Monday, January 29, 2024

Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler: Aerosmith's CRAZY Sexualized Schoolgirls?

Alicia Silverstone Interview  (February 1994)

Karina Longworth narrated on the “90s Lolitas, Volume 1: Drew Barrymore, Amy Fisher and Alicia Silverston” episode of the You Must Remember This podcast (May 15, 2023) that after Aerosmith, the American rock band, “signed a massive new record contract in 1992” and released an album a year later, to appeal to the MTV viewing crowd, “a decision was made to build a video [...] around some younger talent.” Thus, 16-year-old Liv Tyler, Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler’s daughter, and 17-year-old Alicia Silverstone were chosen to co-star in the music video for “Crazy” - a single on Get a Grip (1993). 


Here’s Longworth’s recap of the music video for “Crazy”:

[...] “Crazy”, which co-stars Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler’s daughter Liv. They play catholic school girls who sneak out of class – when Alicia climbs out the window of the building, her skirt lifts up over her black silk lace-trimmed knickers–the kind of underwear that a 90s teenager would only wear in tribute to Courtney Love. [See GIF 1]

They climb into a convertible and rip off their blouses as they drive away, lip syncing to Liv’s dad’s voice all the while. By the time they stop for gas, Alicia has changed into a mini slip dress and Liv into skintight leather pants. 

In the convenience store, the teenage clerk nods his approval as the girls go on a shoplifting spree, and they reward him with a strip of photo booth snaps which, it’s implied, feature them taking off their tops to trade. 

Liv then enters an amateur night contest at a strip club. Performing to her dad’s song, and maybe even doing what is meant to be a physical Steven Tyler impression, she strips off her shirt while Alicia, dressed in a man’s suit, watches lovingly from the audience.

In this scene, and the next when after winning the contest, the girls share a one-bed motel room, they look like lovers. 

[...] in the next scene they lure a hot shirtless male farmer off of his tractor and into their convertible. But at the end of the video the girls get grossed out by the guy and ditch him, dropping off in his field and driving off into the horizon together. 

Thus, the video, which is not based on the lyrics of the song, covered a number of motifs that are related to the theme of the allure of nymphets, which are: the schoolgirl fetish, self-sexualized teen fashion, teens exchanging nudes for goods and/or money, teen sex workers, and teen lipstick lesbianism


Longworth’s recap didn’t mention a number of salacious situations in the music video. For instance, the music video began with an upskirt shot of Alicia as she pulled a widgie out of her “black silk lace-trimmed knickers”. While 16-year-old Liv pumped gas, she seductively shook her derrière in her “skintight leather pants”. Consequently, she literally jumped for joy after she realized that she was being ogled by a middle-aged man. (See GIF 2)


In the gas station’s convenience store, and with the gas attendant’s encouragement, Alicia stole sunglasses and Liv snacks, but like Longworth’s narrated, the nymphet’s didn’t leave the gas attendant empty handed. The schoolgirls gifted him a strip of topless teen photos from the convenience store’s photo booth. (See GIF 3) Of course, teens exchanging nudes for goods and/or money was done before “Crazy” and it’s being done currently, but now it’s done on OnlyFans, Snapchat, and TikTok - to name a few. 


Longworth didn’t mention that before going to the strip club, the schoolgirls got a motel room where 17-year-old Alicia longingly looked upon Liv as Liv donned a silver thong. And as Longworth narrated, Alicia “lovingly” looked upon Liv on the stage as Liv danced, stripped and slid down the stripper’s pole. (See GIF 4)

And after Liv earned the $500 prize, the schoolgirl’s celebrated by wrestling in their pajamas in the motel room’s bed. As Longworth’s narrated, during the motel and strip club scenes, the schoolgirls “look like lovers.” 


Interestingly, there’s a longer director’s cut of the “Crazy” video, which has some notable differences. For instance, Alicia’s schoolgirl skirt doesn’t get caught in the school’s window, but she exits the window in a manner that lets viewers get ample shots of the crotch of her “black silk lace-trimmed knickers”. (See GIF 5)


In the director’s cut, the middle-aged man didn’t only ogle Liv, he simulated performing cunninglingus on the nymphet. (See GIF 6)


And the director's cut showed more of Liv stripping, which included her slowly sliding her hand down her crotch. Consequently, Alicia was so turned on that she visibly wanted to strip too. (See GIF 7)

Longworth went on to narrate that 17-year-old Alicia, “[...] posed for a feature in Interview Magazine (February 1994), wearing a midriff-baring top and panties, and holding a stuffed teddy bear.” Innocently, Alicia shared with Interview that due to her clumsiness, she found it hilarious that men thought she was sexy.  

“When I see myself [...], and people are going, ‘Oh my God,’ thinking I’m sexy, it cracks me up because in real life I’m so clumsy,” she said. 

Alicia Silverstone Rolling Stone (September 7, 1995)

And 18-year-old Alicia posed for a feature in Rolling Stone (September 7, 1995) where the nymphet posed, legs spread, in a pink baby tee and pink frilled panties while, once again, holding a stuffed teddy. 

Liv confirmed with Alex Zalben for the MTV piece “20 Years Of 'Crazy': Liv Tyler Looks Back On The Aerosmith Video That Launched Her Career” (July 2, 2014) that she was in high school when the music video for “Crazy” was filmed. 

"I remember I was in high school when I made it," Tyler recalled, "and I would wake up in the morning for school, put on the MTV countdown. And when the video would come on I'd get so embarrassed, that's when I would get in the shower, I remember that. Wow [...]."

Of course, Steven Tyler's use of his 16-year-old daughter to make money for Aerosmith isn't new either. To the pleasure of a middle-aged man, Liv seductively shook her teen derrière in a pair “skintight leather pants” at the gas pump, for the pleasure of a room filled with men, she shook her teen derrière in a pair of silver thongs at a strip club, and to the pleasure of male music video viewers, Liv was sensuous with Alicia - all with the purpose of getting music video views, which would lead to via album sells and concert ticket sells. 

One could argue that Liv had it better than Demi Moore whom shared in Inside Out, her memoir, that when she was a 15-year-old nymphet, her alcoholic mother paraded her in bars. Unable to resist the allure of a nymphet, an approximately 48-year-old wealthy Greek man paid Demi's mother $500 for sex with the future film star. Subsequently, the man asked Demi, "How does it feel to be whored out [by your mother] for $500?" 

Lastly to Steven Tyler and Aerosmith's pleasure, per the aforementioned MTV piece: “[...] in 1994 (when the video debuted), "Crazy" was one of the most requested videos on MTV [...]” And per Rock on the Net: “The video for "Crazy" is ranked number 23 on VH1's "Top 100 Music Videos of All Time". 

Monday, January 22, 2024

CAT PERSON, “Cat Person” AND ME, and Cat Person (2023): An Age Gap Sexual Affair in Three Ways

Kristen Roupenian’s CAT PERSON went viral shortly after it was published in the Fiction section of the New Yorker (December 11, 2017). Almost four years later, Alexis Nowicki published “Cat Person” AND ME in the Life section of Slate (July 8, 2021). Nowicki wrote that Roupenian drew “specific details” from her life and asked: “How did she know?” And most recently, Nicholas Braun starred in Cat Person (2023), which is (loosely) based on Roupenian’s fiction. 

Below is Nowicki’s synopsis of CAT PERSON, followed by a recap and analysis of CAT PERSON, “Cat Person” AND ME, and Cat Person (2023), respectively.


Nowicki’s synopsis: Kristen Roupenian’s “Cat Person” is a fictional story that follows its protagonist, Margot, a college sophomore, as she navigates a relationship with an older man named Robert. They meet when he flirts with her at the local theater where she works concessions—he orders Red Vines—and they text for a while before going on a date. Throughout their time together, Margot vacillates between feeling disgusted by him and wanting more. Eventually, when they sleep together, Margot finds herself repulsed, creating an imaginary boyfriend in her head to laugh about the awful sex with later [sic]. In the following weeks, as she attempts to ghost him, Robert sends Margot texts that become increasingly aggressive, culminating in an encounter at a campus bar that leads him to text her: “Whore.


Margot met Robert, whom she thought was cute, during the fall semester while working the concession stand at an art house theater. (Interestingly, Margot had a “habit” of flirting with customers - for tips.)

Robert was described as “tall”, “on the heavy side”, with “a little too long” beard, and “slumped” shoulders. And very "sensitive” but Margot “knew how he could be soothed” “like a horse or a bear, skillfully coaxing it to eat from her hand.” 

While texting for “several weeks”, Margot found Robert to be “clever”, and she worked “to impress him”. Eventually, they met at 7-Eleven where Robert gifted Margot a “Cherry Coke Slurpee and a bag of Doritos and a novelty lighter”. Before departing, Robert “kissed her gently on the forehead” and said, “Study hard, sweetheart. I will see you soon.”

While Margot was on break, the age-gap couple “texted nearly non-stop”. And: “When Margot returned to campus, she was eager to see Robert again [...]” Consequently, they went to the movies at a theater “where students didn’t go there very often”.

During the movie, he didn’t hold her hand or put his arm around her, so by the time they were back in the parking lot she was pretty sure that he had changed his mind about liking her.

However, after the movie, they went to a bar, but, due to being underage, Margot was denied entry, which led her to share with 34-year-old Robert that she was 20, and she reiterated that she was a sophomore. 

And then, absurdly, she started to feel tears stinging her eyes, because somehow everything had been ruined and she couldn’t understand why this was all so hard.

“Oh, sweetheart,” he said. “Oh, honey, it’s O.K., it’s all right. Please don’t feel bad.”

He kissed the top of her head, and she laughed and wiped her tears away.

Then: “in his eyes, she could see how pretty she looked”, and he “kissed her [terribly] then, on the lips, for real”. 

Margot had trouble believing that a grown man could possibly be so bad at kissing [...] it also gave her that tender feeling toward him again, the sense that even though he was older than her, she knew something he didn’t.

After the dreadful first kiss, they successfully entered a different bar and after three beers, Margot was: “[...] thinking about what it would be like to have sex with Robert [...] imagining how excited he would be [...]”

Consequently: “[...] she took his hand and pulled him up, and the look on his face when he realized what she was saying, and the obedient way he trailed her out of the bar [...]” 

Margot suggested they go to his place where, you guessed it, they had age-gap sex. (Interestingly, 20-year-old Margot, despite having had sex with six different boys, had: “[...] never gone to someone’s house to have sex before; because she’d dated only guys her age [...],” which raises the question. Where did teen Margot have sex with six different boys? However, we do know that she lost her virginity in a bed-and-breakfast that her mother reserved.)

During sex, “Robert looked stunned and stupid with pleasure, like a milk-drunk baby [...],” which Margot attributed to “[...] the fact that he was older, and she was young.”

However, for Margot, the sex was worse than the kiss; thus, to Robert's dismay, Margot decided to make the occasion a May December one-night-stand. But she didn’t want to rudely “ghost on him”. Thus, Tamara, Margot’s friend, took it upon herself to text Robert, via Margot’s phone: “Hi im not interested in you stop textng me.”

Robert replied: “O.K., Margot, I am sorry to hear that. I hope I did not do anything to upset you. You are a sweet girl and I really enjoyed the time we spent together. Please let me know if you change your mind.”

Subsequently, the former age-gap couple saw each other in a bar. Ergo, Margot's friends: “[...] hustled her out of the bar as if she were the President and they were the Secret Service.”  Robert texted later and began with: “Hi Margot, I saw you out at the bar tonight. I know you said not to text you but I just wanted to say you looked really pretty. I hope you’re doing well!” But he ended with: “Whore.”

“Cat Person” and Me

Nowicki began by noting some of the similarities that she and Charles, her older lover, had with Margot and Robert:

The protagonist was a girl from my small hometown who lived in the dorms at my college and worked at the art house theater where I’d worked and dated a man in his 30s, as I had. I recognized the man in the story, too. His appearance (tall, slightly overweight, with a tattoo on his shoulder). His attire (rabbit fur hat, vintage coat). His home (fairy lights over the porch, a large board game collection, framed posters). It was a vivid description of Charles. 

Nowicki elaborated on her age-gap affair with Charles by sharing that she was an 18-year-old senior in high school and working as a host at a burger joint when she met Charles  - a 33-year-old server and University of Michigan biology labs applicant. 

Taking advantage of the age-gap, Nowicki asked Charles to buy her some “vodka from Target.” She wrote: “Later, drunk with my friends [...] I texted him.” And she made a Vine account, TikTok’s predecessor, recorded “six-second snippets”, and “imagined him watching them.”


Subsequently, they went on a date “to see Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby at the multiplex.” And later, after they “kissed for the first time”, she asked, “How old are you?”. Nowicki wrote that Charle’s 15-year-age-gap did not “scare” her, but she felt “empowered” by her “ability to attract a fully formed adult”. And she was “enticed by the forbidden nature” of their affair. Thus, she wrote: “ I smiled and kissed him again.”

“How old are you?” I asked him after we kissed for the first time. His answer, a hesitant “33, ” didn’t scare me. I felt empowered by my ability to attract a fully formed adult and enticed by the forbidden nature of our potential relationship. I smiled and kissed him again. 

After Nowicki moved into her University of Michigan dorm room, with the help of Charles, she got a job at the “local art house movie theater”. Charles would “drop off baked goods” at the theater and after her shift, Nowicki “biked straight to his house” where it’s safe to infer that they had age-gap sex. (Nowicki wrote that Margot’s “sexual encounter” and Robert’s “hostile text messages” were “unfamiliar”, that Charles was “careful, patient, and gentle”, and, that despite having to “sneak around in suburban basements to hook up”, unlike Margo, she was a virgin.)

Of Charles, Nowicki wrote in her journal: “I’m growing up too fast because I fell in love with you. It scares me that I want to be with you forever.” However, after Nowicki’s sophomore year, she and Charles began to grow apart and by the summer of 2015, they “[...] called it quits and started seeing other people.” Yet, before Nowicki moved to New York, she: “[...] stopped by to see the cats one last time.” [Emphasis added]

Cat Person (2023)

Here’s IMDb’s synopsis for Cat Person (2023): 

When Margot, a college sophomore goes on a date with the older Robert, she finds that IRL Robert doesn't live up to the Robert she has been flirting with over texts. A razor-sharp exploration of the horrors of dating.

Although, Cat Person is (very) loosely based on CAT PERSON, some scenes were taken directly from the New Yorker text. For example, in the film, Margo and Robert met at a theater. Before a terrible kiss,  Margot cried after she shared with 33-year-old Robert that she was 20. During sex at Robert’s, Margot inferred that Robert was “clearly overwhelmed by how young and pretty” she was and by her “smooth skin” and “perfect breasts”. And in the film, after sex, Margot decided to end the age-gap affair. Consequently, after Margot and Robert spied each other at a bar, Tamara Taylor texted Robert: “hi im not interested in you stop texting me”.  And Robert ultimately responded with “Whore”. 

The differences between the New Yorker piece and the film aren’t relevant for our purposes. For example, in the film, Robert brought the 7-Eleven snacks to Margot’s archaeology lab. However, there is one minor difference between Roupenian’s piece and the film that’s worth noting. 

Once again, of the kiss, Roupenian wrote:

Margot had trouble believing that a grown man could possibly be so bad at kissing. It seemed awful, yet somehow it also gave her that tender feeling toward him again, the sense that even though he was older than her, she knew something he didn’t.

But in the film, Margot shared with Dr. Resnick, a couple’s therapist, “I mean, here he is, older than me, and yet already, I know so much more about kissing than he does.” Dr. Resnick replied, “Or was that sensation a shift in the power dynamics between you two, a shift that wound up in your favor?”

Dr. Resnick’s question brings up an issue that ties CAT PERSON, “Cat Person” AND ME, and Cat Person (2023) together, which is that due to Margot and Nowicki’s youth, there was a power balance between them and their older lovers. 

Recall that Roupenian wrote that Margot knew how Robert could be “soothed” “like a horse or a bear, skillfully coaxing it to eat from her hand.” With the thought of having sex with Margot, Robert was “obedient” and “trailed her out of the bar”. And she wrote that before sex how: “Robert looked stunned and stupid with pleasure, like a milk-drunk baby,” which Margot attributed to “the fact that he was older, and she was young.”

And, to the dismay of feminists and boys, Nowicki admitted that Roupenian “got that the power dynamic went both ways”, because, although Charles was Nowicki’s “point of access to an entirely new world of culture”, Nowicki wrote that her youth “held power over him, too.” And that Charles was not: “[...] a predatory man asserting his power over an innocent girl.” In addition, Nowicki wrote that Charle’s 15-year-age-gap did not “scare” her, but she felt “empowered” by her “ability to attract a fully formed adult” and that she was “enticed by the forbidden nature” of their affair.


So, what inspired Roupenian to write CAT PERSON? And why was CAT PERSON, reportedly, the first viral New Yorker fiction piece? Nowicki wrote that Roupenian was a MFA student in the University of Michigan’s English department, Nowicki was “friendly with some grad students” in Roupenian’s cohort, and Charles knew Roupenian. However, of CAT PERSON, Roupenian related to the New York Times: “It’s not autobiographical [...]” But Roupenian confessed the following in a letter to Nowicki:

Dear Alexis, I’ve spent the past several days struggling with the question of how to balance what is right for me with what I owe you. When I was living in Ann Arbor, I had an encounter with a man. I later learned, from social media, that this man previously had a much younger girlfriend. I also learned a handful of facts about her: that she worked in a movie theater, that she was from a town adjacent to Ann Arbor, and that she was an undergrad at the same school I attended as a grad student. Using those facts as a jumping-off point, I then wrote a story that was primarily a work of the imagination, but which also drew on my own personal experiences, both past and present.

Thus, we know that Roupenian lied to the New York Times and we know where she got her inspiration. But the (rhetorical) question remains: Why did CAT PERSON go so viral? 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

(FRAMING) BRITNEY SPEARS & Tavi Gevinson: Self-Sexualized Sex-Positive Teen Feminists or Sexualized Teens?

In Tavi Gevinson's New York magazine/”The Cut” piece, “Britney Spears Was Never in Control” (FEB. 23, 2021), Gevinson wrote that The New York Times’ Framing Britney Spears documentary did the following:

It made a compelling argument that Spears’ image was an expression of her teen sexuality
It deemed it misogynistic to question Spears’ expression of her teen sexuality
It deemed it anti-feminist\sex-negative to feel that sexualizing a teenager is dubious
It related that Spears’ expression of her teen sexuality is an expression of female power
And the documentary rewrote Spears as a teen feminist icon

In addition, Gevinson wrote the documentary “casts a spell” “specifically of the stretch that chronicles Spears’ rise as a teen idol, starting with the “Baby One More Time” video, but Gevinson shared that she was “unsettled, as an adult, to watch a 16-year-old embody a schoolgirl fantasy.”

“Baby One More Time”

However, once again, in terms of Britney’s teen sexuality, Gevinson wrote that the documentary purported that Britney “made her own decisions” and “was never just some puppet”.

The filmmakers achieve this by alternating between footage of Spears and her collaborators asserting that she made her own decisions [...] If “Baby One More Time” made me feel queasy, I was soon reminded that America is sexist and sexually repressed. If I wondered what kind of say Spears had in the “sexy” Rolling Stone photos taken in her childhood bedroom, I was soon reassured that she was never just some puppet.

The result is a documentary eager to characterize Spears’s early image as an expression of female power [...]

Yet, Gevinson disagreed with the positive assessment the documentary made of Britney Spears' teen sexuality. Gevinson implied that Britney didn’t make her own decision and that Britney was a puppet:

[...] the doc was rewriting Spears as a feminist icon. “[However] [s]he was the Establishment! She was what we were supposed to be: sexy and young. Not a paragon of independence.”

But Spears shared in the documentary that being sexy is naturally a part of being a nymphet. Britney said, “Well, I think we’re all girls, and I mean, that’s a part of who we are. You’d be lying if you said you didn’t like to feel sexy. You know what I mean? You’re a girl.” Wait, was Gevinson implying that the "Establishment" force this stance upon Spears?

Ed McMahon & Britney Spears

And in a 2003 interview with British GQ, Spears answered that the Rolling Stone photographer did a very good job of portraying her - despite asking her to “Undo your sweater a little bit more.”

“How did I realise [I was a sex symbol]? Probably the first Rolling Stone cover by David LaChapelle [...] I was back in my bedroom, and I had my little sweater on and he was like, ‘Undo your sweater a little bit more.’ The whole thing was about me being into dolls, and in my naïve mind I was like, ‘Here are my dolls!’ and now I look back and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, what the hell?’ But he did a very good job of portraying me in that way. It certainly wasn’t peaches and cream.” [Emphasis added]

By sharing Spears' 2003 British GQ interview, Gevinson made the point that we’ve been consistently making in our posts, which is that it’s two-way street - both the "Establishment" and Spears are guilty of using her teen sexuality (i.e., the allure of a nymphet) to make (a lot) of money. (e.g., LaChapelle/Rolling Stone: “Undo your sweater a little bit more.” Spears: “But he did a very good job of portraying me in that way.”)

Even Gevinson appeared to agree with our “two-way street” assessment: "There is no need to believe it’s either Everything was Britney’s choice, and therefore she was always a sex-positive feminist or Nothing was Britney’s choice, and the evil adults made all her decisions."

The “90’s Lolitas Volume 3: Wild Things, Cruel Intentions and Britney Spears” episode of the You Must Remember This podcast (October 9, 2023) shed more light on the “Baby One More Time” video and the LaChapelle/Rolling Stone photoshoot. For example, per the podcast, the catholic school girl uniform with the blouse tied above her midriff was 16-year-old Britney’s idea. Karina Longworth narrated:

Nigel Dick had been directing music videos since the beginning of MTV, and was responsible for image-defining videos for artists as diverse as Guns n’ Roses, Oasis, The Backstreet Boys and Celine Dion. [In] Dick’s idea for the “Baby One More Time” video […] Britney would have gone to space with animated characters that looked like Power Rangers. The story goes that she saw the treatment and thought it was lame, and offered her own idea: she would play a bored student who daydreams about breaking free from class and dancing in the high school’s halls.

“Your initial reaction to this is, I'm being told by a 16-year-old-girl what I should do…,” Dick said later. Then he rationalized, “This girl is 16 and I'm a grown man; perhaps she has a better perspective on her audience than I do. So I swallowed my pride.”

When Dick suggested she would be wearing a t-shirt and jeans in class, Britney suggested a catholic school girl uniform. When she showed up on set, she thought the blouse she was supposed to wear looked, in her word, “dorky,” so she tied it above her midriff.

16-Year-Old Britney Spears
(LaChappele/Rolling Stone)

Longworth narrated that Dick recalled that Britney wasn’t “pushed” into anything raunchy; however, she needed to be restrained. And Larry Rudolph, Britney’s manager at the time, related that being “squeaky clean” wasn’t natural for Britney, because she wanted “sexier”.

As Dick recalled, “She genuinely wanted to go down that road. It wasn’t like we pushed Britney into doing anything. Most of the time you have to hold her back a bit.’”

This was the standard line from the middle-aged men who worked with Britney: they wanted her to project wholesome virginity, but she kept wanting to look sexier. As her manager Larry Rudolph put it, “The record company wanted to keep things squeaky clean, and she went along with it at first. But it quickly became clear that it wasn’t natural for her.”

However, per Longworth, Rolling Stone alleged that Rudolph was: “marketing her as the teenage Lolita of middle-aged men’s dreams.” However, Rolling Stone’s April 1999 cover story of 16-year-old Britney was a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black. Longworth opined that:

[...] nothing in the article was as provocative, or memorable, as the photos, shot by David LaChappelle in and around the Spears family home in Kentwood, Louisiana. The cover image, in which Spears wears a white blouse unbuttoned to show a black bra and white silk boyshort panties while clutching a phone in one hand and a teletubbie in one hand [...]

In the most obviously staged image, Britney straddles a pink bicycle, looking back at the camera, which is focused on her white short-shorts, on which the word “baby” is spelled out on one butt cheek.

There are also pictures of Britney in a cardigan open over a white bra and short-shorts, standing in her childhood bedroom surrounded by stuffed animals and dolls, and another of her dressed in a blue satin micromini and bandeau top, dancing in her family’s TV room as though she’s at a club [...]

Longworth went on the narrate that Britney’s LaChappele/Rolling Stone photos were shot to “titillate”, initiate a “Lolita fantasy”, and instigate an “[...] adult sexuality into the spaces of childhood.

[...] Britney was styled in these photos, which were shot just before her 17th birthday, to titillate, and particularly to activate that specific 90s Lolita fantasy of the child who will seduce you into forgetting that having sex with her is legally and ethically out of bounds [...] The LaChappele Britney photos seem intent on reminding the viewer that you’re looking at a child, while pushing adult sexuality into the spaces of childhood.

16-Year-Old Britney Spears (LaChapelle/Rolling Stone)

However, Longworth went on to say that there are conflicting stories about the photoshoot. LaChappele related that Britney wanted to take advantage of the “Lolita thing” to “[...] get people talking and excited.” And that after Rudolph left the room, the 16-year-old mischievously “unbuttoned her shirt wide open”.

A dozen years after his photos of Britney ran alongside her first Rolling Stone profile, David LaChappele gave an interview in which he described the photoshoot as a collaboration between he and his then-16 year-old subject.

Quote: “I said to her, ‘You don’t want to be buttoned up, like Debbie Gibson…Let’s push it further and do this whole Lolita thing.’ She got it. She knew it would get people talking and excited.”

The photographer went on to describe something that happened when he was shooting Britney in her childhood bedroom at 2 a.m, ostensibly trying to get the shot of her with her exposed bra in front of all of her toys. When her manager Larry Rudolph suddenly walked in and asked what was going on, according to LaChappele, Britney acted shy and said, “Yeah, I don’t feel comfortable.” At first I felt betrayed,” he recalled. “But as soon as Larry walked out, Britney said, ‘Lock the door’ and unbuttoned her shirt wide open.”

However, per Longworth, Britney said that LaChappele “tricked” her, because she was a “naïve” 16-year-old.

This was very different from how Britney told this story. Four years after the shoot, she said of LaChappele, “He came in and did the photos and totally tricked me. They were really cool but I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. And, to be totally honest with you, at the time I was 16, so I really didn’t. I was back in my bedroom, and I had my little sweater on and he was like, ‘Undo your sweater a little bit more.’ The whole thing was about me being into dolls, and in my naïve mind I was like, ‘Here are my dolls!’ and now I look back and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, what the hell?’”

But Longworth reminded us that, per Lynne Spears, Britney’s mother, despite purporting in interviews to being a virgin, Britney lost her virginity when she was 14 - to her 18-year-old boyfriend.

The Daily Mail reported in the piece, “‘Britney started drinking at 13, lost her virginity at 14 and took drugs at 15 [...]” (4 September 2008):

Britney Spears' mother [Lynne Spears] is set to lift the lid on the troubled singer's life - with revelations [via the book Through The Storm: A Real Tale Of Fame And Family In A Tabloid World] that she was drinking at 13 and lost her virginity the following year.

Lynne Spears claims Britney was drinking not long after joining Disney's Mickey Mouse Club, a U.S. variety television show.

Mrs. Spears also says her daughter lost her virginity aged 14 to an 18-year-old high school football player soon after she quit the programme.

[...] allegedly [Britney was] caught boarding a private plane (aged 16), [when] cocaine and marijuana was found in her bag.

And per the Daily Mail, Lynne: “[...] encouraged the [teen sex] relationship because she thought it would make her more popular.” And Lynne: “[...] allowed her [i.e., 15-year-old Britney] to share her bedroom with new boyfriend, Justin Timberlake. Mrs. Spears was said to be sure the teenagers were having sex.”

Lynne’s assumption was correct, because per the Cosmopolitan piece “Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake relationship timeline” (25 October 2023), Britney revealed her in book The Woman In Me: “Justin and I had been living together, and I'd been having sex since I was 14.”

Of course, just because 16-year-old Britney had been having sex, for years, in the very same bedroom where the LaChappele/Rolling Stone cover photo was taken, doesn’t prove that LaChappele’s version of the story is correct. But does it prove that Britney was not naïve?

18-Year-Old Tavi Gevinson

Lastly, and going back to Gevinson’s “The Cut” piece, the parts of the post that relate directly to Gevinson are often contradictory. For example, Gevinson wrote that she allowed her 18-year-old self to be photographed “lying across the bed” in her “childhood bedroom” in a “romper”, because she desperately wanted to “update” her “public image as a sexually active being”.

Like Britney Spears, I was professionally photographed, lying across the bed in my childhood bedroom, when I was a teenager. I had been 18 for a month [...] I remember that the romper had symbolized, for me, my new life starting, and it’s very likely I was eager to update my public image as a sexually active being after extensively documenting an adolescence where I favored bulky layers and granny glasses. 

But in the very next paragraph, Gevinson wrote: “Still, when I see the photo now, I just see another thin white able-bodied blonde girl being sexualized.”

Wait, is Gevinson saying that she self-sexualized, she was sexualized or both. #twowaystreet