TV: The Underlying Messages of Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

In what was one of the most anticipated episodes of Glee, alongside the Madonna and Lady Gaga episodes, Britney Spears made all of a minute’s appearance on the show last week.

I was expecting a lot more, but we all know acting is not one of Britney’s strong suits (Crossroads, anyone?). However, Brittany S. Pierce, played by Heather Morris, stole the show and cemented her reign as my favourite Glee character.

While Britney’s lacklustre performance was the drawcard for the episode, there were a few underlying messages about fame using Spears as the beacon for what can go wrong if young stars abuse their fame.

“The episode opens with Kurt informing Mr. Schue that there’s a five person Facebook group campaigning for New Directions to sing Britney Spears songs at the homecoming assembly. But Schue shoots down this movement (even [though] these kids have already performed “Push It” in front of the whole school, for the purposes of our story, Brit Brit is too trashy or something).” [Jezebel]

The kids fought for their right to perform Britney, as she’s an inspiration to all of them, and the reason they want to be stars. Perhaps this way of thinking was better suited to the Lady Gaga episode, as she truly is an inspiration. On the other hand, if Mr. Schue let them perform songs by Madonna, Lady Gaga and, as Jezebel mentioned, Salt N Pepa, Britney is probably the most tame and PG-rated of them all. But I could see Schue’s point: while Britney may be an inspiration, she’s also one of the least talented pop stars who permeated the late ’90s/early ’00s zeitgeist and “not suited” to New Directions.

But, when Brittany goes to see guidance counsellor Emma Pillsbury’s new boyfriend and the school dentist Carl, played by guest star John Stamos, and is put under anaesthesia, she has a Britney Spears fantasy, which makes her realise her true potential as a star, and she demands to have all the solos from now on.

Santana wants to have a Britney fantasy too, so they both go to see the dentist and demand to be put under. Santana uses her doctor father’s health insurance to bribe Carl into succumbing. This could be seen as a reference to the enablers in young stars’ lives (Lindsay Lohan comes to mind) and the drug use that many such stars (again, Lindsay) are rumoured to have engaged in.

In a scene from last week, Sue Sylvester kicks Santana off the Cheerios for defacing her young and still-growing body with breast implants. This seems to be a specific dig at Britney, and a prelude to this week’s episode. Santana is probably only 17 years old, perhaps even 16, which is the age Britney is rumoured to have gotten implants.

Finally, the episode culminates in most of the Glee club having had hallucinations and a “Britney Spears sex riot”, caused by Sue. Britney has been criticised her whole career for being too sexy, which is evident in the opening Britney/Brittany video mash-up of “Slave 4 U”, “Toxic” and “Oops… I Did It Again”, as well as Brittany and Santana channelling “Me Against the Music”, which would have had far more impact, I think, if Britney was used in the whole montage, instead of just at the very end for about .5 seconds.

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