Pop Rocks: No One to Blame for Rebecca Black but Ourselves

Categories: Pop Rocks

rebecca-black.jpg
Rebecca Black WANTS YOU to keep Twittering about her.
The Internet is a strange place. Its most dominant and pervasive bandwidth hogs are spam and porn, both completely voluntary (people actually open those Nigerian money request e-mails or they wouldn't still be sending them). It drives news cycles, turning what was, just 25 years ago, something we got from a 30-minute news segment or a daily newspaper into a minute-by-minute first-person story.

Movies, television shows and music are consumed en masse by voracious pop culture addicts who will soon store more music than they could listen to in a lifetime on some remote server they will never actually see or touch.

Perhaps most notable is how fascinated we are with the mundane and the curious. It's like a giant museum of the weird and we all sit transfixed by the morbid, the pointless and the randomly entertaining. It is a place where celebrity takes on a whole different meaning. An Internet superstar with a million followers on Twitter might be a complete unknown to the vast majority of everyday Americans. Ask Neil Gaiman.

As a result, we are occasionally blessed with a bona-fide YouTube sensation like Rebecca Black.

Black made a video, aided by a record label whose sole clientele consists of teens. YouTube music careers, all 15 minutes of them, are built on the backs of kids who love Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, both of whom have actual talent despite the derogatory comments to the contrary you can find all over the net, and Black is cashing in, her song "Friday" quickly climbing the iTunes charts on the strength of that video that has been viewed more than 10 million times.

The laundry list song about the perils of being a kid who eats cereal, lives in the suburbs and likes "fun, fun, fun" while "kicking in the back seat" is an example of truly awful music marketed directly at teenagers who change interests as often as they change their pink hair clips. 

Kids are easy targets. They like whatever is "fun, fun, fun" and anything new. Most of us were the same way when we were her age. Some of us didn't have the Internet and the breakneck pace of a world built on technology, but we bounced around from topic to topic and thought to thought in the same ADD way kids do now. We just did it without the laptop and the Ritalin.

Black is not to blame for the popularity of her song. Neither is she an example of how misguided the youth of today is. Every era had shitty music and is littered with examples of "artists" who didn't deserve to earn five dollars for their work, let alone sell a million records. 

For every "Friday," there was a "Disco Duck," a "Mickey," a "Monster Mash" and so on. There was an entire genre of popular culture artificially created in the sixties around safe, sexless romps on the beach. It was as popular then as Black and her ilk are now.

What is different about Black, besides the way her meteoric rise occurred, is that someone like her could reach the level of "success" she has almost purely on irony.

The overwhelming majority of people who Twittered about her and posted her video on Facebook did it purely to point out how bad Black is and how we should all be outraged over this latest example of the death of youth culture in America. It's like shouting for all the world to hear about something you hate only to popularize it by accident.

We all know what a travesty it is that Arrested Development got canceled while Survivor remains on the air. We've all heard that Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair," catchy as it may be, should never outpace the popularity of whatever cool indie band Pitchfork tells us we have to like despite their ceaseless droning keyboards and Morrissey knockoff fronting the band (it's art, man!). But, ranting about it in an extremely public forum -- the technological equivalent of a megaphone that can be heard from space -- won't fix the problem and, more importantly, it makes you look like an asshole.

Access to the same technology that allows turds like "Friday" to be made and disseminated also provides all the would-be critics, most of whom have neither the discipline nor the good sense to critique anything with even a small measure of credibility, a platform for preaching about the next big disaster to the yearning masses. It's equal opportunity bullshit and we're all guilty.

We say, let Black and her teenage friends have their "fun, fun, fun" "kicking in the back seat." They'll do that with or without us anyway and the less we intervene, the more likely crap like "Friday" will fade quickly into the background like every Blues Image and Lipps, Inc. that came before it (look them up). As comedian Chris Rock once said of the music business, "You know what they say? Here today, gone today!" All we have to do is keep our damn Twitter mouths shut.

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19 comments
Erin Parker
Erin Parker

people get kinda snarky about this. personally, i'm just happy you spotlighted the amazing-ness that was Arrested Development. The world just wasn't ready...

Fresh Prince
Fresh Prince

Cant you get that its educational: If today is Friday, then Thursday was yesterday, Saturday is tomorrow and Sunday comes after that. We we we we so excited.

Thursday Girl
Thursday Girl

Come on, Balke - where have you been?? I've had this as my ringtone since since Tuesday. We we we so excited!!!!

DanJC
DanJC

Rebecca Black = Robin Sparkles

lover_of_lame_music
lover_of_lame_music

You list some of her lyrics as "an example of truly awful music " and later call it a "turd" while at the same time linking her video. But you don't like it when other people do it because it will make them look like an "asshole"?

B Schreiber
B Schreiber

Thing is, it's really no worse than any other Brittany Lavigne song out there. It just follows a well-crafted archetype that's been used over and over and over again. Honestly, put her in the hands of a good producer and add a little vocal processing and what's the difference between this and any other frothy pop thing for teens?

Jimb
Jimb

It's supply and demand, publicity is only the vehicle that delivers, it's still the consumer that controls the success or failure of something at the end of the day. If there were no vacuous douchebags to consume tripe, then tripe would never be successful no matter how much publicity it got.

I do love the irony though, in you doing what you're complaining about as Shannon pointed out. I Googled Rebecca Black, and this article was the top news link.

Anies
Anies

Shanon is right, you completely contradicted yourself. lmfao

Kdufs
Kdufs

Friday fun , fun ,fun

Saturday- Blood oozing from ears

Thursday Girl
Thursday Girl

Also (yes, I know I'm replying to my own post - don't care) this little ditty was crafted by Ark, a "production company" that caters to well-off parents of tweens who dream of being pop stars. It's a basically a vanity production. They whisk the girls to L.A. for 5 days of recording, video production and the pop-star treatment. If you check YouTube, you can find a whole bunch of their vanity vids (all equally awful and auto-tuned) on there. Poor Miss Black, just had the misfortune of being discovered and singled out by the Daily What. This was never intended for mass release - it's just a meme that should, hopefully, go away within a week.

Jim C
Jim C

Exactly. That was the very first thought I had.

Look for her next video to be centered around a mall.

Adam Gorley
Adam Gorley

In other words, rather than engage in debate with the author about the issue at hand, you'd prefer to point out something completely inane and unoriginal (and not even correct).

Could you explain what the author even said?

Jeff
Jeff

Yes, because, as I said in the story, I have no problem with her or with anyone who wants to like the video. Live and let live. But I didn't link to anyone who complained about how horrible it is, which was my point.

MASSMURDERMEDIA
MASSMURDERMEDIA

thank you... i sure as hell will not accept responsibility for this abomination... the old "it's society's fault" excuse... if anyone is to blame, it's her stage mom/dad who not only put her in this position to begin with, but allow inane media outlets to interview her about this tripe... 5 years from now when she's facing rehab and/or jail time, they can blame the media...

Justice Tirapelli-Jamail
Justice Tirapelli-Jamail

Yeah, Jeff. Guest is right. You should be ashamed of yourself. Encouraging us all to just move on with our lives in the face of such mediocrity, using a popular song to explain your point, and then linking the video to the song in question, thus citing your example? As if it's some organized piece of pop-culture journalism? And without using the correct twitter terminology, no less. You make me sick...

Guest
Guest

No, you are another person that said how horrible it is, "The more likely CRAP like "Friday" will fade" (Emphasis Added). You are pointing out that you have a problem with the video throughout your post. So, you do completely contradict yourself. Furthermore, Tweet is the word that you are searching for.

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