Spears has a lot to prove. While her life has been on the upswing in recent months -- she put an end to her child custody drama, started work on a new album and is up for three awards at Sunday's ceremony -- reports that she started drinking at age 13, lost her virginity at 14, and segued into drugs at 15, according to leaks from her mom's upcoming memoir, have cast her in a less-than-favorable light once again.
How is she going to open the VMAs? We don't know, and judging from 2007's ill-planned performance, it stands to reason that she may not either. So to give the girl some advice, ABCNews.com reached out to a panel of experts.
Comedian, star of Bravo's "My Life on the D-List"
"Brit should open the show in the exact same glittery bikini as last year, but hold out the waistband like Jared from the Subway ads showing her stunning weight loss. Clean hair extensions. And lip-synch her way back into our hearts. As long as she gets through it seemingly sober, it's on! Party with Fiddy, Diddy and all the other 'iddys. No panties required. Good luck, my pop princess."
Comedian, star of VH1's new "The Cho Sho"
"She should perform, do something new, be so amazing that she leaves us all breathless and in love, like she used to. After the VMAs, she should start doing a lot of charity work, like when Angelina Jolie was all about the land mines."
Village Voice culture critic
"Even if she just stands there eating something from Chuck E. Cheese, Britney will fare better than last year. If she's smart, she'll make a snappy joke about her '07 debacle and thereby clear all tension in the room. She can then go on to be the star we love and possibly even be the queen of the night, if she ironically ends up winning the big awards."
"I also feel she should unveil a radical image change to show how she's matured and grown. A Sarah Palin schoolmarm-from-the-tundra look would definitely get her some renewed attention (but not with a gun)."
Great-granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post, author of "How Do You Work This Life Thing?"
"She's shown the world that she can be outrageous. She's done the kiss with Madonna, she's done the big snake. Now's the time to simply show she's the girl who can come out, deliver lines, host professionally and get off the stage.
"Now would be the perfect time for her to show a very simple, a very positive and a very professional side of herself. She shouldn't joke too much about what she's been through. If MTV's writers throw in jokes about her recent troubles, she herself should take them with a grain of salt. When she's onstage, she should give a smile and a wink, acknowledge her past but show she's happy to be here now."
E! Online gossip columnist
"If she asked my advice, I'd tell her to stay home. It's too soon. She needs a standout, comeback performance. And if you ask me, this isn't it. It's too closely associated with that disastrous performance a year ago, and she's not back in top form yet. An 'Oh hey, b*tch is here!' is not going to cut it."
Slideshow archive | Local events | Contests | Headlines at a glance