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Creating Britney Spears' artificial comeback

Back? Did she go away?

Britney's PR people are determined to bring her back to the top - but to her fans, it's like she's been there the whole time.

No matter how average her music may be or what happened in her past, the "haters" are unlikely to stop Britney Spears' mass-marketed return to glory.

Britney's simply doing what she has always done!

Britney Spears is back. We've heard that before. But this time there is at least some empirical evidence - her new single, Womanizer, leaped to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart this week from No. 96 last week.

Never mind that the song is just like her other songs (the 2005-present collection, even, not even vintage Britney) and Spears' breathy utterances can barely be described as singing on her very best day.

This is because Britney Spears is indestructible. She is the Barack Obama of celebrity gossip - no matter what is thrown at her, it doesn't stick...at all.

She has reached a point where she is part of the fabric of our society. Any criticism of her is met with an all-out assault.

Much of this is due to her record label, managers and producers, who are creating a cult of personality around Britney Spears far more grandiose than any actual accomplishment she can muster nowadays.

There is the new album, Circus. The hilariously rigged MTV VMAs, at which she won three for her mediocre work on Blackout. The behind-the-scenes promotional photos. An "all access" documentary on the making of Circus. There was the debut of the "too hot for TV" first single, which nevertheless aired on 20/20. And it wasn't exactly a slow news week.

All of this has cultivated a loyalty and defensiveness among Britney fans - of which there are still a considerable number. It's as if this is 2000 and Spears is still this virginal (or at least claiming to be virginal), global sensation.

Those upskirt pics, divorces, shaved heads and hospitalizations? In their minds, they didn't happen. Breathe even a word of that and prepare to be met with "Leave her alone! OMG she looks so good! Team Britney!" and other witty replies.

Somehow, Britney Spears has become an icon. In the eyes of her fans, Britney can do wrong, which ensures this "comeback" has already succeeded. How can we even call it a comeback if she's never fallen off their imaginary pedestal?

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