Josh, your argument
that hi-tech production in pop is the equivalent of special effects in big budget movies seems to rest on two apparent "givens": one, that pop music is the equivalent of big budget Hollywood movies, and two, that pop songs are narratives to which production provides a sort of tangential spectacle.
What seems to be taken for granted is that just because, say, a Britney Spears song sounds expensive, it's therefore expensive to produce. This is clearly untrue - sure Max Martin will get a hefty cheque because he's a commercially successful producer, but there's nothing in Britney songs technologically beyond the grasp of a bedroom techno producer. Timbaland's R&B might sound futuristic, but so do UK Garage white labels made for pence.
The indie film culture is at least partially underwritten by the idea that aspiring filmmakers who are denied access to the sort of funding that a studio will provide will necessarily compensate by concentrating on those aspects of the film that don't require a big budget (script, direction, acting), which is given scant attention in Hollywood films. However, in indie music, the preference given to "natural" or "lo-fi" production is an aesthetic, not economic choice. It's generally driven by a set of ideas not unrelated to heirachal dualism, dictating that low-fi sounds are somehow more honestly musical than hi-tech ones. But since a reverbed guitar or a dusty sampled hip hop beat add essentially the same sort of musical colouring as a crunchy Max Martin backing track, arguably those who listen to indie rock/hip hop are just as interested in "special effects" as pop fans.
Furthermore, I'd be the first to admit that generally pop song lyrics are less than insightful (though it's all about context - Mya's lyrics in "Best Of Me" would mean nothing to me on paper, but within the song they sound great), but they're hardly supposed to be. While scripts for films can stand up quite well by themselves, who honestly sits down and reads the lyric sheets for songs with the expectation that enlightenment awaits? I mean, apart from Morrissey fans.
Ultimately I reckon what producers like Max Martin bring to a pop song is similar to what auteurs like Quentin Tarantino bring to the films they direct but don't necessarily write - stylistic and thematic concerns that perhaps aren't present in the script but later come to dominate the final product. And those concerns include special effects, but are hardly limited to it. The only recent film I can think of where the special effects could be held up as comparable to the production in pop is The Matrix, which used its special effects in a stylised fashion that dominated even intellectual discourse surrounding the film, and like the production in successful pop songs has been copied shamelessly since its release.