Julie Burchill Julie Burchill

Britney Spears is back with a vengeance

After years of abuse and being reduced to the status of child-robot, the singer is back on track with soaring album sales and a smash-hit memoir

The singer performing in ‘Britney Spears: Piece of Me. Remixed. Reimagined. Still Iconic’, Las Vegas, February 2016. [Denise Truscello/Bslv/Getty Images for Brandcasting]

I am working on a play about Marilyn Monroe at the moment and, reading Britney Spears’s book, the similarities of these two fragile blondes came to mind. Both were celebrated and castigated for their woman-child sex appeal; both struggled with sinister Svengalis – Darryl Zanuck and Mickey Mouse. But one big difference between the two is that Marilyn often wished she had a father, while one imagines Britney often wishes she hadn’t. In the long and sorry history of parasitical men leeching off talented women, was there ever a more worthless example than Jamie Spears? He used his daughter as a cash-cow from her childhood; when she became an adult and he saw his grip on her loosening, he had himself made her court-appointed conservator for 13 years, controlling her career, finances and even fertility. But now Britney is back in charge of her estimated $60 million estate and can make personal decisions for herself – including the writing of this book.

How could so much fear and loathing circulate around a pretty girl who just wanted to sing and dance?

And what a book it is – both payday (an estimated $15 million advance, justified by selling more than a million copies in its first week of publication) and payback. Britney has her dad bang to rights from the first page: ‘My mother and father fought constantly. He was an alcoholic. I was usually scared in my home.’ She returns to the topic many times. I can see her and her well-chosen ghost-writer Sam Lansky  wrangling over the number of dad-disses per dozen pages. Unlike Prince Harry’s ghost,  J.R. Moehringer, who had Spare starting with a quote from William Faulkner (an unlikely choice of reading for the man who, despite an expensive education, only managed a B in art and a D in geography at A-level), Lansky wisely avoids having Britney quote copiously from Sylvia Plath.

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