Apropos of Nothing…

It’s just amazing to me how pretty Britney Spears was when she was really young. I don’t know that she’s truly beautiful, she was never remote and stunning enough for that. And a huge amount of attention focused on her body and her clothing, but she just had an incredibly lovely, youthful face. The change from something like “Lucky”

To how tired she looks in “Everytime” (which I think is an underrated sad love pop song) is kind of stunning:

Really, her music video career is kind of an astonishing commentary on the paparazzi, almost a seminal document explaining their evolution. In “Lucky,” you’ve got the photographers with old-fashioned cameras who are part of the stylized Hollywood scene, but they’re non-threatening. In “Everytime,” they’re literally crushing her. Her boyfriend tries to fight them off by throwing tabloids back at them, and becomes yet another shot. The video’s got quite a bit that’s ugly in it, from the Jack Daniels bottle on the floor, to the disarray of their hotel room, littered with dirty glasses and clothes: even her panties are ragged.


By “Piece of Me,” she’s playing games with them, dressing up decoys, luring them into bathrooms, but in a resigned sort of way:

But even that can’t keep them from taking pictures up her skirt. And in a weird way, “If You Seek Amy,”she’s achieved a fascinating fusion of the images in both “Lucky” and “Everytime.” Inside the house, the remains of what looks like an orgy are waking up (and Britney’s sporting a corset and shoes I would kill for the opportunity to purchase):

For once, though, that dissolution isn’t prey to the paparazzi. By the time she faces the photographers, it’s in perfect preppy housewife gear, with a catalogue-issue husband and son flanking her, and an apple pie in hand. In “Piece of Me,” she lamented, or perhaps declared, “I’ve been Miss American Dream since I was seventeen,” and in this video, she’s giving the paparazzi, and observers at large, an impervious image of what they expected to be her. And there’s an extent to which she’s assimilated the obsession with her: “Love me / Hate me / Say what you want about me / But all of the boys and all of the girls / Are begging to if you seek Amy.” Their persecution of her is only the manifestation of their forever-unfulfilled desire.