NSFW: Was Britney Spears Bamboozled Into Virtual Child Porn Protest Art?

Britney Spears is on the cover of British publication Pop Magazine. The images, the work of one of Japan's most famous artists, feature Britney in a bathing suit and a wedding dress. If only it were that simple. It's not.

The photos were art directed by Takashi Murakami, who is often referred to as "The Andy Warhol of Japan" for his pop-infused art. Murakami draws from manga and anime to create his work, which has adorned everything from Louis Vuitton bags to Kanye West albums.

In the interview, Spears says she is a Murakami fan. "I loved working with Takashi," she said. "I especially liked how he took high-end fashion and incorporated it with Japanese manga."

NSFW: Was Britney Spears Bamboozled Into Virtual Child Porn Protest Art?

No word whether Spears especially likes the Japanese manga the photos seem to refer to: "My Wife Is A Grade Schooler". Back when the Tokyo Municipal government was looking to ban the questionable depictions of underage characters in anime, manga and video games, My Wife Is A Grade Schooler, an out of print manga, was fingered as an example of a work that depicted young characters in an inappropriate manner.

When the manga was shown on television, yellow Post-its were used to cover the suggestive bits. However, the Post-its made the manga appear more suggestive than it actually is. The manga itself is considered a "gag manga" and even social criticism. It apparently isn't as bad as it looks, and some said the way it was handled on TV was political scapegoating. The cover of "My Wife Is A Grade Schooler" (pictured) echoes the imagery used in the Spears' photographs. Same red backpack, same blue bathing, wedding dress.

NSFW: Was Britney Spears Bamboozled Into Virtual Child Porn Protest Art?

This is no accident. Murakami and Seiji Matsuyama, the author of My Wife Is A Grade Schooler, have been talking on Twitter about the photographs in relationship to the erotic manga. And Matsuyama linked the Pop Magazine photographs on his website. Matsuyama even called the photos a "Takashi Murakami x Britney Spears x My Wife Is A Grade Schooler collaboration". According to Murakami's tweets, this is a project to show that these type of manga are Art.

"As the Seiji Matsuyama incident became a symbol of the virtual child problem," Murakami tweeted after the photos were made public, "I thought it should be immortalized as an artistic event to be marked in history. I am an artist. Because of this, I did what artists do."

NSFW: Was Britney Spears Bamboozled Into Virtual Child Porn Protest Art?

Whether the virtual child legislation should have passed or whether these images are art or are pornography is beyond the scope of this article. What is at issue here is whether Britney Spears was in on the plan? Did she know what exactly she was participating in? That the imagery in those photographs is connected to what some critics are calling child pornography?

Kotaku has reached out to the singer's management, but the fact that Britney might not have known she was involved in this protest plot makes the images that much more compelling. Spears made a career by mining and exploiting Western stereotypes about young girls. Here, she is used to memorialize a Japanese political issue over the depiction of underage characters with loaded imagery. Then again, this is someone who became a MTV superstar by dressing as a schoolgirl Lolita.

NSFW: Was Britney Spears Bamboozled Into Virtual Child Porn Protest Art?

Britney Spears's manager Adam Leber has been on Twitter asking people what they thought of the layout, calling the photos "very different and fresh". Currently, the images are the background on Spears's Twitter. "I just saw the photos for the first time and they are beautiful," Spears tweeted on August. "Comes out Sept. 1st".

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