Monday, October 31, 2011

Britney's Videography: "Everytime"

Britney Spears "Everytime" # # # # #

How appropriate that we get to "Everytime," the scariest and most haunting video in Britney's entire videography, on Halloween. Instead of the typical horror fodder with murders, monsters and mayhem, however, "Everytime" is about the horror of celebrity. The video starts by following Britney on what I'm sure was a typical day for her in 2003: driving in her limo with her manager/lover (played by Stephen Dorff), being ignored while he's on an important "call", and accosted by overzealous fans, paparazzi and the vicious lies of the tabloids. What sets "Everytime" apart from "Lucky," another video about the insanity of Britney's life behind-the-scenes, is the violence and anger that accompanies Britney's encounters. Her fans swarm her and her limo when she gets to her hotel, making it nearly impossible to even open her door, let alone get up to her room. And, this time, the fans very nearly attack her, grabbing and pulling at her so they can have their own piece of her. Her lover is angered by the constant attention, lashing back at the paparazzi and sending a display of tabloid magazines flying. He even lashes out at Britney, as if it's all somehow her fault. The tension and anger sends Britney to the bathtub for a relaxing soak; she begins to bleed from her head and slides under the water. She begins a journey into the great white light, seeing herself carted off to the hospital and failing to be resuscitated by doctors. This is where we see what is perhaps the scariest image in the entire video: as Britney is on the stretcher, unresponsive, being pushed into the ambulance, we see a fan holding up a magazine and a pen, hoping for an autograph. It begs the question, have people become so obsessed with the idea of celebrity that we have lost all traces of humanity? 

I believe director Dave LaChapelle would agree. He shoots the video in slow motion, while the ethereal "Everytime", with its own hauntingly beautiful piano melody, plays in the background. Its stark, jarring contrast to the horrific imagery we see only makes you more appalled at the state of celebrity today. And I think the film's final frames does more to drive home this point than anything. We see Britney emerge from the water and we quickly realize it was all a dream. She is laughing and happy, but why? Typically, I think people would assume it is because she's happy to be alive. But I think there is a darker answer: she's happy because she has seen her life without all the pressures and horrors of being a celebrity. She wants that life. People have often cited this as the video that predicted her pre-Blackout downward spiral. "Everytime" makes that part of her life scarier by showing us just how close we were to losing her.

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