Britney Spears is 34 years old. That’s the same age Madonna was when she inflicted her pornographic pop opus Erotica upon the world in 1992. It would only be fitting for Britney, an American icon who was once regarded as a potential successor to Madonna, to now explore the complexities of adult sexuality.
I don’t mean the petty posturing of Miley Cyrus sucking on a soother, or any of the other, faintly pedophilic bombshells of provocation the music industry uses to sell concert tickets. I mean something that popular culture has given up on, because the hectoring hordes of social justice raise hell any time an artist these days dares to approach the big issues with complexity, or subtlety, or any other message that isn’t, “Men suck and are all rapists!” I’m looking at you, Rihanna.
In Britney’s latest single, “Make Me… (Ooh)”, a trip-hop dreamscape about her quest for a dope a.f. orgasm, she expresses her desire for a man at his most primal. She wants him to take her like he can’t control himself, “like it ain’t a choice for you,” like a beast in the woods acting on some primal instinct. Like it ain’t a choice. A grown woman in 2016 making a public request for sex without consent? Whatever will the neighbours think?
Perhaps she has been going through my texts with Atlanta escorts. Either way, this could be the most subversive pop song since Erotica, all of which makes rumours that the video for this track was thrown out and replaced with a social-justice approved version that depicted Britney as a warrior princess, stripped of her yearning for a strong man, very troubling.
Only nine weeks ago, Britney posted a picture to her Instagram in an S&M harness surrounded by sweaty men, with the caption: “Day one: ✔️.” She was hinting that she had just shot a music video. Later that week, E! News teased a clip of her on set. It was announced that David LaChapelle would be shooting it: “Expect to see lots of skin.”
A month later, a clip leaked on a seedy Asian website. It’s blurry. It feels almost mythological. Like it was taken over the shoulder of an RCA executive while he was at lunch. It shows Spears in a dungeon doing the moves that made her famous with a harem of jacked dudes. She’s pounded by one of them. It’s degrading. And she’s loving every second of it.
She’s also the one in control. These are the same dirty bondage tricks that Madonna and, later, Christina Aguilera have used. They work because they tap into something visceral: a need to be dominated.
This week, Britney posted a clip on her Instagram to the effect that the “Make Me… (Ooh)” video was available to watch on VEVO. But there was something wrong. Fans immediately noticed that this was not the video that had been teased all summer. This was tame, dull, pointless. In other words, it was third-wave feminist-friendly.
Gone is the nude Britney being closely gyrated on for a full three seconds; she has been replaced by men debasing themselves for her and her friends’ amusement. (It’s unlikely to be a coincidence that so many of her “friends” in the video aren’t white.)
Rumours are floating around now that RCA pulled the original for being “too racy,” as though that has ever before been a problem for the music executives who put out Britney Spears records. On 2003’s “Showdown,” Britney says, “And when you come, don’t get too hot… butterfly.” She was born to tease and be teased.
Adults are not teenagers. We know what we want. We also know that sex, like life, is messy and complicated, and there aren’t always morally straightforward answers. Art is supposed to help us navigate the big questions, and no genre touches more people than pop music, which is why Madonna is so justly highly regarded.
If you are in your 30s and you still don’t know how to ask — or manipulate — someone into participating in whatever gets you off, there’s little hope for you. I’ve known for some time that my thing is getting gagged and choked in public places by the nearest African-American in a Donald Trump mask and I intend to concoct that scenario as many times as possible before my inevitable assassination at the hands of marauding lesbian feminists.
Millennials, whose generation is responsible for the cancer of third-wave feminism and who champion outrage-as-argument and the dual cults of victimhood and grievance, have no clue what they want because they have such little sex. And because they have such little sexual experience to go on compared to previous generations, they have developed an entire therapy industry designed to police the sex lives of others with moral panics about “consent.” You see this at work in the pages of Gawker, Mic, Buzzfeed and Vox.
These days we’re constantly told by hand-wringing media critics works of art are “problematic,” as though that were a bad thing, rather than the entire purpose of them. Art, like college, is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable. If it doesn’t, it’s not art or education: it’s therapy.
So two-dimensional is the prism through which the social justice cult views culture, we’re now expected to believe that any depiction of rape is a de facto endorsement of it and any depiction of a a woman that is not a flat, girl-power caricature is “sexist.”
Such lunacy and ignorance robs women — and everyone else — of the power that comes with being the passive partner. As Camille Paglia taught us in the 90s, it has always been women who controlled the sexual calculus. It’s the sub who has the safe word; the bitch who can make everything stop in an instant.
The funny thing is, every hardcore feminist I’ve ever looked into closely has a pretty hardcore sex life. It’s not always the healthiest or most well-adjusted people who want to police everyone else. But credulous journalists are happy to repeat insinuation and spin from hypocritical gender activists because, I dunno, they’re sticking up for women or something.
We don’t know for sure what RCA is thinking. It’s possible, of course, that after the fan outcry they will release the LaChapelle video anyway. But this controversy bears all the hallmarks of social justice tampering. And, if that’s the case, shouldn’t we be worried? If megastars are being forced to sanitise themselves to satiate professional pearl-clutchers, that’s far more offensive in my eyes than anything we’ve seen from the original video.
Is there something wrong with a woman in her 30s who desires a man more powerful than her, and who sees him as the only one who can give her what she wants? Is it so shocking to the delicate sensibilities of these wannabe music critics with which modern American journalism is infected to see a woman who — whisper it! — might want to be degraded? Might even find it empowering? Should we just pretend this side of human nature and sexuality doesn’t exist, when we all know it does?
Whatever happened to female “agency,” or is that restricted to miserable, unappealing chicks shooting ghosts in the nads with proton packs? If a woman chooses to be dominated, surely she’s merely exercising her potent sexual agency? The regressive left is as keen to rob women of their right to choose as radical Islam is, it seems.
I mean, I get it. Third-wave feminists probably thought they had an ally in Britney when she went through her “psycho freakout” phase, buzzing her hair off for attention. I’ve run into the same look on college campuses. Spears’s return to sexuality must have seemed like a betrayal to the sex-negative nunnery of the American left, and we know how they treat those that betray them.
Social justice is protracted self-harm: the product of kids who should have been slashing at themselves but who were instead worrying about climate change and microaggressions. And although sympathy for its excesses is waning among the public, it still has the power to interfere with things that matter. We ought to resist that power. Women and men alike, to say nothing of the gays, want the Britney Spears we know and deserve.