First Things Goes Pop

Father Neuhaus weighs in on Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston:

“About her skimpy outfits and racy lyrics, I don’t know. But good for Britney Spears for letting her baby be born. And good for Daniel Edwards for celebrating that. As for the pro-lifers who are letting their prudery obscure their message, they should think again.”

Granted, prudery doesn’t make for good art. Still, I think it worth noting this bit from the article I linked to:

“The monument also acknowledges the pop-diva’s pin-up past by showing Spears seductively posed on all fours atop a bearskin rug with back arched, pelvis thrust upward, as she clutches the bear’s ears with ‘water-retentive’ hands.”

See, here’s why I suspect some folks are up in arms: Britney Spears traded on her status as a virgin sexpot harder than any pop star I can remember. I’m not gonna link to the billions of photos that are out there, but let’s recall just one – the shot from David Lachapelle which pictured young Britney playing even younger, her arm ringed with jelly bracelets, pushing a kid’s bike and giving a doe-eyed look over her shoulder, with “Baby” written on the backside of her white short-shorts in silver rivets. The pop-diva as jailbait. Delightful. (No, I don’t have a thing for Britney – I remember the image as well as I do because it horrified me, and I wrote about it.)

I’m kinda glad the sculpture acknoledges her “pin-up past,” but I can see why pro-lifers might not be so excited about their new champion. Not to get all literalistic on artist Edwards, but I don’t think anybody gives birth with their “back arched, pelvis thrust upward” – not even the “natural childbirth” people who might advocate delivering while on all fours. If they’re mad, it’s probably because the sculpture looks more like a pregnant centerfold than a birthing mother. Not to say, of course, that a pregnant centerfold can’t be a birthing mother – just that she probably won’t look like this when the baby’s head is crowning. I suppose it could be Edwards’ notion of idealizing the female form.

What say you?


  1. Anonymous says

    Hey, where is the link to the angle we really want to see?

  2. Anonymous says

    Well, until Matthew posts that, here’s something to tide you over.

  3. I am a “natural childbirth” mama and I don’t recall that position from Lamaze class. Didn’t Mama Spears ask for and have a C-Section ? The whole piece baffles me…

    As for her past, I agree with Matthew. Watching 7 year olds sing her lyrics (avec her “dance” moves) is frightening.

    For awhile, Louisiana, near Kentwood, had Britney on billboards for Pepsi with these words,”The Pride of Louisiana.”


  4. Steve Nicoloso says

    I’ve commented on this elsewhere, but I’ll say it again here. I think the genius of the sculpture (whatever amount that may be) is that it marries the erotic with its natural end. The idealized depiction of one of the most immediately recognizable sex symbols plays a big part of that marriage. For any man who’s stopped, or might be tempted to stop a moment to concentrate on the mental picture of Ms. Spears in that position, the sculpture provides an answer as to why. If sex is beautiful, then so must be childbirth. Seeing it in one picture is difficult, but worth a try. Sometimes there can be a very fine line between porn and edification.

    If anonymous wishes, he may by the power of google find the desired “money” angle. As advertised it displays a baby’s head crowning. Reality bites.

    Elsewhere, some have suggested that this position might be useful for “back” labor, but I think the artist just chose the position because it is 1) naturally seductive, and 2) at least plausible for natural childbirth. For the record, Ms. Spears had a scheduled C to deliver the baby, and as near as I can tell did not authorize the sculpture. But she chose to have the baby (and now another) at a very young age for a pop diva. Her career will surely suffer for it (she’s already made herself Public Enemy of the Lifestyle Left), so I think she sends a good message: have babies, it’s a major sacrifice, but you’ll be blessed.

  5. Matthew Lickona says

    Thanks for your comment. I never meant to suggest that this sculpture was pornographic, sorry if it seemed otherwise.

  6. Matthew Lickona says

    Now this is getting interesting. I see your point. But couldn’t somebody object to this piece on precisely the grounds you lay out? Couldn’t someone protest that it’s bad art because it lies – it fails to tell the truth about human sexuality – that the fantasy doesn’t endure. That the female body is often distorted from its idealized form by pregnancy. That childbirth – the fulfillment of sex – is often deeply unsexy, with the woman about as far from pleasure as you can get. That the fantasy must ultimately give way to a love of reality, or else there’s going to be trouble.

    I’m not taking this position myself – I haven’t thought enough about it – but I thought it worth tossing out there.

  7. Steve Nicoloso says

    Hmmm… Oh no, I wasn’t suggesting that you suggested it was pornographic, but rather simply that it is so very close to being purely pornographic. The depiction childbirth alone (one “minor detail”) is what saves it from being pure porn.

    Hmmm… well I s’pose art lies if we understand it to be telling a lie–but what if the art announces beforehand that it is telling us the lie? Then it might be said to be telling the truth, e.g., “I’m going to tell you a lie right now: childbirth is sexy.” I’m not saying that’s what the artist is “saying”. Somehow I doubt it. But, in general, “truthful” art could work that way.

    All we know for sure is that the artist, Edwards, sees his work as a “monument” to “pro-life”. Beyond that, it seems likely he’s willing to let us take away whatever we get. The thing I take away, i.e., the thing I think Edwards is saying, is examine yourself: If the image of Britney Spears posed seductively (receptively) on all fours makes you all… shall we say… supremely interested, and the idea of a baby’s head coming out of the “target region” sends you running to the porcelain throne, well then you really have mentally and emotionally divorced sex from its natural end… which is… in the end… rather unnatural… which is just about how all sex is nowadays.

  8. Anonymous says

    or it could be saying, not that childbirth is sexy or sexual, but that a woman can be pregnant and have children and still not lose her sexuality. that a woman who chooses life doesn’t necessarily by that choice, give up being a sexual person. maybe the inexorable link actually goes the other way….that in fact something we often think of as “sending us running for the porcelain throne” really should be seen as a the ultimate sexual climax, a child emerging as a direct result…which i think is the same thing steve is saying just looking at it from the other angle.

Speak Your Mind