Woman on the moonBy Wade Kwon
Britney Spears isnâ€™t in trouble. Sheâ€™s not an alcoholic, nor a bad mother.
Sheâ€™s a genius. A certified, certifiable genius.
What makes her a genius? Simply put, she is an Artist, a not merely a pop singer artist, but an Artist of the Ages.
She is our Andy Kaufman, our Yoko Ono. She blesses us with performance pieces to provoke, to shock, to expand our collective conscience.
Kaufman gave us Latka, Tony Clifton and intergender wrestling. Ono gave us â€œCut Piece,â€ experimental music and post-Beatlesism.
Few understood or appreciated such visionaries during their lifetimes. Such is the fate of Britney, an innovator who tweaks societyâ€™s notions of art, propriety and boundaries.
Sure, she can sing and dance. Sure, sheâ€™s a busty blond bombshell. Thatâ€™s the setup.
Shaving her head causes gossip rags and sites to go beyond alarmist. Driving with a baby in her lap brings out widespread scoldings. Even chewing gum on â€œLettermanâ€ stirs the pot.
Brava, Britney, brava. What others consider shameless idiocy is quite the opposite, a series of grand spoofs on the nature of expression. Her image and her offspring are the canvas for her brash sendup of celebrity culture.
Maybe sheâ€™s in rehab receiving treatment for alcohol addiction. Maybe sheâ€™s hiding out, having a good laugh at her latest triumph.
Britney isnâ€™t cold and calculating like Paris Hilton. Sheâ€™s not a serious actress like Mandy Moore or even Lindsay Lohan.
She remains a misunderstood yet savvy performer in a 21st-century new media whirlwind.
Her critics and her public will recognize that someday, but sadly, those accolades will be posthumous. The depth of her work will be plumbed only after she is gone, sometime in 2009.