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Britney's 'If You Seek Amy' has a long lineage

I ran across this fascinating story on Slate today by Jesse Sheidlower, an editor-at-large of the "Oxford English Dictionary," about the dirty-minded literary and dramatic predecessors to Britney Spears. This will probably be the only time you'll read the singer's name in the same headline as Shakespeare and James Joyce.

Spears' latest music video, for a song called "If You Seek Amy," is a blatant attempt to squeeze a suggestive four-letter word into crassness-averse mainstream media outlets. Though some of them, apparently, have reservations about playing it.

Spears, Sheidlower tells us, is hardly the first to have thought of such a play on words. James Joyce, he writes, used the same device in "Ulysses" to embed the four-letter word in question and an even more offensive word, to boot. And even before Joyce, Shakespeare used a bit of dialog in "Twelfth Night" to suggest some similarly undignified language. Kudos to Sheidlower for his thorough research on the topic.

Just to get a sense of what Britney's talking about, take a glimpse at the video in question:

What's your take?

--Colin Dabkowski



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