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Britney, authenticity and Coldplay: News, culture and Gen Y

November 5th, 2003 · 2 Comments

Sex appeal is to Britney Spears what special effects are to “The Matrix.”
Bringing Up Britney

Well, since I’ve already written about The Matrix tonight, I might as well write about Britney. Pop culture night here at Seedlings and Sprouts. I confess I don’t know much about her at all – not sure I could hum one of her songs. Probably all I know about her is what I’ve seen on tabloids while in line at the grocery store.

But I saw this article Bringing Up Britney posted on MSN.com last week and, curious about the cultural icon and symbol she has become, I read it. The story affected me. It disturbed me. Afterwards, I felt sad for Britney. She’s 21 now, an adult in every way, and responsible for who she is and what she does. And she may be a “ditz” with dumb answers, although the writer sees her more as a child The most unrehearsed moments are slightly sad—revealing a strangely cloistered kid who seems to have spent way too much time performing and not enough time living.
Perhaps it was just the author’s perspective on Britney, but as I read it, I began to wonder why her parents didn’t protect her. In contrast to her role model, Madonna, who twenty years ago seemed so street-wise and aware of what she was buying and selling with her body, at least in this article, it seems that Britney is being exploited, an object of lust and leering, unaware of the path she’s naively walking. She’s hurt and used, at the ripe age of 21. I wonder why her parents, especially her father, at least years ago when she was 16, 17, 18 didn’t protect her more. She’s old enough now to do what she pleases, but where were her parents in the past? Why didn’t they teach her more about dignity? And why is she doing things that she says she wouldn’t want her own kid doing at 21? How sad to see.

If I was discouraged reading about Britney, I felt encouraged reading John Leo’s essay The good news generation I’m not sure how easy it is to draw clear lines between generations, but I appreciate the optimistic outlook on the Millenials, born between 1978 and 1994. …Ann Clurman of the Yankelovich Partners, suggests “authenticity, authorship, and autonomy” as the three nouns for the emerging millennials, also known as generation Y or the “echo boomers….They are family oriented, viscerally pluralistic, deeply committed to authenticity and truth-telling, heavily stressed, and living in a no-boundaries world where they make short-term decisions and expect paradoxical outcomes.

They have better relationships with parents than Xers, and they want families in the future: The yearning for a good marriage is a dominant value among millennials, Clurman says, and 30 percent of those surveyed say they want three or more children.
Ah, sounds like I’ll be able to pass some advice on to this next generation! I wonder how many Xers have three children?! Probably not 30%.

A discussion of Y wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Britney…
The millennial affection for the authentic over the glitzy marketing product is marked by the rise of Avril Lavigne, “an ordinary looking, midriff-free, nondancing singer hailed as the anti-Britney,” reports Brandchannel.com.

As an Xer, (“diversity, savvy, pragmatism”) I’m happy to hear that those behind me are being blessed with a desire for authenticity, integrity and family. I’m not sure that everything is so rosy for the Millenials, but I am hopeful after reading this essay. Like Leo, I have a mixed family, with boomer parents and siblings from both X and Y generations. It’s easy to sense and see the gaps. And I guess my children will belong to Z, or whatever generation follows Y(?!).

On a final pop culture note, I picked up Coldplay’s latest CD, A Rush of Blood to the Head, at the library. Just curious: my half-sister likes them and I had already heard about them when I became a fan of Lifehouse. Although the lyrics aren’t in the liner notes, I found them on the web . Unlike much pop music, I find this refreshing in its honesty and simplicity. The music speaks to me of these Y values of authenticity and relationship. Even the sound is simple, not a lot of synthesizer or mixing. So far I like it a lot.

Honey you are a rock
Upon which I stand
And I come here to talk
I hope you understand
“Green Eyes”

When the truth is
I miss you
Yeah the truth is
That I miss you so
“A Whisper”

Tags: culture

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gordon Weakliem // Nov 6, 2003 at 11:38 am

    Lorraine Ali (the author of the Newsweek piece), either has a great flair for irony or exhibits exactly the same sort of innocent crassness she sees in her subject. I love how she wrote this with an (apparently) straight face: “Kendel Ehrlich, wife of Maryland’s governor, recently told an audience at a conference against domestic violence that she would shoot [Britney] Spears if she had a gun.” I had to reread that twice and I nearly missed her cute line later: “For Spears, freedom is sometimes just another word for nothing left to lose.”

  • 2 Julie // Nov 8, 2003 at 2:51 pm

    Yeah, the tone of the article did make me question what was written. But I think my concerns are still true.

    I’ve gotten behind on news and I wasn’t familiar with what Kendel Ehrlich said – here’s CNN’s report on that ironic incident…