| Hilary Duff: The latest pop star to emerge from the Disney Channel (courtesy photos)
Britney Spears doesn't often make sense, but she had a solid point a few months ago when she responded to claims that her racy new material was a far cry from the sweet teenage girl whom MTV's Total Request Live viewers fell in love with five years ago.
As Spears pointed out, the sexual tease was part of her arsenal from the beginning, with the tartan schoolgirl uniform and leering innuendo of 1999's "...Baby One More Time" video - a concept that Spears reportedly hatched over her director's objections. So while the entertainment media gasped at the thought of Britney smoking a cigarette (What a bad example!) or giving the middle-finger salute to Mexican paparazzi (Where are her manners?), Spears blithely snuck porn scenarios into her best-loved videos. She might have played the bubbly romantic at times, but Spears never really wanted to be America's sweetheart; she much preferred to be its Lolita-next-door.
|On the cover of her 2003 debut CD (not counting an earlier Christmas disc), Metamorphosis, the 16-year-old Houstonian looks like a Madame Tussaud interpretation of Spears: serious, but waxwork-vacant.|
On the cover of her 2003 debut CD (not counting an earlier Christmas disc), Metamorphosis, the 16-year-old Houstonian looks like a Madame Tussaud interpretation of Spears: serious, but waxwork-vacant. Unlike Spears, however, who used kid-oriented television as a mere stepping stone to a recording career, Duff owes everything - including her public persona - to Lizzie McGuire. As the relentlessly cute but not quite popular Lizzie, Duff is an idealized everygirl: an older sister for every 12-year-old girl and a safe crush for every 12-year-old boy. She's average, but glamorous at the same time.
Consider the plot for The Lizzie McGuire Movie, a sleeper theatrical hit in 2003. In the movie, McGuire goes on a trip to Italy, where she's mistaken for an Italian pop diva. It's the perfect contrivance for her audience. It allows them to experience Duff as both normal teen and megawatt star, and to project themselves into Lizzie's brush with celebrity.
The album also features one contribution from Meredith "I'm a bitch" Brooks, who proves - as has 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry - that schlocky one-hit wonders never die, they just become teen-pop writers/producers. Brooks' "Party Up" is as adult as Duff gets on this album, with its Sly Stone-influenced bridge: "You roll me, you use me, you love me and then/You wrap me up and reel me in and use me again."
| Hilary Duff |
Saturday, January 10
100 Auditorium Circle
But because Duff is so inextricably tied to her TV character, she risks a backlash anytime her own behavior is less than Lizzie-esque. She recently said of McGuire: "I'm very close to the character, and she's such a good role model for young people to look up to." Last month, however, Duff reportedly revealed a more imperious side, when she angrily demanded that Freaky Friday star Lindsay Lohan be removed from a premiere party for Duff's latest film, Cheaper By the Dozen. The feud stems from the fact that tweener star Aaron Carter left Lohan for Duff - making Duff and Carter the Tiger Beat power couple of the moment.
As Duff herself sings: People try to put her down, just because she gets around. They need to remember that she's not trying to cause a big sensation. She's just talking 'bout her generation. •