We grew up with her in the nineties, through the Mickey Mouse Club, and idolized her as she became a pop superstar with her debut single "...Baby One More Time" — a song that many of us at Prep could still probably recite the lyrics to. She was an innocent 17-year old girl from the South who seemed to encapsulate the wholesomeness and simplicity of American society during the nineties. Unfortunately, that wholesome and simple American girl and country are gone...replaced by something older, more unsavory, and more sophisticated.
Britney Spears has, in the last ten years, transformed herself from the image of America’s good girl to that of a head-shaving, incompetent mother with deep-seeded emotional problems. The pop princess has become the dowager tabloid queen of a disillusioned and decadent Hollywood. Like many of the celebrities that roam the streets of Beverly Hills and West L.A. today, Britney has gone through the customary failed marriages, rehab stints, car accidents, mental breakdowns, and media-bashings. She has estranged both her family and her fans, and maintains a lifestyle that many would deem unfit for a mother of two.
Interestingly, Britney Spears seems to be at the height of her career — albeit her success seems to be largely derived from the tabloids. Her newest album, appropriately named "Blackout," has already sold over 460,000 copies according to Billboard 200 and her single "Gimme More" has topped the iTunes chart. "Gimme More" has been dubbed Britney’s highest charting single since "...Baby One More Time." Although "Blackout" has received some negatives reviews from critics (Billboard Magazine called the album "defiant like a bad drunk, uncomfortably oversexed and more at home in a seedy after-hours club than a celebrity ultra-lounge"), most of the reviews have been positive. Rolling Stone praised the album, stating that Britney’s "gonna crank the best pop booty jams until a social worker cuts off her supply of hits."
Apparently, the head-shaving ordeal, the fender benders, the unkempt children, and of course, the seriously lackluster performance at last September’s MTV Video Music Awards have done very little to diminish Britney’s popularity; in fact, she has become even more famous than she has ever been before. Being the poster child of an era in Hollywood that has produced stars who are famous for being infamous (e.g. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Ritchie), Britney Spears has cemented her position in our country’s popular culture. Clearly, infamy bodes well with Britney; the sales of her latest album attest to the Hollywood mantra that "there’s no such thing as bad publicity."
It’s been ten years since Britney first became the self-proclaimed "Miss American Dream." She’s no longer that teen idol from the nineties that captured the adoration of millions of fans, but does she still have what it takes to inspire awe and envy? In spite of her wayward decline, does she still represent what the average American dreams about? No. She’s become more of a spectacle than a dream.
America’s perception of celebrity has changed. Even at Prep, students, when asked if they’d want to be famous, gleam for a second at the thought, then readily decline; they’ve learned from Britney Spears’s mistakes. Miss American Dream has become a nightmare.