August 16, 2010
The actively perpetuated juxtapostions within the album are so comprehensive, it is uncanny; and it is the master product of Britney at her most core self – when she was too repose to worry about reputation, too vanguard to care about vanity, and too spun to care about spin.
The anthem of all anthems, the apocalyptic capstone:
“Hot As Ice.”
In the midst of apparent peak mania, Spears gave her sonic state of the union in the coolest of tones – and she was so sincere. Britney Spears B(etsy-R)ossed-up, and weaved an American tale as an individual talking to any American, and as the iconography talking to her makers. She recaps how we got here: I’m just a girl with the ability to drive a man crazy – but it feels alright – make him call me mama, make him my new baby – just one more time.
As she nonchalantly reminds us of her past glories, so she implies that our intellect is as contagious as her insanity – and we were the company she kept in the closest quarters. She deliberately reinforces her influence and impact, that even after she’s blacked out, it was because she was a supernova first: New and improved, I’m saying thank you very much: living legend – you can look but don’t touch.
Spears, the modern performance poet, begins her kamikaze descent on Americana by channeling – and cheapening by perceived association – Robert Frost: Cold as fire, baby hot as ice; if you’ve ever been to heaven, this is twice as nice… a far cry from – but an era-appropriate SparkNotes summized version of
“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate to say that for destruction ice is also great and would suffice.”
What she begins doing here, is what she has been accused of doing all along: ruining American culture (as the creature we created no less), unravelling the fibers that keep this flag, this brand, this image of America together. Pop and politics ride tandem though, just as the Pop empress derobed, the political powers-that-be deregulated and deconstructed the very real institutions that keep this country together – for all the world to see: cannibal Amerikanakaze. Frost melted, American Literature: down; knowledge is power when there’s no child left behind. Britney: on to the next one – “Break it down, break it down.”
She lays down what it is as we are: This ain’t no foolishness or f*ckery, I’m handling my business. Holler if you hear me; can I get a witness? Call it what you want, but call it: the business of America is business and Britney is America: we created her to be our brand ambassador, she’s our business – our Enron. Capitalism is patriotic, and the almighty dollar is divine: she’s preaching from experience. Preacher, preacher: I’m the teacher, you can learn. Watch your fingers, boy: you might get burned, the not-a-girl-not-quite-a-virgin-mother has a message: take a seat, because celebrity became the new deity – watch me do me: Hell in a handbasket.
She’s still cold as fire, baby hot as ice. If you’ve ever been to heaven, this is twice as nice: break it down, with Frost’s apocalyptic picture as the American stage. Heaven is good, but Hell is twice as nice – if only for the company; good is fine but greed is great: gimme more. As you denounced entertainment as frivolous and fickle, as you pointed to the New York Times cover – Battlefield Burma on one side and Battlefield Blacksburg on the other – you devoured the gossip and spectacle, you pored endlessly over the Kodak-snapped casualties from Battlefield Hollywood – and General Britney Jean. Traditional media credibility, substantial content: break it down; blurred lines between news and entertainment: vamp it up.
Spears looks back before looking down, and reminds us that for all the tears and all the lies, you never had more fun with anyone else in your life
As you can see, fortunately, I’m cold as fire. Yeah, make you believe; make you stop and breathe. I’ll take you higher. I’m just too cool – make it do what it do: I’m hot as ice now. Make you feel like heaven – twenty four, seven: I’m hot as ice now.
Fortunately she’s the sacrifice and salvation; fortunately, her life is our entertainment. She was our ideal, and our escape. She wore a snake on her neck, she made Toxic, she was a Mouseketeer; she was universally cool – within some capacity. She was the American Dream, the crux of divinity and humanity – she was the impossible embodied – until the beautiful balance revealed itself as a megalomaniacal delusion. Whether better or worse, she is both the fantasy and reality, as for the fourth wall between the two: break it down.