Growing up, I always felt intoxicated whenever I saw footage of untouchable beautiful celebrities shot on cheap cameras online.
Kate Moss snorting coke on a leather couch, Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse playing with Mice dazzled in frosty blue, Paris Hilton’s sex tape (gorgeously shot using Night Vision on Mini DV).
Seeing icons through a raw lens can make you feel like you are a wall right in front of them. It’s scary, mystical and addictive. Before Instagram, us regular people weren’t always playing both roles of the paparazzi and the celebrity. They were them, we were us.
In 2007, after a very public media acclaimed “meltdown,” Britney Spears took us into her underworld. She built it herself, under anonymity: THE M+M’s TOUR.
The performance is the tour equivalent of a snuff film except there is no gore. The footage only exists through low quality, barely watched videos on YouTube. It would be a deep web site if pop culture was an internet browser. Nothing is professional, there was no 1080p. You can barely see her face at times.
This was before social media real-time hashtag updates, for those who watched it go down. Anyone who was a Britney fan stayed at home all night, refreshing the X17 Online LiveStream on May 1st, 2007…
“Is Britney REALLY performing at the House of Blues in San Diego? Only 900 tickets are being sold? Will we hear new songs? Is this like, real life?”
It happened later that night. After minutes of refreshing the page, knees weak with nerves.
The M+M’s TOUR had begun.
Britney Spears came out dressed like a pop virus infecting the video feed — white pleather mini skirt, hot pink jeweled bra, a black choker, wigged-out brown hair flowing down… Pure poison.
She jumped into performing “Baby One More Time” accompanied by dancers who look more like a group of lingerie party BFFs that joined her on stage. Confident and cool, she segued into imitating the choreography from her “Slave 4 U” video dropping it down low.
The flames lit up in this hellbent building. She controlled the crowd with her surreal magnetism as “Breathe On Me,” the trippy-erotic classic, charmed a boy from the audience and he received public seduction from Brit and her girls.
The stage went dark for a quick costume change.
Returning in a denim skirt, and faux white fur coat, she finished the show with “Do Somethin” and “Toxic” with a coldness in her eyes. There is no sign of resentment, only anger and life, out for attention and blood.
The live-feed is blacked out. She’s gone.
Now, why did Britney Spears, the girl who once sold out two of the biggest concert venues in the world — Wembley Arena in London and Madison Square Garden in NYC — bring herself six feet underground for six nights? What was she trying to say?
We will never know.