Now that she's reportedly worth $15 million to a TV show aimed at adolescent girls and their doting families, I think we're allowed to come to the conclusion, all of us, that nobody ever truly desired us to be offended by Britney Spears. From the Halloween-schoolgirl costume to the snakes to "If You Seek Amy" (like the swear word), it's clear now that we were only ever supposed to watch Britney Spears offend some other amorphous group of people.
Now I'm pretty sure that's over, too. Unless she's going to be The Mean Judge!
Here, at least, is the last possible place she can be a controversial or divisive figure. In the private, parochial universe of a TV music contest, where all music can be contained within theme weeks and all stars are discovered, still, by other stars and major labels, she might be a satisfying, stagey bad girl. The major-label types in shows like these act as though they still have not only the power to shape taste but the desire to expel, instead of build up, the world's Britney Spearses.
And Britney Spears can act like she's at risk of being expelled. Some possible story lines for season one:
This could be wishful thinking, but at some point I think there might have been a media establishment sincere enough in its desire to control our opinions (that is, sincere enough in its desire to control our opinions through something other than an exhausted, pro-wrestling-style faux-fourth-wall-breaking near-irony) to actually ostracize Britney Spears--to actually try to stifle her hypersexualized preteen-pop, or at least her erratic behavior at media establishment functions.
Maybe that might have led us to a Britney Spears who was a genuinely rebellious figure, or at least a genuinely controversial one. The one we have now, waiting aimlessly for her next cue, is just playing her part; no doubt she'll hit her marks again on The X-Factor.