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Friday, January 16, 2004
From the aforementioned L-Word review:

Even the infamous kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards was less shocking than shockingly calculated.

This particular, and particularly widespread, attitude has been bugging me for a while, but I haven't been able to put my finger on why until just now.

The complaint boils down to this: it was calculated to be shocking, but since, as the article points out, girls kissing on TV isn't actually shocking anymore, the crime is really trying to do something that's shocking and failing. (Trying to be shocking and succeeding is, of course, just dandy, as this Pushes Social Boundaries and Challenges The Moral Norms Of Middle America, etc.) But if we all know that girls kissing isn't shocking, presumably Madonna and Britney know that, too, and so the kiss isn't a calculated shock tactic--why try to shock when you know you won't?--but a legitimate artistic choice in a choreographed routine. If you want to blame someone here, blame MTV for the close-up. But even better, turn your gaze at the particular people complaining about this, presuming they're complaining in a major media forum like the Times. Basically, they criticized two people for creating a media circus by...creating a media circus. I mean, from reading the papers, you'd suspect no one was bothered by it except people TV critics knew, and certainly everyone would have been a lot less bothered by it if it hadn't been covered (and criticized) everywhere, even four months after the event now.

In other words, it seems like the media used this to sell a bunch of papers, except they lambasted Brit & Mazza for cynically trying to manipulate the media into printing a lot of pictures of them, and these criticisms were always accompanied by pictures of Brit & Mazza. And I dunno, this seems like having your cake and eating it too. But I could be wrong.