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Britney Spears's Femme Fatale Tour with Nicki Minaj at the AA Arena July 22

Britney is boring these days. But at least she's grown up.

In his infamous YouTube video titled "Leave Britney Alone!," Internet celeb and blogger Chris Crocker tearfully defended Britney Spears and challenged the haters, crying, "Anyone who has a problem with her, you deal with me, because she's not well right now!"

Although manic and possibly bipolar himself, the transvestite teen wasn't wrong about the obvious decline in his favorite pop star's mental health and general well-being. On the evening of September 7, 2007, Spears had delivered the most lackluster Video Music Awards performance that MTV ever aired. Glassy-eyed and confused, she wobbled around uncontrollably while the crowd responded with horrified texts to their best buds at home. But it seemed like Crocker was the only one genuinely worried about Brit. The rest of the world was busy calling her fat.

Throughout her early 20s, Spears struggled with her public persona, trying to cover up certain truths about her life as a woman and her role as a celebrity. Even though she wasn't a virgin, she pretended to be one for years, only later admitting to having slept with former boyfriend Justin Timberlake.

And when interviewed by music journalist Chuck Klosterman for the 2003 Esquire article "Bending Spoons With Britney Spears," she appeared to be living at odds with her role as a pop star. Brit denied dressing provocatively, even though she was wearing nearly nothing at the time. She claimed to have never thought about her role as a sexual icon. And she apparently didn't understand that the schoolgirl outfit from her video for "...Baby One More Time" was very, very kinky.

Watched constantly and closely, Spears seemed unable or unwilling to accept she was, in fact, in the spotlight. So she attempted to lead a so-called normal life. But as a star, one's life is far from normal. And acting normal under the constant gaze of the paparazzi would make just about anyone seem to be crazy trailer trash.

In early 2007, Spears was caught looking like a piss-poor parent, driving with her infant son Sean on her lap while trying to elude a swarm of photographers. A short time later, Brit decided to go bald, shaving her head after divorcing back-up-dancer-turned-rapper Kevin Federline. And about a week after the MTV disaster, she was charged with hit-and-run, which resulted in losing custody of her children. Things were getting unbelievably bad for Britney.

But along the way, she hadn't really helped herself. In an interview with Matt Lauer for a 2006 Dateline special, Spears was asked about the incident where she was photographed with Sean on her lap as she fled the paparazzi. She claimed to have been frightened, which is understandable, so she rushed away from the scene. But then she told Lauer: "I did it with my dad. I'd sit on his lap and I'd drive. We're country." Obviously, she didn't fully comprehend the difference between driving with a child on your lap in Kentwood, Louisiana, while no one is watching and being a superfamous pop star with a baby hanging from your hip while behind the wheel on Pacific Coast Highway. So what was it? Was Britney dumb, goofy, nuts, or just too young to be a mom?

Whatever the answer, there's no denying Spears has had her share of tough times. And despite what superfans such as Chris Cocker might suggest, most of the drama was self-inflicted. Yet after making plenty of terrible personal and professional decisions, it appears that now, at 29, Britney Spears has finally grown up.

Circa 2008, Brit's career began to recuperate. An ABC News article about her appearance on CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother was titled "Britney Spears' TV Appearance Suggests a Comeback." All of the actors on set said they liked working with her. She was a hit. And in an interview that year with Glamour Magazine, Spears even mocked the idea of a comeback: "I have come back so many times, people are like, 'Is this another one?'... It's kind of like a joke to me now."

The girl had clearly changed. She spoke with Glamour about parenting in a way that was mature and relaxed, not defensive. She talked about setting boundaries for her children. And when she discussed her life, it was apparent things had settled down. "I love my home and staying in bed and watching Dancing With the Stars or reading a Danielle Steele novel," she said. "I'm kind of boring."

And it's true. Over the past couple of years, Spears has been living more quietly, attending her sons' baseball games, not flashing her crotch everywhere. Even Perez Hilton, once a vicious critic of Spears (sending her a post-VMA fuck-you letter), noted, "Obviously, she knows the importance of being involved in her children's life, and we can't commend her enough for always making them her top priority!" So, yes, Britney is a grownup now, appealing to not only her fans but also her haters.

Her most recent album, Femme Fatale, is her seventh studio release, the first since 2008's Circus. And it has received generally good reviews. Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone wrote, "Femme Fatale may be Britney's best album; certainly it's her strangest." He continued, "Femme fatale? Not so much. But say this for Britney: She's an adventuress."

Her tour by the same name seems to be going smoothly too. And so far there haven't been any crazy shaving, flashing, or falling-baby incidents. Of course, OK! Magazine reported that the stress of being on the road is getting to Spears. According to one "insider," she's been "bingeing on candy and fast food." But exaggerations such as "hurtling toward another meltdown," "massive pressure," and "grueling" make the article appear reactionary and ridiculous. It's a 65-city, six-month world tour. She's stressed and that's actually normal. There's really nothing else to say here, other than let Britney eat!

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American Airlines Arena

601 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33131

786-777-1000

www.aaarena.com


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