Crossroads

Starring:
  • Britney's Ass and Cleavage
  • Britney's Misguided Claim That She's the Next Madonna
  • Britney's "Virginity"

 

Directed by Some Dude Who Thought Glitter Was Too "Edgy"
"And then, this one time, at band camp..."

Glitter....For Kids!

When I used to work at the mall, on Friday and Saturday nights behind the employees' parking lot there would be a collection of 1970's Ford or Dodge vans with tinted windows. It was the etiquette of the male department store clerks to walk the female employees to their cars—especially if they were parked within mugging distance of a Molester Van. Disguised as postmodern chivalry, this often made an opportunity for a "Your welcome...so what are you doing after work?" Mostly, though, I would just drive home, sometimes wondering who was peering at high school and college girls through the steering wheel of a Molester Van.

I hadn't thought much about Molester Vans until I arrived at the parking lot of the Campbell 16 to see Crossroads, the latest commodization of Britney Spears supposed virginity. It was unusually crowded for a Wednesday night, so I parked in the back of the lot next to a brown, 1979 or so Ram Van. On my way to the ticket booth, I passed a 1983 white Chevy Deluxe Van, its interior shielded by straight black curtains. "Molester Vans," I thought, "They must be here for Crossroads."

Sure enough, there were two guys in hooded trench coats on opposite sides of the second row. The rest of the crowd was a crop of drunken college guys, four anorexic cheerleaders, and a covey of giggly new moms over in the corner. And me, a wannabe "serious" film critic strapped in for ninety minutes of sub-Glitter diva worship.

Crossroads is the wannabe Glitter. In Glitter, Mariah makes it big and has to reconcile with Farmer Mom; Crossroads serves us Britney as the daughter of a mechanic (Dan Ackroyd, embarrassing himself worse than Chevy Chase in Snow Day) who must make peace with Snooty Mom (Kim Cattrall, whom I hate anyway for being on "Sex and the City.") These films are vying for the title "Diva Cult Classic"—movies so bad that they alter our perceptions of film itself. Glitter wins, no contest. The two films are separated by tone: Glitter thinks it's Important Filmmaking—from the time Mariah's orphanage burns down until she pulls it together for the big show at Radio City Music Hall, Glitter thinks it's the definitive treatise of stardom. Add the subtext of Mariah's real life meltdown and public embarrassment, and Glitter could be called Mariah Carey's autocritique. During Mariah's first video shoot, she stands in her underwear as sparkles rain down, the director calls for a cut, yelling, "You can't see the star through all the glitter!" That, my friends, transcends the moviegoing experience.

Crossroads is so limp it attains none of the glory of Glitter; it's too concerned with daring us to be the first to grab at Britney's panties. She is a high school senior in some universe where a chick that hot goes scorned and dateless because she's the class valedictorian. There's an adorable scene in which Britney tries to do it with her three-year lab partner, but she says she wants her first time "to be special" and "this doesn't feel right." Then her childhood friends dig up a time capsule buried in some field....long story short, Britney, her vain black friend, and her pregnant "trailer trash" friend hit the open road for an audition in LA. They've hitched a ride with some dude they think has killed somebody, blatantly playing to the trench coats in the second row, convincing them that teenage hotties dig homicidal maniacs.

My favorite scene occurs in a karoke bar in New Orleans. Pregnant White Trash is trying to lip sync Joan Jett; the crowd's not buying it, so Britney grabs the mike. It brings down the house, of course, but the scene plays oddly. The film's editors can't even make it look like Britney is actually singing karoke. Perhaps Stephen Hawking could explain the paradox of lip synching fake music, but I'm just confused. We all know Britney screws up the lip synching during her "concerts," but how do you screw up karoke? Later, Britney redeems herself by scribbling poetry in her dainty little notebook. Turns out that she's penned the lyrics to "I'm Not a Girl." Wow! That is cute! But then the film takes some bizarre, disconcertingly tragic turns. There's rape accusations, miscarriages, and the declaration by Britney's mom that she was a "mistake." Did the movie forget that it's the artistic equivalent of the Mena Suvari bathtub scene in American Beauty? We're out here trying to have deflowering fantasies, and then they drop that on us?

What really pissed me off is Britney's arrogant declaration at the start: She dances around in her undies in her room singing "Open Your Heart." Britney, darling, you're no Madonna. She can't even tell that Madonna's being ironic when she wears your tee-shirt on stage. Madonna is a talented pop culture innovator with artistic scope and depth; Britney can barely lip synch her own songs. Britney will never make a video as good as "Papa Don't Preach" or "Like a Prayer." Baz Luhrmann asked Christina Aguilera to sing for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack instead of her. Britney is not Madonna—she's Michael Jackson, the Pepsi contract and plastic surgery notwithstanding, and is destined for his irrelevance. Musically, Britney is as talented as Samantha Foxx, and her acting is less textured than Lance Bass'. Britney's meal ticket is vendible virginity, her shelf life as long as she can still realistically sell it.

After Crossroads was over, I felt obligated to make sure that the anorexic cheerleaders made it to their cars unscathed. Thankfully, they parked near the front and were not in the path of a Molester Van. It seems to be part of the Molester Van Code that, as a Molester, you do not park your Molester Van within ten spaces of another Molester Van, and if at all possible, you do not occupy another Molester Van's territory. And that's what this whole Britney Spears phenomenon is about: A commodity marketed to the Molester Van in all of us. She is the crown jewel Molester Van Drivers want to chloroform and carry back to their apartments. She is the Angela Hayes to our Lester Burnham, but would we stop at the cusp as Lester does? Of course not. Mena Suvari advertised the false bravado of low self-esteem, which isn't sexy at all. Britney convinces our inner-Spacey that secretly she's begging to be touched for the very first time, and it's this cat-and-mouse that fuels the Britney machine. Britney was cute when she was playing the teen idol, but now she's a walking copy of Barely Legal for Maxim readers too timid to purchase real porn. Britney is tacked to the dashboards of Molester Vans behind malls across America, with Pepsi hoping to stretch this out until the Olson twins hit eighteen. That'll be the real jackpot.

The Pitch:
 
Glitter
Plus
 
Molester Van
Equals
     
1 Crossroads
See It For:

Britney trying to forget about going Justin's dressing room and accidentally confronting a naked, drunken Joey Fatone.