Response: Britney’s Comments About Gays Labeled “Tacky And Infantilizing”October 11, 2013
Britney’s under fire for saying the gay people she’s surrounded by, her hairstylists and beauty team, are “adorable and hilarious,” leaving some wondering if she’s exploiting and stereotyping her gay fans.
Britney told radio station 99.7 NOW FM in San Francisco last week:
“A lot of my hairstylists and my beauty team that I work with are gay so I hang out with gays a lot, and I just think they’re adorable and hilarious.”
Thought Catalog penned a response, labeling her statement “tacky and infantilizing.”
“The problem is that Spears’ remarks are dripping with the Privileged White Lady mindset where gays are accessories to their consumption, like a little dog that fits in a handbag. Spears means well and isn’t being intentionally harmful, but it speaks to a culture that exoticizes gays as pets and ever-present best friends, ready for hair-stylings and shopping trips. The gay community is forever Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, ready for your sassy makeover, complete with snaps and one-liners.
It’s gay Orientalism.”
Is it, though? We’re living in a day and age where you could land in jail or worse because of your sexual orientation. She’s receiving criticism for admitting, albeit not so eloquently, she supports gay people. The problem with how that’s worded is it might imply she doesn’t have to be. It’s cool, the Internet’s twisted her words around for years, so it’s no shock someone somewhere composed an essay and analyzed her off-hand comment (I acknowledge the irony of that statement). Her reference to hairstylists and glam squad is not reality for most people; it’s hard to fathom that’s who you’re surrounded by the most, but ah… lest we forgot this is Britney Spears we’re talking about.
Out of context? Possibly. Britney refers to an entire group of people as “gays,” inadvertently stripping homosexuals of an identity. I get it. However, she’s scolded for marketing towards gay people, but would be slammed if she didn’t – THAT is the Britney Spears Double Standard – homegirl’s damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t. I’d love for Britney to be more outspoken and an advocate for the LGBT community, but that’s not the kind of artist she is or has ever been. I’m not excusing it, simply addressing the reality of the situation. She’s identifying with her fanbase through performances in the Castro District and appearing on OUT magazine, not speaking at public events.
It’s no secret most of Britney’s fanbase consist of gay men, so it’d be stupid of her not to cater to that. You really think she’d release a song called “Work *****” otherwise? ****, I just stereotyped.
“We felt that song needed to come out to keep the foundation on what Britney represents,” Will.I.Am tells Billboard on Friday. Though some of you may shutter, she represents part of the gay culture in 2013.
“There’s something refreshing about having stars like Mackelmore and Britney Spears on our team, and it’s nice to know that the biggest pop acts in the world appreciate their gay fans,” continues Thought Catalog. “However, we need to remember the difference between respect and appropriation, when there are queer artists making the same music who don’t get the attention.”
There ARE gay artists out there who garner similar attention as Britney, but that shouldn’t matter. Staying tight lipped won’t solve the problem that things aren’t equal yet, but dissecting statements like this creates a divide. It’s saying: gays are being used to further inflate her bank account without anything in return. Are we really that powerless?
“The problem is that it’s not so easy as simply acknowledging your gay fans exist. Gays are smart and know the icons who have put in the time to work with the community — like Cher and Madonna — and those who have coasted on its endorsements. For Britney, it’s easy to be a diva. All she has to do is look the part, dressing up in her Femme Fatale costume, and hang out with her gay friends, who I’m sure love her. However, to be a real advocate and ally, Britney betta work.”
Wait, I’m confused. Cher and Madonna are praised for using their gay fan bases, but Britney is rebuked. Where is the line between advocacy and exoticizing? Why is she painted into a corner yet Madonna, who sells “Boy Gone Wild” and “***** Riot” merchandise at her MDNA shows, is applauded. Personally, I think they should have their cake and eat it, too. If a straight female artist wants to take advantage of the market she’s most popular in, more power to her. If gay people want to be susceptible to that, more power to us. This isn’t a Britard essay of the blind leading the blind; there’s a bigger issue here. Claiming Britney’s using her gay fans to benefit herself is true, but we’re using her, too. Gay people don’t need Britney’s approval, and she doesn’t need ours. However, it’s nice that we do.