i recently responded to an article in the Seattle Times' NEXT blog; it's a blog which they're paying a bunch of young adults to write for- a great concept and worthy of checking out. my letter was a response to a post concerning the overt sexuality of Britney Spears, and someone either actually liked what i had to say or they desperately needed something to print. in either case- there's nothing like getting your opinion posted on a blog with more readers than THIS one! my post can be seen here, and the main page for the Seattle Times NEXT blog is here.
i updated this post to include my original letter for those who don't feel like surfing to another site to read it:
Re: "Cinderella turned Stripperella," by Christina Asavareungchai (NEXT, March 14):
Anyone who viewed Britney Spears' video for "Baby One More Time" as a projection of an "innocent" image missed the point. It was a standard, softcore "school-girl-fantasy," plain and simple. The bad-girl image began right there, in a calculated manner, in as explicit form as practicable for a 16-year-old girl in this society.
That many people viewed this as "innocent" speaks volumes about just how mainstream sex-based marketing has become. But it fooled the kids, not the adults. Sure, Britney's career (think Disney) was originally aimed at a young market, but it's obvious it isn't anymore; and of course it isn't, she's not 12 anymore.
"Shocking" revelations about masturbation get press — for awhile. Britney is only the latest sex-symbol pop-tart in a chain that started when the recording industry began exploiting video as a marketing tool in the 1960s. How many ugly female pop stars do you see? It's not that there aren't ugly girls who want to be pop stars, even talented ones. The industry calls them "writers." Someone has to supply all these pretty girls with their material.
Why sign artists who don't look good on camera? There'll always be plenty of good-looking girls willing to prostitute themselves for fame and fortune. The RIAA and every other group of softcore pornographers will always be willing to exploit that.
Crass is a perfect description of Britney's career; get ready for more of the same. Sex sold yesterday, sells today, and will continue to sell tomorrow. Britney and countless other quasi-talented "artists" are making their hay while the sun shines. Too bad these same "artists" have to deal with all this competition from the porn industry; it's gotta be hard for marginally talented girls to get some press in a field this crowded.
Boycotting of Britney and her ilk is already done by countless people at the checkout line. She has a right to whatever share of the market she can get. I admire Christina Asavareungchai's call to support artists who convey a more worthwhile message — she isn't not the first to do so and she's certainly not alone — but the reality is that more substantive work by popular female artists has been largely marginalized in favor of easy-to-market sexual content that became mainstream a long time ago.
Periodically the popular taste pendulum swings back the other way, as in the case of Seattle's "grunge" movement, but when there's a lull in that momentum, the RIAA will always have another Britney to throw in the mix.
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