by Andreas Saugstad

Some believe Britney Spears is one of the greatest teen heroes in the world today. She is famous for her records “…Baby one more time” (1999) and “Oops…I Did It Again” (2000). Britney is only a teenager, but is already, rich, famous, and no doubt she is very beautiful.

Britney Spears (b. 1981) grew up in Kentwood in USA, a place with less than 1000 inhabitants, The Britney hysteria is all over the world now. On the internet more than 9000 men have signed up as potential husbands for Britney. 19 year old Barry from LA calls Britney Spears “a goddess among women,” while Dan from Shatytown says he becomes “warm and dizzy” when he thinks of young Britney.

In Europe, which after all is supposed to be less crazy than Northern America, Britney is all over the media. But the most tragic Britney incident happened in New York, when a woman died because she saw a Britney copy. The Radio station WMRV-FM wanted to promote themselves by associating with Britney Spears, and they hired a Britney look-alike for the arrangement. A 37 year old woman from New York got so excited by thinking that Britney was present that she died from a heart attack. A life is scarified on the altar of Ms. Spears – a symptom of a culture marked by an insane interest in the superficial and external.

Recently Britney was offered $7.5 million dollars for a night with an American multi-millionaire. But Britney refused the offer! Britney is a virgin, and she has publicly announced that she refuses to have sex before marriage. Her ex-boyfriend Reg Jones says that Britney could have been given a billion for her virginity and she wouldn’t have taken it! A spokesman for Britney recently told DOTMUSIC.COM that she is a Christian and that she has made her own choice.

When it comes to the one-night-stand offer, one might wonder what is right or wrong here. I certainly do respect Britney for her personal integrity. One might, however, wonder why Britney shows so much of her body in her videos, when she at the same time has this (admirable) puritan attitude to sex? In saw on MTV that in one of her videos that she was wearing next to nothing, but in her personal life her sexual morality is almost monastic. I don’t see how the two attitudes expressed here go well together. One might wonder who is ruling Britney’s life here, and if commercial interests have taken control over her life.

Post Nietzsche many of us sometimes wonder what is right or wrong. I cannot see that any moral rule should be followed just because it is a moral rule. The British philosopher John Stuart Mill challenged the idea hat ethics should be based on rules alone. According to Mill, morality is not primarily a matter of rules and imperatives, it has to do with consequences and utility.

Mills’ position is called “utilitarianism.” According to the utilitarian, an action is right and morally acceptable if it leads to the best consequences for the totality of conscious beings that exist. Thus, utilitarians emphasize the consequences of the actions.

Now think of what Britney Spears could have done with the money she was offered. She could have accepted the offer and gotten all that money, and given it away. From a consequensialist point of view, that would have been plausible. The world is full of starving people, uneducated persons, sickness like AIDS or cancer, and If Britney had gotten all that money and given it away she could have promoted the collective good.

I am not saying if Britney did the wrong thing. It is a crazy world with some people starving and dying of AIDS, while others like Britney get everything they want. From a utilitarian point of view, however, one might wonder whether Britney did the right thing.

[P.S. After this article originally was published, Britney performed on the MTV Video Music Awards on September 8, 2000. At this show she entered with a dress exposing vital parts of her body. She later performed in a small bikini, showing even more of these parts of her body. I now doubt whether Britney Spears really has any personal integrity with regards to sexual ethics. Either someone is exploiting and controlling Britney, or the Britney Spears story reveals hypocrisy of the highest order.]