“It’s her 127 Hours,” said Becky as we paused our drinking game to give our full attention to the epic video for “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” (2002). If Britney Spears doesn’t look quite ready to cut her arm off, she does look like she’s about ready to wrap up the ordeal imposed on her by director Wayne Isham, who took her out to Antelope Canyon in Arizona and asked her to hang out on a few cliffs looking pouty and airbrushed while he circled her with a helicopter. “She went out there and, without a safety cable, just stood there with those cowboy boots on,” Isham told MTV. “She was standing on the edge in her cowboy boots, looking hot. We’d be right on the edge, and she had not a blink of fear.”
Okay, Wayne, but what exactly is she supposed to be doing out there? The song, a booming ballad written by Dido (yep, Dido) and polished by producers Max Martin and Rami Yacoub, has Britney referring to some unspecified events that taught her she doesn’t know everything, and now she’s a little verklempt. “It’s time for me to do me,” she seems to be saying, “so Imma go on this desert walkabout. You all talk amongst yourselves—and also, check out my spray-tanned navel!”
This video is a quintessential guilty pleasure because there’s really no meaningful way to enjoy it without feeling at least a little bit guilty. Here’s Britney, singing a lyric most appropriate for a 12-year-old—if anyone—while she stands there striking poses that suggest some kind of vague angst while also, coincidentally, giving the circling cameras a thousand different views of her bangin’ 20-year-old bod. “Not yet a woman”? I’m sorry, but by the time Madame Butterfly was 20, she’d already been married, impregnated, and driven to suicide. And Britney’s trying to find a moment to collect her thoughts? Take your time, honey, take your time. We’ll all be watching, and belting out the chorus.
Check out last week’s installment of Guilty Pleasures, “Youngness” featuring fun. and Snoop Dogg.