Rapper Kanye West came to Britney Spears' defense yesterday, saying that her disastrous appearance at the MTV Music Awards could have been avoided if the show's organizers hadn't pushed her to perform. "Man, they were just trying to get ratings," West said. "They knew she wasn't ready and they exploited her."

Spears performed her new single “Gimme More” in an appearance that was supposed to launch her comeback. But she appeared uneasy on stage, and was promptly panned by critics who said she moved her lips out of synch with the song, and at times even stopped singing entirely.

What's shocking is that there is "anything more to say about Britney Spears at this point," said Rebecca Traister in Salon.com. Britney's "sad fate" has always provided an example of society's need to "sexualize and spoil" women when they're young, and "degrade and punish" as they get older. Now we see she also represents the "youthful feminine willingness" to "conform to the culture's every humiliating expectation of her."

Spears’ “lethargic movements” looked like they were “choreographed by a dance instructor for a nursing home,” said the Associated Press on CNN.com. The appearance was supposed to launch Spears out of her train-wreck of a life and “drum up excitement for her upcoming album.” Instead, the “night became another example of how far she has fallen.”

They say that whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, said Dan Aquilante in the New York Post. If only that were true. Then the world would never have known about Spears’ “totally lame” performance. Spears was “stuffed into a spangled bra and hot pants and jiggled like Jell-O as she sleepwalked through the song.” And to make matters worse, “she didn't seem to care that she danced like she had a pantload.”

Sure, the show went “splat,” said Rashod Ollison in the Baltimore Sun. But Spears has been through a lot recently—“shaving her head, entering and leaving rehab, attacking a photographer's car with an umbrella, and driving around with an infant on her lap.” You can’t blame her for losing some of the enthusiasm that made her past appearances on the MTV stage so memorable—remember the 2003 lip-lock with Madonna? Perhaps “she still had a lot on her mind.”