In her Top 10 hit ". . . Baby, One More Time," Britney Spears posits the song’s persona as a passive naïf. Continual references to blindness and hitting metamorphose the song from a teen-targeted summer pop tune into ideology enslaving young women into dangerous, constrictive views of relationships--and themselves. Using feminist and Lacanian theory allows us to see the speaker’s entrance into the Symbolic and the problems thereof.
The speaker rues over a terminated "love" affair. She (although arguable, this critic finds the speaker’s notion of and adherence to gender roles distinctly "female") supplicates for a "sign" of his (again, heterosexuality is an assumption made for the sake of discussion) persevering proclivity. This sign is to come in the form of a "hit." References to the speaker’s death ("killing me") are frequent, as are other indications of mistreatment.
The speaker begins addressing "baby," her lover. She claims ignorance of the troubled relationship, thus displaying her quiescent predisposition: "how was I supposed to know / that somethin’ wasn’t right here." Because of her passivity, she appears as an innocent victim. The poor, helpless speaker is not to be blamed for anything. One might picture a little girl shrugging her shoulders and asking, "what could I do?" when caught eating a whole cake. This denial of responsibility is commonly seen on The Jerry Springer Show when someone maintains, "I didn’t mean to have an affair. It just happened." Placing the locus of control outside oneself causes one to naturally become a victim.
Yet the speaker seems apprehensive in her inveterate paralyzed role. She pro...
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...song might create? By attempting to erase the "hit me," someone tried to cover up the overtones of violence. Yet simply changing the title cannot efface the masochism and vapidity of the song’s speaker.
The speaker’s complete yield of self to a potentially abusive lover is deleterious for teens still forming an identity, especially those seeking guidance and advice about sexual relationships. The effects of Spears’ song remain to be seen; yet this critic feels that the message sent is a harrowing one. The speaker’s recognition of self-worth cannot eventuate too quickly.
Haywood, Susan. Key Concepts in Cinema Studies. Routledge: London, 1996.
Spears, Britney. ". . . Baby, One More Time." . . .Baby, One More Time. Audio CD. BMG: 1999.
Lacan, Jacques. Ecrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. Tavistock: London, 1977.
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