The problem with ascribing any sort of deeper meaning to Britney’s various songs about living life in the public eye is the same as attempting to ascribe any authorial intent to her discography, as she didn’t write most of it. (This does excuse her from any responsibility for demonstrative pronoun errors in her lyrics, though.) It is not entirely inaccurate to say that she didn’t create much of any of her art, as her voice is frequently autotuned, and she is notorious for lip-synching in concerts. Many people seem to think of her as merely an avatar for a kind of plastic sexuality, and they are both confused and annoyed when forced to realize that there is a real person inhabiting it. Her annus horribilus of 2007 brought this disconnect to the forefront, and while her production team has done their best to exploit it to her benefit, there’s still a queasy undertone to hearing her sing supposedly deeply self-aware and autobiographical songs like "Piece of Me" while realizing that she had no part in creating them.
But Britney did write one of her big hits, and it’s the one featured in its entirety in Spring Breakers: "Everytime". Moreover, it is unquestionably autobiographical, written in the aftermath of Britney’s infamous breakup with Justin Timberlake and his "Cry Me a River" video. Even if it’s a carefully stage-managed attempt to leverage celebrity gossip into chart placement, it’s still notable for being one of the small pieces of Britney’s life that she voluntarily shared with her audience on her own terms. While the lyrics reveal some interesting visual imagery and Mulveyian perspective-shifting, a close reading is probably overreaching, as Korine tends to go for a more elliptical approach. (That, and Britney needed a co-author to write verses like “I may have made it rain/Please forgive me/My weakness caused you pain/And this song is my sorry.”)
The video is one of Britney’s few that is narrative-based as opposed to taking place in a fantasy dance space. Furthermore, Britney actually had a hand in creating it, though it didn’t achieve quite the maudlin depths that she was aiming for. (It was originally going to involve Britney’s character committing suicide, but the public outcry—ironically—convinced her label to go for reincarnation instead.) It also portrays her fans, the paparazzi, and her romantic partner as acting in a similarly aggressive and abusive fashion. It isn’t her first video about the complications of fame—that would be the profoundly-eerie-in-retrospect "Lucky"—but it’s the first to present being hounded by fans and paparazzi as a uniformly horrific experience. In fact, if the lyrics are taken literally in the context of the video, it’s less a song about begging forgiveness from a former love, as her boyfriend (hi, Stephen Dorff!) is right there, shoving her and throwing things at her, and more about the symbiotic relationship between a celebrity and her fans. Mostly, though, it’s about being constantly scrutinized and what happens when scrutiny is abruptly replaced by privacy. Spoiler: Britney dies. Bentham and Foucault would no doubt be delighted. Double spoiler: it was all a dream.
While the song makes for a hilariously jarring background soundtrack to the Candy/Cotty/Brit/Alien rampage—entirely in keeping with the rest of the movie’s contrast between pretty girly stuff and grimy violence—it also carries with it a whole carousel worth of baggage about the perils of fame for young women and meta-attempts to control one’s image. It is indeed sweet, but I’m not sure how inspiring it really is.
"You know, a long time ago people would say a good ass should be felt and not seen…"
"And its true…"
A #SpaceDandy tribute to a good P.U.P. … Good speed, Baby!!
The Good The Bad The Weird, 2012