Last year, I started a new blog called Lisa Marie’s Song of the Day. It’s nothing big. It’s just a place where, on a daily basis, I share music that I happen to like. Ever since I started the site, certain people have been giving me a hard time over the fact that they have discovered that I am a total Britney Spears fangirl.
Well, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I love Britney Spears. I always have. Even when I was going through my whole “wearing black and writing dark poetry” phase, I still loved Britney. Her songs are great to dance to and they’re even more fun to sing off-key and at the top of your lungs when you’re taking a shower or driving to or from work. Even better is when you have a family member in the car and she has no choice but to listen as you sing Work Bitch in your thickest rural accent.
(Whenever I sing, I unleash my inner country girl.)
Of course, it’s never just been Britney’s music to which I’ve paid attention. I was jealous of her when she dated Justin Timberlake. I was worried for her when she married Kevin Federline. I was scared for her when she went through her period of public instability. When she shaved her head, lost custody of her children, and was placed under the conservatorship of her father and attorney, it angered me to watch as the media treated her pain as entertainment. When she was diagnosed as being bipolar, I related to her because I knew exactly what she was going through. I even still use the #FreeBritney hashtag on twitter.
So, in short, I’m definitely a fan. But I have to admit that I prefer Later Britney, the one who uses bitch as a term of empowerment, to Early Britney, the one who used to lie about being a virgin.
The 2002 film Crossroads is definitely all about Early Britney.
Crossroads was Britney’s feature film debut and it was also pretty much her exit. The film did well at the box office (and I’ll admit that I paid money to see it … well, actually, I got someone else to pay for me to see it but you get the point…) but the critics absolutely hated it and it still regularly appears on lists of the worst films ever made. For the record, I do not think that Crossroads is one of the worst films ever made. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not exactly a good film but it’s definitely something of a guilty pleasure. Whenever I watch it, I go on a nostalgia trip and that’s always a little bit fun.
In Crossroads, Britney plays Lucy. Lucy has just graduated from high school. Lucy is supersmart and, the film is quick to tell us, a super virgin as well. (There’s something rather icky about how much media emphasis was put on Britney’s claimed virginity. Especially since even her biggest fans suspected there was no way she was still a virgin if she was dating Justin Timerblake…) Lucy was her school’s valedictorian and now her father is looking forward to Lucy going to medical school and becoming a doctor. Lucy’s father is played by Dan Aykroyd. Though Aykroyd is playing a Georgia auto mechanic, he makes no attempt to hide his thick Canadian accent. Good for you, Dan!
Anyway, Lucy is preparing to do what her father wants but then she gets an opportunity to drive across the country with two childhood friends and a complete stranger. In high school, Lucy had little to do with snobby Kit (Zoe Saldana) and pregnant Mimi (Taryn Manning) but, when they were all 10 years-old, they were all BFFs. In fact, they were so close that they even buried a time capsule. Digging up the capsule inspires these three frenemies to hop into a car with Ben (Anson Mount) and hit the road!
Ben, it turns out, has just gotten out of prison but he’s hot and he’s musically talented. The girls are a little bit scared because they think Ben might have been in prison for murder but seriously, Ben is way too cute to be a murderer. Plus, when he reads Lucy’s poetry, he sets it to music.
AND SERIOUSLY, HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THAT!? I mean, c’mon — every girl who has ever written a poem has, at some point, fantasized about a boy who would put that poem to music and tell her that her words were almost as beautiful as she was.
I mean, there’s a lot of negative things that could be said about Crossroads. I’m not a fan of the way Mimi was portrayed and, towards the end of the film, it almost feels as if the movie is suggesting that she’s being karmically punished for getting pregnant without being married. The film’s emphasis on Lucy’s (and, by implication, Britney’s) chastity feels dangerously reactionary. And, while Britney doesn’t really give a bad performance, she’s still not quite believable as someone who was so busy studying that she didn’t even go to one single party during high school.
But ultimately, this will always be the film where a hot guy took a girl’s poem and spontaneously set it to music.
There’s something to be said for that!