By H.G. Miller
Britney Spears has always made me feel a little dirty.
I can still remember the first time I saw her.
I was loafing through my senior year of college and spending my nights manning a post at the electronics counter of a Target superstore in Lawrence, Kansas. Walking into work one day, a group of four or five male employees were gaping in awed silence at one of the music videos included on the new promotional VHS tape from the distribution center.
There she was – decked out in a catholic schoolgirl outfit, with the skirt cut way too short and the top pulled into a knot so that her bellybutton could be seen winking with every shimmy of her body. Every hour on the hour for the whole night, I couldn’t tear myself away from those big doe eyes, full pouty lips and authoritative sashay down the hallway of a school that surely only existed in heaven.
As had become the custom by 1999, I raced home to the Internet to find out everything I could about this new goddess. Three whole web pages came up when I searched for her name (yes, three).
I quickly found out she was from Louisiana, she was signed to Jive Records, and she was born on December 2nd, 1981.
Whoa. She was only seventeen years old, probably sixteen when the video had been made. I felt shame. I felt dirty.
Having discovered her youth, I quickly became uncomfortable watching each day as she enticed the lust out of passing customers. I became even more troubled about the tingle I felt every time she mouthed the words “hit me, baby, one more time.” All of the possible connotations sending my mind into sultry and sadistic places.
After I graduated and moved to Los Angeles, Britney again found heavy rotation on MTV with the “Oops, I did it again” video. It was now legal for me to imagine what one might do if they were stranded on Mars with Ms. Spears, but I couldn’t shake the idea that she was three years younger than my little sister, and somebody I should be looking out for, not lusting after.
Dirty dirty dirty.
Over the years, I’ve kept up a passing interest in Britney’s career – one built upon the creepy parallel desires of scary old men and screaming young girls. It was almost impossible to take your eyes off this seemingly wholesome girl as she competed with Christina Agguilera to see who could slut it up more.
The periodic stripteases at MTV award shows. Greasing herself up for every men’s magazine on the rack. Making out with Madonna. It was like struggling to keep a friend from dropping out of school, dealing with the disillusionment of watching Britney desperately fight to stave off irrelevance.
The quickie wedding in Vegas should have been the final straw between Britney and me. I should have seen then that this wasn’t a relationship worth saving. The fascination was wearing thin. The annulment a few days later only pushed the notion even further that the marriage was only a desperate cry for attention. Attention I could no longer spare the fading starlet.
Of course, she’s engaged again. I saw her this week on the cover of People magazine. Britney and her new fiancé and his first illegitimate child. For the first time, Britney failed to make me feel dirty, she just made me sad.
The girl who was once a goddess of forbidden desires now looked as if she could be any girl from high school. Rushing into another bad relationship with a user guy. Walking further down the path towards irrelevance. Stifling any future potential.
All that’s left now is the inevitable pictorial in Playboy. One last tug at the lust of men who need to see what they’ve been fantasizing about for all these years. After that, she will be no more secrets about Britney Spears and she will fade away. She will take a place in my mind next to the dropout, who I always wonder if he finally put it all together.
I will finally stop caring, and I will move on.