Victim? Survivor? After 20 years of Britney Spears, the jury’s still out| Bidisha

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The pop star has often seemed like a hired hand for people behind the scenes. But there’s still time to find her true voice

Twenty years ago a teenage Britney Spears launched herself – or, to be fair, was launched – by a song and video made by middle-aged men. … Baby One More Time was a catchy (but morally wrong) song set during a long golden-hued afternoon at the tail end of summer term. A school uniform-clad Spears daydreamed in class about expressing her love for a boy through the medium of dance.

Looking back on it now, from the 2018 endtimes, that mobile-free, pre-9/11 world looks strangely innocent, bathed in the artless glow of pubescent pheromones, neon-bright sportswear and dance montages in High School Musical-style sports halls. The video and song were a world away from school mass shootings, rapist frat boys and youth activism. The platform-heeled shoes and knotted school shirt make it the 1990s fashion sister of Clueless, Never Been Kissed and Ten Things I Hate About You, and the bubbly, optimistic friend of The Craft.

Related: ‘It was a bit of a blur’: Britney Spears on the making of ...Baby One More Time

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