BY Steve Jelbert in Profiles | 05 MAY 01
Featured in
Issue 59

Spears of Destiny

Britney's first work of fiction

BY Steve Jelbert in Profiles | 05 MAY 01

Tap the phrase 'Britney Spears nude' into Google and it offers over 100,000 possibilities, doubtless not one of them genuine. Such Internet explorers would not be interested in A Mother's Gift (2001): the first attempt at fiction by America's top virgin, penned with the assistance of her mum, a second grade teacher.

It's a predictable retelling of the Cinderella tale, but with added karaoke. Fourteen year old Holly Faye grows up in smalltown Mississippi with her single mother: a shellsuit-sporting seamstress with a disfiguring facial birthmark. But Holly can sing - show tunes, hymns, power ballads, the lot - and wins a scholarship to the prestigious Haverty School of Music in nearby Hattiesburg. In short, it runs thus: poor girl, homemade clothes, rich (yet unhappy) roomie, heroine really adopted, mom's scar incurred saving baby Holly from parent-killing fire, televised Mother's Day concert, blah blah blah, all smothered in the idiotic fried-chicken Christianity which passes for religious faith in the USA.

Clearly the book is aimed at the under-tens who make up most of Spears' audience, finely plodding a line between Oprah-approved self-help nonsense and a teenage love for Gothic twists, like that barmy youth favourite Virginia Andrews' Flowers in the Attic (1979). (If only Britney had read Wuthering Heights ...) Throw in lines like 'She is too your mom' and clueless references to 'Rose' in Titanic and America has yet another national embarrassment on its hands. Surprise.

Though Ms Spears and her ilk have been berated for encouraging pre-teens to dress like Moscow whores circa 1980, no one has considered that rather than sexualizing infants, she in fact infantilizes her own sexuality by refusing to grow up. Spears is nearly 20, an age when other people might reasonably expect to be out exploring the world or at university pretending to expand their intellectual range - not quilting with the mum who encouraged her to hoof and grin for ten years without a break.

Britney is a freak, damn it, as peculiar as (if less hideous and interesting than) Michael Jackson. I mean, her pregnant mother dragged the young Britney thousands of miles on auditions, even sacrificing the home-town life so lovingly, and hypocritically, eulogized here. This idiotic book is all she gets in return? If, in 20 years time, Spears Jr. attempts a Carrie Fisher-style work of fiction then it might be interesting. Until then, stick with the videos - they are much better.