Britney Spears: Hardworking, Sexy Mom

The hardworking Britney Spears (www.eonline.com)

The hardworking Britney Spears (www.eonline.com)

Britney Spears can still surprise us. Last week, she released the video for her latest song, “Work B**ch,” and there were two striking things: the song’s lyrics, which celebrate hard work, and her public discussion of her sexy image, now that she’s also a mother.

“Work B**ch” is presumably intended to be a Saturday night party song, and yet, the song’s message is all about the importance of working hard. When did industriousness become cool?

Britney sings, “You wanna live fancy? Live in a big mansion? Party in France? You better work bitch, you better work bitch.” The language could be cleaned up, but the message is appealing. It’s also reminiscent of Ashton Kutcher’s recent speech at the Teen Choice Awards when he told America’s teenagers: “opportunity looks a lot like hard work.”

At this point though, Britney and Ashton clearly diverge. Ashton also told his teen audience that the sexiest thing is “being really smart,” thoughtful, and generous, while for Britney, sexy is more narrowly about being scantily clad and gyrating for the camera. “A lot of sex goes into what I do,” Britney recently acknowledged on a Boston radio show.

That is undoubtedly true, but is there a point when the sexiness simply becomes too much? Interestingly, even Britney Spears has such a point.

In that same Boston radio interview she told the DJ, “We showed way more skin and did way more stuff for the video than what is actually there. Like, I cut out half the video because I am a mother and because, you know, I have children, and it’s just hard to play sexy mom while you’re being a pop star as well.”

That is quite a conundrum. It’s one thing to be sexy and adult around your husband or boyfriend. It’s another when you’re “sex-dripping” on screens nationwide and your sons can watch the video played on a never-ending loop. Does Britney think her seven and eight year old sons will learn positive lessons about women, including how women should be viewed and treated, by watching this video? Does she care if what they learn is that all women, including their own mother, should be sexually objectified?

Most of us modify our behavior to shield our children from seeing or hearing things we know are too mature for them. It sounds like Britney believes she did this in the editing process, though many parents are unlikely to want their young children watching even the edited version, and the British have already banned the video from television until 10pm.

Is she proud of the new video? It sounds like Britney wishes she had – or could have – gone farther. She admitted to the Boston audience, “Sometimes I would like to bring it back to the old days when . . . you’re dancing the whole video, and there’s like not that much sex stuff going on. It’s about the dance and it’s about being old school . . . I’d love to do a video like that.” I, for one, would have liked to see that, and her sons might have too.

According to video director Ben Mor, “Britney’s in control of every aspect of the video.” So, why didn’t she make her video all about dancing?

Britney’s a great dancer and a strong performer. Does she not believe that? She must think she needs to strut about barely dressed for us to pay attention to her music. Even if Britney believes that’s the reality of the music industry, she’s already an established name. Why doesn’t she push back, making videos that focus attention on her dancing and lyrics, in other words, her talent? Displaying the courage to be a strong and protective mom? Now, that’d be sexy.

This article appeared in Acculturated.

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