“Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye need know on earth and all ye need know.” – John Keats The news that Britney Spears Alexander Federline was planning to air her own reality series broke around the same time Britney’s newly chubby middle was transformed from one truth (“Britney got fat”) to an even more unfathomable truth — that Britney was indeed three months pregnant. (Britney news stories tend to come in two’s.) And now we’ve seen what’s been so carefully spun and cultivated – the image that was Britney Spears – stripped down to what Britney really wants to show: herself, warts and all. Spears recently dumped her “management,” deciding that she, at the ripe old age of 24, knew better what her fans would appreciate. The result of this horrendous decision is comparable to the scene at the end of Singin’ in the Rain when Lina Lamont “goes public” with her own singing voice. There is a collective gasp as her public recoils in horror – and the once beloved movie star instantly becomes a laughing stock. You could hear the same collective gasp last week when “Britney and Kevin: Chaotic” premiered on the UPN network to show not the sexy, flirty, audacious Spears we thought we knew, but evidence that the insulting catch phrase is true: stupid people shouldn’t breed. To be fair, it isn’t Britney’s fault she’s stupid. And perhaps she will mature and grow to the point where she no longer appears stupid, but her “Chaotic” video diary seems to make the point that the lights are on but nobody’s home. She may have been going for the appealing “ditzy blonde”-kind of dumb that Jessica Simpson has used so well lately, but boy, did she miss the mark. There is nothing appealing about Britney here. Someone should have told her that what she was doing was very, very wrong. The through line is scintillating (at least potentially so): Britney and Kevin have been misunderstood by the tabloids (“false tabloids” as Britney describes them) and therefore they want to set the record straight. If the public could see how beautiful their love is, how cool and down to earth they are perhaps they wouldn’t chide Kevin Federline for being a no-good, money-grubbing hick and Britney for being, well, Britney. We’re introduced to Britney’s dilemma in the first few minutes of her “video” – she is going on tour and she feels like, shucks, she’d like to have a guy along for kicks. And lo! Federline rears his greasy head. There is an attraction from the start (conveniently, it’s not mentioned in the video that Kev had a pregnant girlfriend, Shar Jackson, at the time, who was about to give birth to their second child together). Britney decides she wants Kevin and what Britney wants, Britney gets. All those years working, starting from her early teens, all of those concerts, and all that time spent being good, have taken their toll. In episode one, Britney seems tightly wound and eager to have her cork popped. The only topic of conversation in the first episode is sex. Sex, sex and more sex. Sex in that kind of hurried, rabid way teens encounter it. In fact, Britney shoves her video camera in everyone’s face asking them what their favorite sex position is. (Eck. What was she thinking?) It comes off a bit like those home videos we all made as teens, the ones you watch once and laugh, watch twice and cringe. Many of us have made one in a moment of teenage narcissism, but they should all be buried, especially this one. All this lasciviousness was documented in the “false tabloids” with Britney’s slobbering all over Kevin in various locales, both grabbing the flesh that inevitably popped out of a variety of tight, skimpy clothing — Britney, with a cigarette and a can of Red Bull, Kevin with a cigarette and a bottle of beer, both with their tongues shoved down each other’s throat. Was it any surprise that the end result would be what nature intends? No, it was as easy to predict as the sun coming up. What’s immediately apparent is that no one being filmed or jabbering at the camera seems to like Britney very much. It’s like “The Office,” where the unbearable boss thinks he’s really funny but no one else does. Even her soon-to-be-hubby, seems to reluctantly accept her horn dog advances. Federline has admitted that it’s all been a bit much lately – two kids, a breakup, a new relationship with Spears and another baby on the way. He spreads his seed as easy as peanut butter but will there be enough of it to cover the bread? Much of the problem with Britney, poor Britney, is that she seems to want to be in a place her idol Madonna reached after twenty years of making her mark: husband and child, stability, and spirituality, but she wants it in a few short years, and without any understanding. Unlike Madonna, Britney has just a few albums under her belt, one failed movie (instead of Madonna’s many failures), and just one previous relationship. She needed time to grow up, and time to get an education – either a real one or an industry one, or both. It remains to be seen whether either the show or the relationship will last. As nasty as the relationship looks, I can only say for sure that the show should be put to a stop immediately. It’s just depressingly gross and awful. Originally called “Can you Handle My Truth?” before hastily being changed to “Chaotic” — perhaps to fit with the environment the child is going to be born into — it says way too much about the sad and icky life that is Spears’. So, to Britney we would like to say that we handled your truth but we had to put it down. Maybe your truth is better handled with sanitized gloves.
This Week’s Notable Television
Thursday, May 26 Next Stop Wonderland (**), 8 p.m., IFC. The Waterboy (**), with Adam Sandler, 8 p.m., ABC. Slave Catchers, Slave Resisters, 9 p.m., HISTORY. Aliens (****), 10 p.m., TNT.
Friday, May 27 Dancing at the Blue Iguana (**), stripper movie with Daryl Hannah, 8 p.m., IFC. The Dirty Dozen (***), 8 p.m., TCM. Wyatt Earp (**), with Kevin Costner, 9 p.m., A& E. Me, Myself & Irene (**), in time to dovetail the recent Renee Zellweger nuptials, 8 p.m., FOX.
Saturday, May 28 The Patriot (*), yawn, 8 p.m., NBC. Blade Runner (****), Ridley Scott’s best, 8 p.m., KTLA. Flashdance (**), the film that birthed a fashion trend, 9 p.m., WE. Aging Out, teens make the transition out of foster care, 9 p.m., KCET.
Sunday, May 29 Titanic, (****), “once more, you open the door!” 7:30 p.m., NBC. MASH (****), 7:30 p.m., AMC. Honeymoon in Vegas (***), 8 p.m., WE. Memorial Day Concert, 8 p.m., KCET. Double Jeopardy (**), great bad thriller, 9 p.m., CBS. Monday, May 30 A Bridge Too Far (****), 8 p.m., TCM. Miss Universe 2005 Pageant, 9 p.m., NBC. The Game (**), failed David Fincher/Sean Penn movie, 9 p.m., ABC. An Untold Triumph, Lou Diamond Phillips narrates the contributions of the Filipino-American soldiers who fought in World War II, 9 p.m., KCET.
Tuesday, May 31 Traffic (****), the Steven Soderbergh drug drama, 8 p.m., NBC. Britney and Kevin: Chaotic, oh joy, 9 p.m., UPN. Cleopatra (**), 9 p.m., FMC. Frontline: A Jew Among Germans, 9 p.m., KCET.
Wednesday, June 1 In the Heat of the Night (****), 7:30 p.m., AMC. Beauty and Geek, another reality show premieres, 8 p.m., KTLA. Jackie Brown (***), 8 p.m., IFC. Dancing with the Stars, yet another reality show premieres, 9 p.m., ABC.