Britney Spears’ Promotes Potentially Abusive Relationships in Her Song, Baby, One More Time
In her Top 10 hit ". . . Baby, One More Time," Britney Spears posits the song’s persona as a passive naïf. Continual references to blindness and hitting metamorphose the song from a teen-targeted summer pop tune into ideology enslaving young women into dangerous, constrictive views of relationships--and themselves. Using feminist and Lacanian theory allows us to see the speaker’s entrance into the Symbolic and the problems thereof.
The speaker rues over a terminated "love" affair. She (although arguable, this critic finds the speaker’s notion of and adherence to gender roles distinctly "female") supplicates for a "sign" of his (again, heterosexuality is an assumption made for the sake of discussion) persevering proclivity. This sign is to come in the form of a "hit." References to the speaker’s death ("killing me") are frequent, as are other indications of mistreatment.
The speaker begins addressing "baby," her lover. She claims ignorance of the troubled relationship, thus displaying her quiescent predisposition: "how was I supposed to know / that somethin’ wasn’t right here." Because of her passivity, she appears as an innocent victim. The poor, helpless speaker is not to be blamed for anything. One might picture a little girl shrugging her shoulders and asking, "what could I do?" when caught eating a whole cake. This denial of responsibility is commonly seen on The Jerry Springer Show when someone maintains, "I didn’t mean to have an affair. It just happened." Placing the locus of control outside oneself causes one to naturally become a victim.
Yet the speaker seems apprehensive in her inveterate paralyzed role. She professes, "I shouldn’t have let you go": are we to conclude that she dismissed her lover for no reason at all? No, she is not active in the relationship; she has made that clear. Instead, she now affirms she should have asserted some dynamic action in the anti-synergetic affiliation. Instead of considering the future or making proactive plans, she rather lives in the past--an illusionary past.
The speaker’s lack of foresight is emphasized by continued references to sight. The speaker’s lover moves "out of sight," perhaps into a future that the speaker cannot imagine. She also denounces her lover because he "got her blinded." Is this a reference to substantive abuse? We cannot be sure. If we interpret it literally or figuratively, we end up with similar results. She cannot see because of this man: he has transmogrified her ability to envision the future into nothing--all she can stare into an abyss.
Her blindness is doubly troublesome when we consider her inability to think. By tying her capacity for thought to the presence of her lover, she is now stranded without brainpower in his absence: "when I’m not with you I lose my mind." Whether she is thought-deprived without him or simply crazy is not the issue: she has...