It’s Britney, Bitch. And we don’t stand a chance in her world.
Every since the #FreeBritney movement succeeded in…well, freeing Britney, the pop icon has been back on social media in rare form. After years of carefully crafted Instagram posts in which subtle details such as the color of the pop star’s top were mined for clues as to whether she was screaming for help…in code…her various social media platforms have now become something most users are more likely to expect from OnlyFans (if they know what that site is at all).
In layman’s terms: Britney is posting a lot of nudes. For the sake of accuracy, it’s worth noting that she uses size-adjustable graphics called “stickers” to cover up only the “bare necessities” (excuse the pun, it was too perfect) that avoid the pictures actually being considered full-on nudes. But we all know that covering a nipple for “modesty” has always been a weird Ratings Guide technicality. Yet this is exactly why Britney is smarter than all of us. She’s calling EVERYONE’S bluff, and the only possible flaw to this plan (if a flaw exists at all) is that she’s playing such an elaborate game of 3D chess that people still think she’s not playing with a full set of pieces. But when you’re playing 3D and the people around you don’t even know you’re playing, well…after awhile you just do what you want and flip the middle finger as you exit the tournament, chess trophy in hand.
The responses to Britney’s nudes tend to fall into two categories: the Please Get Helpers and the Leave Britney Aloners. But the Hypotenuse Perspective can help us see a third perspective. She neither needs help nor our defense anymore.
Before her family infamously sought to tie up her assets and control her person through a legal conservatorship, the press was Britney’s first Boss Battle. As a young, incredibly talented star, the papparazi and press went to town attacking her for having sexuality (see here), then demanding she display and delight in her sexuality (see here), then attacking her mental health, her capabilities as a mother–all while making the ability to maintain a sense of mental health or normative maternity impossible by following her around everywhere to get another glimpse of her supposed failings. Is it possible to do even the most mundane of things “normally” when twenty people are crowding around you asking you if you’ve already failed, and perhaps even making you act abnormally by pushing you, or crowding around you?
The press was quick to run to Britney’s aid decades after it so willingly chased the narrative of her downfall (whether it existed or not in reality), but even should there be journalists out there with a moral compass who truly have worked to help her (and there seem to be/have been), the industry itself still exists by feeding the same voyeuristic urges that got us to #FreeBritney to begin with.
What does she have to gain by giving one single interview again for the rest of her life? Absolutely nothing. There’s no setting the record straight that can aid her one bit now. The legal and financial records have already been set straight in the court of law, and she can live comfortably off the fruits of her labor for the rest of her life. What has trying to set the record straight for the public’s sake ever gotten her (answer: moments like this). There is absolutely no way that doing so will serve her, unless she wants to increase her audience engagement or platform. NEWS FLASH: you can’t get much more famous than Britney, and I doubt she has much use for extra gobs of cash considering:
- 1) she has 100000% more right now than she’s had access to for years and
- 2) all that gobs of cash made her little more than a target for her family’s greed (there are now numerous stories of such conservatorships happening to other, lesser-known celebrities for likely similar reasons, so her story is not so random, sudden, or unexpected as it might have seemed. She probably HATES what money did to make her a target).
BUT HERE’S THE CATCH. When celebrities refuse to give interviews, what happens? That’s where the paparazzi comes in, of course. We’ve seen what that did to Princess Diana, and of course to Britney herself. The consequences can be deadly, or worse than death–it can put you in a legal living tomb. She knows far too well the power and danger of the paparazzi. We know that historically, she tried to work with them, to make them feel like allies, and thereby avoid their targeted harassment. It didn’t work. The public and the press wanted more more more, and there is simply no way to give them what they want in a way that removes their teeth. Unless….
Unless you put it all out there (except for tiny graphic stickers that we all know are a media censorship joke anyway). Having seen that she’s damned if she gives interviews to the press willingly (they will misinterpret it and she has nothing to gain from that except more toxic fame that poisoned her life in the first place), and damned if she refuses publicity (the paparazzi will beat down her door anyway), she’s done what I’ve seen few women successfully do: she’s eliminated the very possibility of voyeurism by becoming her own voyeur, her own paparazzi if you will. If she is posting her own pictures–and not just pictures, nudes posted with abandon (sometimes delight, but more often than not, her expressions in the images strike me as having a matter-of-fact no-fucks-given businesswoman stratagem about them)–what is there for anyone to exploit? There is no more salacious secret, nothing left to wonder about what’s happening inside the walls of her home or on her vacations. It takes all the wonder and the mystery away from the press and the paparazzi, and places the story firmly in her hands.
If she floods the airwaves with so much information, there is very little power in any one paparazzi photo. If she tells us that she would “rather shit in [her] pool” than perform again, no one is going to salivate over getting some “exclusive interview” with Britney to reveal her performance plans . When she dances for the camera–usually clothed and with the same, unchanging choreography–she similarly broadcasts “there’s nothing left to see here, now go away.” And the sum total of her social media posts call our bluff as viewers ourselves.
In my personal opinion, she may be growing tired of our obtuseness, rather like the exasperated college lecturer who has to explain something to a class for the 10th time. I believe this because her social media posts have gotten more obviously satirical, doing away with the underplayed notes she suspects we aren’t picking up on. Her most recent Tweet includes a full-length nude (again with the tasteful/meaningless censorship I fully believe she is poking fun at) and the caption, “I have a premiere for a movie this week “THE LEGISLATIVE ACT OF MY P—Y“ !!!!”
No such movie exists, but the egg on our face does. What did we expect her to say? What do any of us expect, really, from any celebrity on Twitter? Social Media has given us the very odd belief that we are somehow intimately connected to the lives of the public figures we “follow,” obscuring the rather obvious and mundane fact that they are simply people with large audiences, who they can’t connect with personally, even if they wanted to, because of the sheer scale of their fans. The shocking punchline of her crass, fake movie title forces us to sit with this discomfort. She completely duped us in the space of 65 characters. What did we think we were going to get, secret access to her life? Well, here, she says: there are no secrets anyway (the nude) and, a little louder for those in the back–there is nothing to see here (the fake movie title we feel a twinge of discomfort even reading). Her point is that we should feel uncomfortable (for demanding some sort of offering of herself to us in the form of information or news), and her method is to overwhelm us with information so that we’re sorry we asked (and maybe we’ll even stop asking). By simultaneously saying nothing through the visual and textual method of baring everything–she gives us the best southern “how dare you” I’ve gotten since I tried to take more than my fair share of potato salad at a Texas family reunion. The “you should be ashamed for even asking” Mom vibe is real here with Britney.
As she has said eloquently in numerous interviews, she is “very good at what she does.” What she does–or did, rather–was multimodal entertainment. And we have lost the privileges of being a witness to that talent anymore. We never deserved Britney. And she’s finally letting us know with all the verve that made her a star to begin with–her star beams only for herself now.