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Britney Spears
Mark J. Terrill  /  AP
When you look closely at Britney Spears’ performance on Sunday night, it’s easy to see that the girl was petrified. She’s not only lost sight of herself as a person, but her confidence on stage is gone, too.
By Entertainment writer
msnbc.com contributor
updated 9/11/2007 9:58:13 AM ET 2007-09-11T13:58:13
Commentary

You know me. I often use this space to chastise the “Hollywood ‘Fo” — Paris, Nicole, Lindsay and Britney — because they really just make it so darn easy for me, like Britney Spears did on Sunday night when she kicked off the MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas with a less than stellar comeback performance.

Girlfriend had some serious issues.

First, Spears, who performed her new song “Gimme More,” looked really bad. The TMZleezy fashion police opined that she looked like “an old school hoochie” in that black rhinestoned bra and panties get-up she had on and sadly, I have to agree.

Brit, were there no mirrors in your dressing room? C’mon girl, that outfit was screaming take me off, I only want to be worn by Mary-Kate Olsen!

Also, it was widely apparent that she couldn’t get her lips in sync with the audio track.

Brit, when all else fails, just turn around and shake your booty. Ask Miss Jackson. It works for her every time!

And yes, Spears’ choreography, which used to really rock in a mechanical kind of way, was less than inspired. She kind of looked like a harpooned circus elephant that kept trying to move and groove because the show must go on.

Brit, when your legs feel like lead, just sit down on the edge of the stage and start serenading P.Diddy. He’ll save you every time!

With all of the things that went wrong at the Palms on Sunday night it’s no wonder that Nelly, 50 Cent and Rihanna (when she wasn’t giggling) all had that deer-in-the headlights look in their eyes when the cameras panned the audience.

They were having a true WTF moment.

See how easy that was?

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But truthfully, I’m going to take the high road like Alicia Keys did when reporters asked her about Spears’ performance. Keys thinks we should all give “the lovely lady” a break and she’s right.

It’s one thing to rip Spears when she’s stepping out of limos with no panties — like she reportedly did again on Monday — but it’s quite another thing to kick her in the gut when she didn’t and/or couldn’t live up to our performance expectations for whatever reasons.

Video: Has Britney bashing gone too far? Imagine if you will what she must have been going through up on that stage. For the past two years her every move has been recorded by the paparazzi, the stalkarazzi and even respectable mainstream news outlets who are just lying in wait ready for Spears to screw up again so she can be today’s news.

With Lindsay in rehab, Paris lying low and Nicole recovering from her 82-minute stint in jail, the media scrutiny is even more intense for Spears.

Then she’s got all that mama drama, baby daddy drama and the girl can’t seem to grasp the fact that undies definitely need to be worn under micro minis.

On top of all of that, her once brilliant career is in the toilet. And everybody in the world knows it.

But when you look closely at her performance on Sunday night, it’s easy to see that the girl was petrified. She’s not only lost sight of herself as a person, but her confidence on stage is gone, too. So, it really makes perfect sense that she would have been nervous playing to a crowd of her peers on national TV.

I’ve never been a Spears fan, which is as it should be since I’m about 30 years past her target demo. But I do know that at the height of her fame the Britney Spears brand was working and working well. She made all the right moves on stage and off — including the real or imagined feuds with her former Mickey Mouse Club co-star Christina Aguilera. Those were not only entertaining, but kept both of them at the top of their game.

But now the brand is busted and Spears doesn’t have anyone around her who can tell her how to fix it. That, too, was apparent on Monday when the Spears camp tried its best to explain what had happened at the VMAs.

Her heel was broken. Hmm. Not buying that, try again.

The eye drops she popped in her eyes to control her allergies just before hitting the stage made her appear dazed and confused. Uh-huh. Isn’t there some kind of pill for that?

She was ticked off that MTV, which was using her to boost ratings for a show that’s as stale as yesterday’s half-eaten doughnut, vetoed the magic act she had worked on all week with Criss Angel because it was “too complicated.” Also, Spears was reportedly unhappy that she was unable to do her vocals live as she had planned.

OK Brit, I might buy both of those explanations if you throw in a 30-day cruise around the Greek Isles.

Truthfully, the less-than-crafty PR spin just made a bad situation worse. Spears should fire her handlers for their horrendous mishandling of her. They should know by now that it’s much easier for folks to buy into just one lie. Once you start getting into multiples you’re just asking for bad press. Publicists should only play that card if their clients have been arrested so they can lay the foundation for reasonable doubt. For something as insignificant as a botched performance, simplicity is key.

She had the flu.

I’m not sure how Spears, 25, can actually recover from this latest screw-up. I suppose it’s easier to bounce back on a personal level when you have millions of dollars at your disposal. You can just bop over to Kitson or some other overpriced trendy boutique and buy some temporary happiness to ease the shame. But even if that works, Harvey Levin and his TMZ crew won’t let you forget.

But professionally, confidence is the one thing you can’t buy. The only way you can get it back is to reach inside yourself, yank it out, tweak it and pray that your fan base is loyal enough to give you another chance.

On stage, Spears deserves an opportunity to fine tune herself. She should just do what she did when she did it well. Word on the street is that Jay-Z might be willing to work with her. She should make that happen.

Off stage, Spears has a lot more work to do. I suggest she start her repair work at Victoria’s Secret.

Miki Turner is an entertainment columnist at msnbc.com. She welcomes your comments at dmiki@aol.com

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