Britney Spears featuring Madonna "Me Against the Music" # # # # #
For the first single from her fourth album, Britney enlisted the help of the most influential female artist not only on her career but for every major female popstar of the past 20 years: Madonna. While its reputation as a mediocre effort from two artists who should have knocked it out of the park isn't wholly undeserved, the video has some smart, interesting ideas that aren't as dismissible. I love the video's overall sense of urgency and tension. It's never quite explained why Madonna is following/stalking Britney or why Britney feels so threatened by Madonna's presence, which is probably for the best, but I love how the frantic editing and the shaky hand-held camera during the maze sequences makes you interested in working toward finding out what's happening. Forgive me if I'm grasping at straws here but I feel like costuming Britney and Madonna in appealing, feminine versions of traditionally masculine suits, combined with the aforementioned stalking, makes an interesting commentary on female artists in the music industry, particularly those who work on their personas as carefully and deliberately as Madonna and Britney do. First of all, it's a commentary on how women, no matter what profession they are in, often must dress and act like men in order to be taken seriously. It's an issue Parks and Recreation also once tackled, humorously (Leslie tries to join the "Boys Club" in order to help herself in the future) but it's still prevalent all these years after feminism. Britney and even, in a way, Madonna at this stage in her career still have to prove they are worthy of being music icons among the male rockers, rappers and even popstars who dominate most people's conception of "musicianship." Secondly, the voyeurism feels like it's talking about how older females, again no matter what profession, feel they must watch out for every bright young thing that comes in and tries to steal their spotlight. Younger females, on the other hand, feel like they are being watched, waiting to get pounced on after making any little mistake. While I have no doubt that Madonna and Britney got along just fine, you can't help but feel like Madonna is always keeping tabs on all of these up and coming popstars and figuring out how she can out-maneuver them. Needless to say, it's worked for her so far as she has obliterated not only 99% of the 80's female popstars but also a good portion of those from the 90's as well. The reason this video doesn't get a full five stars is because, much like the song itself, it is missing that something extra that would have made it absolutely unforgettable. I wish the creepy undertones were played out a little better and that the weird Persona-like vibe the film seems to be giving was pushed further. All in all, though, "Me Against the Music" is a corker of a video, much better than I initially remembered it being back in 2003.
Previous installments: ...Baby One More Time | Sometimes | (You Drive Me) Crazy (The Stop Remix!) | From the Bottom of My Broken Heart | Born To Make You Happy | Oops!...I Did It Again | Lucky | Stronger | Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know | I'm a Slave 4 U | I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman | Boys | Overprotected | I Love Rock & Roll