This issue reminds me of the time my mother took me to see The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Not that it has anything to do with the movie whatsoever, but I went into that movie with the benign expectation that it was a Merchant Ivorytype production. That expectation was shattered in the first few moments – no Room with a View here, just feces, viscera, and cannibalism. For the record, BRITNEY SPEARS 101 has no feces or viscera (or cannibalism), the tangential relationship here is that I was completely unprepared for this zine. Like most of western culture, I have a pre-fabricated notion of Britney Spears, thus my justifications for ignoring her. Until now. Damn you, Liz Mason.
In my opinion, people without obsessions tend to be boring. The flipside of this is that when obsessed people talk about their obsessions, they are often more interesting than their actual obsession. For example, once while traveling I felt compelled to stop at the Ava Gardner Museum. Her life, as explained at the museum, was actually rather boring. However, the museum fascinated me. Someone was obsessed enough to create an entire museum devoted to Ava Gardner. And half of you are saying, “Who the fuck is Ava Gardner?” right now. Yeah, whatever, now get off my lawn.
So Liz has taken the object of her obsession and explained what she knows about Britney Spears and how she interprets her songs and life. She shows no fear in stating her interest in Britney and the mocking, when there is some, is selfmocking.
May all hipsters hiding behind their candy-coated shells of fear-based irony be forced to read this! She treats her subject with respect. Certainly more than I have ever seen shown and she explains events or soundbites in ways that…wait for it…created within me a sense of empathy for the young pop star.
Furthermore, Liz’s writing was compelling enough that I put in the CDs that accompanied the book. The first listen was journalistic. The second listen I have no excuse for. Thank you for that, Liz.
At times the narrative appears scattered, but she always weaves back to her original theme, tying it all together. She also manages, within the context of Britney, to talk about her cancer experiences and how age brings the grace of perspective and self-acceptance, but also the knowledge that time is finite. Her essay, “Mortality at The American Legion Hall,” is worth the price of admission alone. She verbalizes her hatred for the banal comment of, “Oh, that makes me feel so old” and shows how a little empathy goes a long way to close the generation gap.
Highly recommended, no matter how you feel about Britney. And I am going to use this review to come out and say it – I love the Pet Shop Boys. Maybe one day I’ll do a zine on them.