn’t seem high-concept or high-fashion in a world where Gaga’s queen of both of those domains, and it’s not really trashy fun, either. There’s always something a bit melancholy to Spears now, and I wonder if it might be smarter for Spears and her artistic collaborators to acknowledge that rather than trying to recreate her past glories.

But is it me, or does this owe a reasonable debt to Joss Whedon’s portrayal of Mr. Universe’s lair in Serenity? You’ve got the cloud cover, the room full of screens, and the pretty, but not-quite-human girl in the prom-cum-wedding dress lounging around inside of it. I don’t know that it’s a direct steal, and there’s certainly a bit of Satellite Five from Doctor Who in the external construction. But I think I’d like the video more if I had a sense that Akerlund had a familiarity with some recent popular sci-fi when he was conceptualizing this. It might make it feel deliberate, rather than like the awful mess it actually seems to be.