”Britney and Kevin”: Career suicide by videocam
Here’s all you need to know about the real Britney Spears that she was so intent to reveal to the world on her new reality show, Britney and Kevin: Chaotic. At one point, after seeing paparazzi outside her window, she declares — with what she intends to be knowing bravado — ”People can take anything away from you, but they can’t take your truth. Can you handle my truth?”
And then she swings the camera around to the makeup table in front of her and squeals, ”I got pretty glitter over there!”
Yeah, Britney, I think we can handle your truth.
The truth is not only that she’s vapid, but that she’s self-obsessed to a dangerous degree. Considering the sheer number of celebrity-based reality shows that have popped up since The Osbournes, I had assumed that no new heights of narcissistic exhibitionism could be reached. But oh how wrong I was. This show makes Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s home video look coy.
Us magazine has a regular feature called ”Stars: They’re Just Like Us.” This show could be called ”Stars: They’re Just Like You, Except Nowhere Near As Smart, But They’ve Got So Much Money It Doesn’t Matter, So Just Sit There and Hate Your Hard-Working Life As They Spend Twice Your Weekly Paycheck on a Solid-Gold Key Chain That They’ll Leave in a Bathroom the Next Day and Forget They Ever Bought.”
What reaction did Britney expect from this solid hour of yammering and mugging into a jiggly camera? She says she’s tired of the tabloids explaining her, so instead, here’s the ”real” story she gives us: that she’s a pampered celebrity surrounded by sycophants whom she can’t bear to film for longer than 30 seconds without whipping the camera around back to herself, the true star. Oh, and that her love for Kevin is the classic fairy tale: Man meets woman in VIP area of club, woman summons unemployed, undershirt-wearing man to her European tour, woman bangs man three times in one day and gets a TV show to tell the world. Gosh, it’s just like Snow White, only instead of the prince waking Snow White up with a kiss, he gives her beard burn. At one point, Britney drives while listening to the Peggy Lee song ”Is That All There Is?” Oddly, I had been humming the same song for the whole hour.
There are so many intersecting things wrong on this show and with Britney that I can’t possibly prioritize them. I can’t say that the sheer narcissism is the main problem, since that may be a byproduct of the overwhelming stupidity showcased here. Which came first, the chicken or the moron?
Let’s take the moment when she focused the camera on her knees and said, ”They look just like boobs. But they’re not. They’re my knees!” and then shrieked with laughter. One wonders, what about this intensely banal moment made her tell her editors to include it in the show? You could start by blaming an askew perspective conditioned by a short lifetime spent surrounded by parasitic giggling hairstylists and publicists to whom she only has to say, ”Milk, milk, lemonade, round the corner, fudge is made,” and they’ll crap their pants laughing.
And yet, Tom Hanks probably gets his ass kissed wherever he goes, but you don’t see him making a TV show where he plays the game ”Earlobes or testicles?” So, one wonders, does the inherent unfunniness of the joke itself (if it is a joke) reveal the true problem: that she’s a halfwit? It makes my head hurt to think about it, which is patently unfair because Britney never has to think about anything. (Oh, except art: Were I not too busy throwing bricks at my TV, I would have clapped with delight as she attempted to interpret a painting but ended up making it — just as she had everything else — about her. If you showed her a painting of Dali’s melting clocks, she would say, ”This one makes me cry. Time is getting all gooey because I’m late and the world is sad.”)
The through line of the show was meant to be how Britney met Kevin, and the angels sang. (Although I was a bit confused by the footage of him: In every picture I had previously seen of him during their courtship, he was a cornrow-and-trucker-hat-wearing dirtbag, while here he either had a Timberlakeian crew cut or a carefully tousled mane. Were his fashion-free days edited out, along with all mentions of the quickly dumped pregnant mother of his child and child-to-be?) And yet what Britney considers an untouchable love affair has an expiration date stamped all over it. Any time you hear someone describe true love in the exact way that Molly Ringwald did in Sixteen Candles, it’s fair to assume it won’t last.
And yet here it is, laid out on tape by Brit as if she were assuming that future generations will someday pore over it as an artifact of the Greatest Love of All, rather than the short-lived pop-culture blip that it is, the romantic equivalent of the Macarena. I have a feeling she is going to regret this show later. Does anyone remember when Barbra Streisand made that music video of her duet with her then boyfriend Don Johnson, ”Till I Loved You,” where at the end they both giggled and nuzzled a little bit? That was only three minutes long, and I’ll bet Barbra has anyone flogged who even hums that song in her presence now.
But my main question is, who is this show meant for? Aren’t young girls Britney’s main fan base? For her whole career, she has been playing a weird game where she gets onstage and humps a python while wearing outfits that come one nipple ring short of full-frontal nudity, but then gets offstage and plays the wholesome naïf as her rubber corset dries. Does she now think that because she’s 23 and married now, she no longer needs to pretend to be anything but a cigarette-puffing good-time girl who can’t wait for her next Federhump? Before doing that, she might have considered that all the parents who drive their 14-year-old daughters and sexually confused sons to her concerts might see this show and no longer want to make her their kids’ night of $80 entertainment. Instead of British arenas, Britney might find herself booking her next Onyx Hotel Tour in meeting rooms at the Holiday Inn.
What do you think? Did the show change your opinion of Britney? Is it going to hurt her career? Do you think you’ll watch again?