6 Britney Spears bangers that are actually – probably – about socialism
What were you doing the day that Britney Spears rallied for workers to break free from the chains of their socio-economic oppression and unite?
OK, so, maybe the singer didn’t quite say that, but when Spears shared a quote penned by writer and artist Mimi Zhu which calls for mutual aid, wealth redistribution and a general strike, well, safe to say it got people talking.
As the coronavirus pandemic pelts the economy, stampedes businesses and rampantly redefines daily life for workers, “Comrade Britney Spears” has been a light in these truly dark times.
The utter surrealness of a millionaire pop star sharing a quote salted with communist values amid a viral outbreak is only something that 2020 can cook up, to be honest.
While we’re not sure whether Britney Spears is now part of a Marxist reading group, swoons over ‘Young Stalin’ or has an ‘ironic’ poster of Che Guevara hanging up in her bedroom, but looking back at her music, maybe the clues were there all along that she was a socialist?
Consider the following an introduction to Marxism-Leninism-Spearism.
1. ‘Work b***h.’
Now, reader, this is an obvious one.
In her 2013 banger, Spears espouses the values penned by the father of communism himself, Karl Marx.
If a worker wants a “hot body”, a Bugatti”, a “Maserati”, indeed, they “better work, b***h”.
For under Marx’s theory of labour, the value of a commodity, such as a living fancy, living in a big mansion, or partying in France, can be objectively measured by the average number of labour hours required to produce that commodity.
Spears is clearly showing this is all an illusion by satirising how fetishised luxury living is.
2. ‘I’m A Slave 4 U.’
“I’m A Slave 4 U” is a song all about the plight of the titular wage “slave”.
Capital is elusive to us, yet we’re all slaves to the cogs of the economy, “it just feels right / it just feels good”, comrade Spears wrote, but we “cannot hold it / cannot control it”.
She explained in the tune that as much as the lower class wants to “dance next” to the ruling class, “to another time and place”, perhaps a socialist utopia, nevertheless, all we are are “slaves” to capitalism.
“There’s no escape” from late-stage capitalism which, Spears writes, is “toxic”.
This system of commodities we live in needs a “warning”, Britney urges. But the bourgeoisie – those who own the means of production – should listen, as “baby, can’t you see / I’m calling”.
Yes, the workers are calling… for a revolution.
When Spear sings about this economic model of growth at all costs, the workers will forever be “slippin’ under” the hierarchy as they try to taste the “poison paradise” of the lifestyle of the rich.
In this song on the eponymous 2008 album, Spears begins with: “There’s only two types of people in the world / the ones that entertain, and the ones that observe.”
As Marx asserted, there are, in fact, only two types of people in the world, capitalists, or bourgeoisie, and workers, or proletariat.
The bourgeoisie “observe” the labour, or “entrainment”, of the proletariat. In presenting herself as “a put-on-a-show kinda girl”, perhaps Spears is showing that all it takes for this hierarchy to be overthrown is a revolutionary figure, one Britney Spears.
5. ‘Gimme More.’
This classic 2007 era Britney can be read in two ways.
Are lyrics such as “gimme, gimme more, gimme more, gimme, gimme more” showing the seductive power of consumerism and capital? That all we’re conditioned to want is more things that we don’t actually need but think we do?
Or are other lyrics, such as “gimme, gimme more, gimme more, gimme more”, a rallying cry for workers to demand higher wages through collective bargaining through unions and strikes?
6. ‘Oop!…I did it again.’
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Yes, we all do it again, and again, and again. Toil away as the rich get richer, Spears argues in her 2004 song.
“You see my problem is this / I’m dreaming away / wishing that heroes, they truly exist”, in belting this out, Spears yearns for the days when “heroes”, such as Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong and Fide Castro truly existed.
The workers “take a sip from the devil’s cup” and accept their place in the world.
But in manipulating the listener, Spears suddenly adopts the role of the capitalist for the song’s chorus.
Workers feel that their bosses are “sent from above”, but they simply are “not that innocent”, they “played” with the “heart” of the proletariat – their joy and sense of what being human – and get “lost” in the “game” of alienating the masses.
Anyway, we seriously doubt Britney Spears is a socialist, let alone a communist. But we hope you enjoyed this welcome distraction from the coronavirus.