Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"For The Record," Britney's back (sorta-kinda)

There was nothing severely revelatory about “For The Record,” the quote-unquote Britney Spears documentary that aired Sunday on MTV.
The opening sequence, a panoramic view of the L.A. skyline, is overlaid with a brief intro graphic explaining how Spears allowed cameras to follow her around for roughly two months, beginning just before the MTV Video Music Awards and leading up to the weeks prior to her album release, which debuted Tuesday.
While that opening sequence attempts to inject drama into its subject matter, it's stilted at best. Anyone who cares to watch it already knows the context of the documentary. Spears's celebrity has transcended pop-star stratosphere and entered a realm of surreal voyeurism rivaling the attention given to heads of state. We already know the girl is drama.
What makes the documentary work are the glimpses of humanity that pop up. It's hard to imagine there's a real human being hiding in that celebrity skin, but the cameras manage to steal some moments: her pops serving her cheese grits for breakfast, her best friends being flown in from back home in Louisiana, and, in the most revelatory point, Spears getting her two boys ready for a night of Halloween trick or treating.
Those parts serve the documentary's overall purpose, to remind people that Spears is a real person, better than the interviews segments that are supposed to provide a narrative thread. While the intro promised that no topic was off-limits, that is certainly a lie.
It's those interviews that provide the most glaring proof that this documentary was meant to shed the most positive light on Spears and her comeback. There is no mention of drug use. Nor is there any mention of her infamous ambulance rides to the looney bin
What we get are ambiguous answers from Spears on how she was surrounding herself with the wrong people and how she was manipulated by those she trusted.
The one interesting interview scene comes early on, when she confesses how deeply hurt she was after her breakup with former beau Justin Timberlake, which leads into her regret over her rebound hook-up with ex-husband Kevin Federline.
Other than that, it's pretty much false advertising as far as interview topics go.
Speaking advertising, the premier promised non-commercial interruption, but that only lasted until the 25-minute mark, at which point the audience was treated to an overly-produced perfume ad for her fragrance line. The cross-promotion cycle is complete when we later see Spears picking out the final design looks for her perfume.
Which is final proof that Spears comeback machine is right on course.

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