• 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.
Stars as Constructions
• In recent years, much has
been made of how
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.
• 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.
• 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
• 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.
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
• 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
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
• 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.
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.
• 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.
• 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.