Why Was Britney So Bad?

Britney Spears' lack of handlers may have led her to bomb at MTV's VMAs.

ByABC News
February 12, 2009, 8:12 AM

Sept. 10, 2007 — -- Britney Spears tried to do it again. She failed miserably.

Only six years ago, at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, the pop star caused a national sensation when she strutted across the stage crooning "I'm a Slave 4 U," a larger-than-life snake slithering above her taut abs.

At last night's VMAs, Spears also made jaws drop, but for entirely different reasons.

Kicking off the Las Vegas show with her new single, "Gimmie More," Spears appeared be acting out the classic nightmare of arriving at a party and realizing you're naked while people point and laugh. She seemed to sleepwalk through her routine, flailing her arms and failing to synch her lips with the subpar dance ditty blasting through the speakers. Her sequined bra/panty costume confirmed that like her former pop-star magnetism, those abs of yore are now just a memory.

What exactly went wrong? According to entertainment show "Extra," reports speculate that Spears' original act, inspired by illusionist Criss Angel, was nixed by MTV before the show. "In the initial meetings that we had, I gave my professional creative advice ... but I stepped out of the picture ... it's going to be interesting to see if they took my advice," Angel told "Extra" in anticipation of the performance.

Spears was a sad sight, but considering her personal and professional trials over the past year, that might have been expected.

She checked in and out of rehab twice. She shaved her head bald in an apparent breakdown. She divorced Kevin Federline. And she split from the manager and handlers who made her a star, which was a huge mistake, according to Hollywood agent Marc Bass.

"I think she probably should get a whole new team around her," he said. "She should've never been up there in her underwear."

Some critics say Spears' lack of handlers is no excuse for her abysmal performance. In an "open letter" to Spears posted on his Web site, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton lashed out at the pop star, calling her act "disrespectful" to her remaining fans and MTV.