America has once again exposed its puritanical roots by objecting to an on-stage kiss on the cheek between Rihanna and Britney Spears at the recent BillBoard Music Awards.

Spears made a surprise appearance towards the end of a live performance by Rihanna of the song S&M. She joined in the song and ended off the performance with a mock pillow fight, after which Rihanna kissed Spears on the cheek.

The kiss was not shown on television as the camera cut to the audience. In the US media, the kiss was immediately compared to the notorious Madonna and Britney lip-on-lip smooch at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.

The conservative Parents Television Council (PTC) slammed the performance. “I cannot imagine what would possibly lead the ABC television network to air a profanity-laced, S&M sex show on primetime broadcast television,” said PTC president Tim Winter in a statement.

Music fans were, however, more critical of Spears’ clumsy performance, which was described as lacklustre, many commenting that, unlike Rihanna, Spears was lip-synching – badly. The singer’s dancing was also described as “awkward”.

Long-time Spears defender Chris Crocker commented: “I don’t know if she is on medication or if that’s affecting her… I just know it’s hard to watch.”

He added: “I kept it real when I told the world to leave Britney alone and I’m keeping it real when I’m telling Britney she needs to leave the stage alone… She doesn’t look happy onstage. That’s not me criticising her as a person. That’s me criticising her as a performer…”

Watch the performance below and tell us what you think. Are people being too hard on Britney Spears?

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