Britney Spears

The problem with the many, many celebrity judges on reality TV talent searches.

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After a busy week, I finally got around to picking up T.A. Frank's profile of Herman Cain in this past Sunday's New York Times magazine. Read it. It is the definitive piece on the Cain phenomenon, capturing its absurdity while also trying to reckon with its very real appeal and staying power. The piece appeared the day before Cain's five-minute wipe-out on Libya policy, but it all but predicted it: "To say that Herman Cain has an imperfect grasp of policy would be unfair not only to George W. Bush in 1999 but also to Britney Spears in 1999.

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The pop charts have gotten awfully crowded. There are still only ten songs in the Top Ten, although some could count as multiple songs for the way they combine elements grafted from other pieces of music. There’s nothing new or scandalous in that method, by which Lupe Fiasco employed parts of a Modest Mouse recording to make “The Show Goes On,” the number-nine hit on the Billboard singles chart this week. What’s extraordinary—in fact, unprecedented in the history of pop music—is the high number of ad hoc teams of collaborators named as artists.

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Of course it’s offensive. To recognize that about the video that Kanye West released last week for his self-portrait in song, “Monster,” is to acknowledge its intent without seeing the fullness of its effect. The video was directed by Jake Nava, who is celebrated for making commercials that market glamour brands (Armani, L’Oreal) with sexy celebrities (Jessica Alba, Maria Sharapova), as well as music videos that market sexy female musicians (Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Shakira) like the glamour brands they are.

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Pink Panther

It's hard to be a feminist when you're drunk. It's not that drinking isn't ladylike or that women shouldn't drink at all; my point is neither meant to be puritanical nor draconian. But how true to your own ideals, principles, and sense of self can you be if one is drowning that sense of self in booze?Whenever a woman hands her power to someone else--in this case, something else, alcohol--she is less than.

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On Sunday night, it seemed pretty clear that Britney Spears' performance at the MTV awards ceremony was the biggest prime-time fiasco of the week. Then came Thursday night and President Bush's Oval Office address on Iraq. At first blush, coverage of the white trash kid turned tabloid fodder and the rich kid turned good ol' boy would seem to have little in common (besides, of course, the four years of high-profile futility that followed the respective 2003 triumphs of Spears' In the Zone album and Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech).

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