Why are the VMAs giving Britney a tribute? I thought those kind of tributes were meant for the deceased. Britney is still alive, right?
—Jamil Ahmed and Liz Hornak, via Facebook
Britney Spears' dancing may have devolved into a zombielike jumble of shuffles and feints, but I can confirm that the pop gnome herself is still alive, at least from the neck down. As for why exactly MTV has chosen Britney for a tribute—along with the late, great Amy Winehouse—I have the answer...
And that's this: The Video Music Awards are, first and foremost, a TV show. TV shows need ratings, and the kids who watch such shows really want to see a Britney tribute.
For example: On Twitter, the reactions to a Britney VMA tribute are largely more positive or neutral than negative, according to the social networking search-and-analysis outfit Topsy. The term "Britney VMA," for example, garners nearly a 40 percent positive response from the Twitterverse.
Plus, when you look at what the VMAs truly are all about, the choice makes perfect sense. She's credited with making more than 30 videos over the course of more than a decade, which is a lifetime in the pop entertainment business.
"Those video images are so ingrained on a very large chunk of pop culture and the population," points out Billboard's Keith Caulfield. "If this were the Grammys, or a lifetime achievement award, that would be different.
"If you ask anyone who grew up on MTV from 1998 forward, they would see Britney in the same way that Madonna was seen in the 1980s," Caulfield continues. "Britney was the female video-making star of that decade."
Producer Sean Garrett, who worked with Britney on her Blackout album and whose Rick Ross single "In da Box" is out on iTunes, says the tribute is almost overdue.
"A tribute doesn't mean you're retiring," he points out. "A tribute can mean, ‘Hey, you've done a lot for this culture.' You don't have to wait until someone is about to die or has been in the boondocks for 10 years.
"She's been through a lot and she's come out stronger, and that definitely warrants a tribute."
As for MTV itself, an executive producer of the VMAs recently told The Hollywood Reporter that the tribute is "about her videos, her dance and what she's done on the VMAs stage, because she's had some iconic performances and we want to tribute that."
Some iconic performances, yes. Not all, but some. That a good enough reason for you?