By total coincidence I watched Factory Girl last night directly before Britney Spears’ opening act at the MTV Video Music Awards. I think the pairing offers some notable parallels. Edie Sedgwick was broken down and shattered by publicity and celebrity. Then she died unceremoniously of a drug overdose. Britney has been similarly chewed up by the machine, and she has had her share of public breakdowns. Unlike Edie Sedgwick, however, Britney Spears is fighting back. Unlike Edie Sedgwick, Britney Spears lives. And she probably will for a long time.
I was totally on Britney’s side when she went bat shit on those photographers at the gas station. Not insignificantly, her strategic use of an umbrella brought her closer in my mind to a childhood idol of mine. But more to the point, I think I’d lose it too, if I were constantly denied the opportunity to take control of my life by the people who want to record every frame of it.
The girl is working some stuff out. So she turned in a lackluster performance last night. Why should I sing when I can lip sync? Why should I dance when all these other dancers can do all the work? I can just phone in this thing.
And y’all are gonna watch anyway.
And we did.
OK, so last night’s performance in Las Vegas wasn’t exactly a show stopper. There are a lot of second-rate showgirls in that town who could have given her a run for her money. The sea of blank faces among the who’s who in attendance was more entertaining than Britney. But she was out there. And she wore that sequined bikini. You know that had to have been her choice — no one would have recommended it to her. Maybe she’s taking some control after all.
I will say this: She looked healthy. Some said fat, but I disagree. I think she looks better as a woman than as an anorexic stick figure.
Whatever she does next will be better. It could hardly be worse. But no one likes to be fooled. I hope we’re still there to watch her next time.