Star theory - Britney Spears

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Star theory - Britney Spears

  1. 1. Star Theory Britney Spears
  2. 2. Introduction • In the modern world of music, it’s difficult to find a better example of a modern star than Britney Spears. • After releasing her first single in 1998, she has evolved throughout her career in order to try and fit in with what a modern pop-star is seen as. • Many people say this has been taken out of her control, and an artificial image has been created for her in order to keep her relevant, a theory which there is a lot of evidence to support.
  3. 3. Stars as Constructions • In recent years, much has been made of how manufactured Britney’s persona has become, and the hugely visible differences between the person shown in her music videos and the person in real life. • The best way to see the way her persona has been constructed for her is to look at her music videos from each of her eight studio albums and the influences within them.
  4. 4. Albums 1-4 • Her first single was ‘Baby One More Time’, which remains one of Britney’s most successful singles now. In the video she is shown to be innocent, as the video is set in a school and the scenes within the video are fine for almost all ages to watch. This is to fit in with her Disney image, and to attract the younger generation whom were her initial target audience. She has since said that a lot of ideas within the video came from her, including the iconic rolled-up schoolgirl outfit and the dance routines, showing that at that point she still had a lot of control over her image. • When you move to the next album, changes are already apparent. As she was thrown into the spotlight the general media declared her a sex symbol, and there are obvious moves within the ‘Oops I Did It Again’ to take advantage of that. She is wearing a skintight red catsuit, and the storyline of the video makes her seem more adventurous than the lovesick Britney from album 1. • Album 3 and the ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’ video is where the real chances occur. The sensual mood of the video and the much more sexualised image was all part of the aim of making Britney more accessible to adults and even more well-known. This is where the ‘Sexy Britney’ image was created, a theme which has become her USP. For years, she was the artist who dared more than any other, and became an international superstar because of it. It also marks the true start of Britney Spears as a construction, rather than her true image. • Widely seen as the high-point of her career, Britney’s 4th album came with a music video for ‘Toxic’, now seen as her signature song. In the video she is seen using her ‘sexy’ persona to attract men and use them to her advantage. Released soon after the end of her high-profile relationship with Justin Timberlake, this was seen as a statement of intent from Britney, that she was the best at doing what she did. At this point it still wasn’t clear just how manufactured she was, but after this release it all became more obvious.
  5. 5. Albums 5-8 • Between the release of her 4th and 5th albums, Britney suffered a mental breakdown due to multiple stressors, including the constant publicity around her, and her career was seen to be finished as people couldn’t look up to her anymore. In the video for ‘Gimme More’ there are the first signs of her personal life affecting her overall image, as the one clean-cut Britney was no poledancing. At this point in her career Britney had almost become a joke, so her image became even more constructed in order to try and hide the mess she was living in. • The next landmark video in her collection was for ‘3’, the song that was seen by most as a long awaited comeback for Britney. In the video she looks much more involved, and critics pointed out that it looked like she was finally getting back to her high point that she was at when she released ‘Toxic’. However, despite all this there was still an obvious difference between the Britney we saw in music videos and the Britney we saw in real life. As real Britney settled down and began to become a serious mother, music video Britney was still performing raunchy routines and showing off her body, creating a bad taste in people’s mouths when they realized just how constructed her image was. • In order to fight against this backlash, her image was changed again, this time to become more self-aware. Her commercialism was no longer hidden from casual viewers, as shown in the video for ‘Hold It Against Me’. There are plenty of self-references within the video which are meant to be like an inside joke to all of her long-standing fans, including wearing a wedding dress (a reference to her multiple failed marriages), having what looks a lot like a breakdown when she is surrounded by cameras, and fighting with another version of herself (to signify her breakdown). • This obvious commercialism continues into her current work, shown in the video for ‘Work Bitch’. The entire video is basically one long advert for her Las Vegas residency, including dance scenes in the Nevada desert and multiple flashes of the neon signs. This shows that she no longer has any control over her own image, making her a complete construction as controlled by the recording label.
  6. 6. Industry and Audience • Britney has been shown to clearly change her image depending on what the public perception of her is, which an obvious sign of trying to keep her star level as high as possible. • There aren’t many more obvious examples of a star having their image being controlled by a record company than Britney, as the image we see in her music videos is drastically different from the one we see in paparazzi photos.
  7. 7. Ideology and Culture • Britney is very careful with the image that she gives out to the public, and she is often regarded as taking the safe route as far as hot topics are concerned. In particular, she is seen as a leader in the fight for gay rights, however, she actually made no mention of her beliefs on this topic until other stars like Lady Gaga suddenly made it something stars could openly talk about. • In the first few years of her career Britney was seen as a good role model or the public, however as he got older and her image became more sexualised, she moved from being the safe option to becoming more of a risqué act.
  8. 8. Character and Personality • Britney’s character and personality was always something which was hidden in her early releases, as at the time it was enough for people to think of her as the Disney starlet that she was seen as. However, after her breakdown the paparazzi began to unveil a completely different Britney that no one had seen before. • Throughout her career she has also had a large focus on her figure. As she is seen as a sex symbol, any gain or loss of weight is heavily scrutinised, as is her image as a whole. There is no better example of this than when she shaved off all her hair at the low point of her breakdown, because it was possibly the most heavily publicised moment of her career to date, and all because it revolved in a supposed loss of beauty.
  9. 9. Cultural Hegemony • The theory of hegemony does have a slight influence over Britney’s career, as her original image has been changed to fit the needs of the record company, and as a result it influences all of her fans who are made to aspire to be like her. • Britney is from the south of America, and her initial image was a lot more casual than how she was presented when she became a breakout star. Gone were the relaxed looks and loose-fitting clothes, and in came the skin-baring ensembles that made her look more out of reach to the average modern human. This in turn made people want to try and become Britney, and this meant that the record label had control over how the fans wanted to act.
  10. 10. Gender Representation • At the start of Britney’s career, she was shown as the typical teenage girl. Natural looking, so that boys could aspire to actually be with her and girls could aspire to be her, but not showing too much skin. • When her career evolved so did her gender representation, as she began to set the standard for other females to show off as much skin as possible. This was to show her supposed transition from a girl to a woman, and therefore began seen as the proper way for any girl to show that she was grown up.

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