I used to think Britney Spears was a secret genius.
An auspicious debut, her famous “virginity,” the Timberlake chronicles, a well-timed smooch with Madonna — it was all so masterfully plotted, so expertly timed to keep her in the limelight. She had to be pretty crafty to map this meteoric rise to the top of the teen pop pantheon (and the world!), right? Yes — and I admired her for it.