Some kind of monster

I have no idea how this happened. The sheer ludicrous-y of it haunts me to the core. Britney Spears has somehow–amid an obvious psychological, emotional and physical breakdown–released a new album.

I have no idea how this happened. The sheer ludicrous-y of it haunts me to the core. Britney Spears has somehow–amid an obvious psychological, emotional and physical breakdown–released a new album.

A new album that is (for good reason) climbing the charts quickly. A new album that is, despite one’s better judgment, repeatedly getting played on the iPod.

Yes, the Blackout album is a warm Pabst Blue Ribbon on a cold, cold day. It’s trashy, yet so good.

But how is it possible, one has to ask, that a woman who can’t even seem to put pants on is able to so intensely capture the attention of the world and the music industry when she should probably be capturing the attention of a good psychologist? Why are people supporting her drug habits through album sales? Why do we still want to see her on the covers of magazines? And why the hell did she get to open the VMAs recently?

Because Britney Spears is an enigma, a widely known, over-sexualized enigma. We love to hate her, and hate to love her.

Over the last few years, fans have watched religiously as she has slowly destroyed herself. The damage list is endless: She married the world’s biggest Eminem wannabe; literally ran around pregnant and barefooted; divorced the world’s biggest Eminem wannabe; apparently decided she no longer wanted the children she produced; checked in, out and back into rehab; shaved off all of hair; passed out, vomited and stripped in public; sported a broke-ass weave; hit paparazzi with umbrellas; ran over paparazzi with cars; divorced her mother; slept with half of the d-listers in the world; and danced intoxicated on MTV. She just plain went crazy.

Britney is impossible not to watch, difficult not to discuss and even harder not to hate. The bitch has millions of dollars, until recently a stomach to envy, and at one point slept with every 15-year-old girl’s biggest crush. But she just can’t seem to keep her shit together.

Most of us have never slept with Justin Timberlake, don’t have millions of seemingly uncapped dollars, and only have a six-pack in the fridge, yet are perfectly able to put on shoes, keep our hair on our head, and give at least a half-ass attempt to rear our offspring.

Yet, it is pretty sad if one was to sit down and think about it. Ms. Spears is a ridiculously spoiled person, but she is still a person. A person who despite appearing in every magazine at the checkout line and having access to a personal jet is obviously-and very seriously-mentally ill.

Why do we collectively hate someone so much, who obviously needs so much help? Because we are supposed to.

She has been built, through clever managers, handlers and Photoshop, to invoke emotion. She is a recording artist, yet her voice has always been secondary to her public persona. Britney Spears is a not a musician; she is a commodity: the representation of over-fantasized sex.

On screen she is supposed to tantalize, and seduce. Off screen she has been taught (and until recently strived) to revoke the very image that made her famous and appear demure and lovable. She danced in a schoolgirl uniform, begging to be hit one more time, while announcing that she believed in abstinence.

She sang songs about masturbation, and then, when confronted about the lyrics (“I’m into myself at my most precious place“) in an interview with Diane Sawyer, she denied any sexual connotation to the words. She pleads to be left alone, yet invites paparazzi with her when she delivers a restraining order to her mother.

We hate her because she represents everything we are told to despise in our prudish, puritan-formed culture: sex and promiscuity. We love her because she represents all the things we secretly love in our prudish, puritan-formed culture: sex and promiscuity.

We watch her because she is a train wreck. We forget that she is a real person because she tries to convince us so intensely that she is real, that it seems fake.

Her new album barely features a single chorus of non-synthesized voice; most of the songs are about sex, and it defiantly lacks the high-dollar refinement of albums past. But the beats are strong, and the lyrics are catchy as hell–and more poignant than they have ever been (“I’m Miss American Dream, since I was seventeen / You want a piece of me? / I’m a lush / Exchanged my vows and said it all“).

And it will continue to sell and get radio play, and writers for college newspapers will still secretly listen to it between Stephen Stills and Paul Simon on their iPods. Because Britney Spears is doing exactly was she is supposed to: sucking us in. Too bad she seems to have sucked herself in during the process.

Having your whole life desperately depend on public opinion, your self-worth wrapped up in a poster of yourself on a horny teenager’s wall, it’s no wonder she has lost her fucking mind.

So help a girl out (because we made her this way). Download “Radar” and “Piece of Me” from the new CD (you know you want to), though do skip “Toy Solider” and “Hot as Ice.”

Never tell your friends. Support Britney (even her drug addictions) because she is our own American sex-symbol. And when it comes right down to it, we’re the ones who asked for her to become what she is.

Editor’s note: The last paragraph of this story differs from the print edition due to an editing error.