The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Britney gets into baiters’ zone
- What’s hinduism' asks pop idol

So pop-tart Britney Spears says she’s abandoning her teen fan base for older listeners. This will come as a great relief to the grown-ups who, not to put too fine a point on it, hate Britney, who just released her fourth CD, In the Zone.

Google on “Britney hater” and you get 9,000 hits. Go to the CNN website and learn, from a Quick Vote poll earlier this month, that one out of three visitors enjoys Britney while the rest say she’s either “living off her past glory” or is “about ready for the ‘Where Are You Now’ file.”

Karen Kreutzberg, a navy commander with an 11-year-old daughter, Kara, tries to be polite by calling Spears “lightweight,” then adds: “Don’t get me started.”

Britney rage isn’t confined to custodians of the cradle, but there were a lot of parents silently cheering when they heard that Maryland’s First Lady, Kendel Ehrlich, pumped up a crowd last month by saying: “If I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would.”

Maybe moms are jealous that at 21 Britney looks better in boy briefs than they do or ever did. But it’s more than that. You don’t hear the same comments about hotties like J. Lo or Xtina (otherwise known as Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera. At least Britney has kept a full name — so far).

Over the five years of her pop career, Britney has come to epitomise the widespread belief that there’s something rotten in girl culture, something that tells girls that their bodies, not their brains, are the means to power and success, especially if they’re wrapped in skintight pants that stop just above the pubic bone.

Britney popularised the slut strut in music videos assembled by a former porn director and single-handedly wiped out the Spice Girls. Short skirts became known as “Britney skirts.” Young girls grabbed Teen People off the newsstands when Britney was on the cover, packed Britney look-alike contests and Britney concerts.

Girls, especially pre-pubescent girls, want desperately to grow up. Britney gave them a way to do that. At the tender ages of 8, 9 and 10 they became thong feminists singing that they would do whatever it takes to snag a man. This drove older, pantsuit feminists crazy.

Did we work our way into America’s boardrooms for this, the pantsuits asked.

Every quote that came out of Britney’s mouth confirmed their impression that she was a lightweight. “I like lighthearted, girl-flick, love-story movies,” she told the Associated Press. “It’s easy to watch, not that deep.”

Newsweek quotes Britney saying she’s “been into a lot of Indian spiritual religions.” Is Hinduism one of them' She replies: “What's that' Is it like Kabbalah'”

She told the German magazine Cinema that heaven is a place where “everyone is at peace and happy, and they all hop around from cloud to cloud.”

She told the London Mirror: “I don’t like my fingernails, I don’t like my feet, I don’t like my nose ... I do like my lips.” Why' Because her then-boyfriend — singer Justin Timberlake — “says he likes my lips.”

Some Britney haters feel betrayed because they took the pop icon at face value. They watched her grow up, starting out at 12 as a Mouseketeer. She sang in the choir at First Baptist Church in her home town of Kentwood, Long Island, and at 16 she launched her first CD, Baby One More Time, wearing a Catholic school uniform on the accompanying video. Her blond, girl-next-door looks won her acclaim as the country’s prom queen in national magazines.

When she started revving up the sexpot image it was all right, at first, because she claimed to be a virgin. “I’m a not girl, not yet a woman,” she sang.

Then it came to light that she had given up her virginity while pretending she hadn’t, and Britney haters really came out of the closet. She was losing her voice, they said.

That’s why she lip-synced all her concerts. Her voice was digitally processed, they said, her dancing not as fluid as it was when she was younger.

“The old Britney was really fun,” remembers Kreutzberg, who lives in Bethesda, Maryland. “Innocence was a part of it. Her choreography was new and fresh; she was kind of an original. But in the ensuing years, she’s become cheap. If you’re promoting yourself only from the sexual angle, you’re missing a whole life.”

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