Bloody ’ell! Britney Spears’s brand-new video for “Criminal,” co-starring boyfriend Jason Trawick, has gotten politicians’ knickers in a twist across the pond. Seems that Spears did not reveal that she’d be packing heat in the mini-movie when she asked permission to, um, shoot in the working-class borough of Hackney, where not so long ago shops were being looted and cars going up in flames.
Spears says the song’s “cool concept”—I’m in love with a criminal, Mama! It’s physical, not rational!—was developed way before the London riots, though that doesn’t explain the choice of location, where council members have objected to her “rudeness” in glamorizing gangs and violence, sending youth the wrong message. Amid the literally steamy (in-the-shower) sex scenes, the armed robberies, and the oddly attractive loft-lair (new design idea: criminal chic—this neo–Bonnie and Clyde duo even have shelves of books, which get shot up too!), I didn’t notice any gang members, though a lot of tattoos (visual clue?) are on display. The gunplay is cartoonish, the real (-looking) violence occurring when Spears’s initially posh character and Trawick’s outlaw character kick and punch her abusive boyfriend with abandon, which is actually where the wrong message goes out. It’s kind of a Hollywood staple that it’s okay to hurt bad guys, but unless you’re defending yourself, no, it’s not.
Still, it would have been fun to see a skinhead Britney (miss her!), pierced tongue gleaming, tagging Britannia with red spray paint—“Fuck da police! I’m toxic!”—and maybe a Princess-of-Pop takedown of the Duchess of Cambridge. Or am I the one being rude now?