Thirteen-year-old Anaheim, Calif., eighth-grader Rebecca Black has a hit pop song, “Friday,” but that doesn’t mean she is loved by the public. In fact, the overall tone of comments Black has received via social media has been hateful in the extreme. Yet as Meghan Daum suggests in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece, that’s how you know you’ve “made it.”
The truth about the Rebecca Black ‘Friday’ meme
As a non-professional signer with minimal singing lessons, Rebecca Black’s rise to YouTube stardom is a noteworthy accomplishment, says Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone. As he told Us Magazine:
“As far as I’m concerned, Rebecca Black has already made a great pop song. That’s more than most musicians achieve in an entire career.”
Setting the artistic merits of “Friday” aside, the social media response to Rebecca Black’s dream-making pop music turn with the Los Angeles-based Ark Music Factory has been rough. Despite 42 million-plus views on YouTube and breaking into the top 20 singles on iTunes, online comments have been extreme:
“I hope you cut yourself… I hope you’ll get an eating disorder so you’ll look pretty, and I hope you go cut and die”
One very telling comment said:
“We don’t hate you because you’re famous. You’re famous because we hate you.”
We hate that you’re performing on TV — and we’re watching
Tuesday, Rebecca Black performed “Friday” on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” — not what one might expect when a song is being called the “worst song ever.” You be the judge:
Some consider the song’s lyrics and musical styles to be a confused mess, but what is crystal clear is that Rebecca Black and her mother, who paid the $2,000 tab with Ark Music Factory, are in this for attention. YouTube made it possible to reach a massive audience. Much of that audience has recoiled in horror, but it is still an audience.
The negativity frightened Rebecca Black at first, writes Daum, but exposure healed all wounds.
“I think that’s an accomplishment,” said Black. “Even a person that doesn’t like it. It’s gonna be stuck in their heads. … That’s the point of it.”
Hate as public validation
More than any other medium today, social networking sites give individuals the chance to receive near-instant feedback. Provoking others into a response has blurred the lines between love and hate to the point that they are essentially the same. Daum suggests that young people today know this on an unconscious level; it’s part and parcel of living in the Internet era, where page views measure popularity, even if someone is showing up to throw the digital version of rotten fruit and vegetables.
However, if it’s true what philosophy Prof. Douglas Howie of North Lake College in Irving, Texas, says about social media – that it has cheapened interpersonal relationships – then Rebecca Black may very well be a new test case. If hate has lost its meaning in the scramble for attention, is love equally meaningless?
Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/la-oe-daum-black-20110324,0,3822970.column
Rebecca Black at Ark Music Factory: http://arkmusicfactory.com/profile/rebeccablack
US Magazine: http://www.usmagazine.com/moviestvmusic/news/rebecca-black-tells-us-shes-donating-friday-proceeds-to-japan-2011243
Ark Music Factory: An echo chamber for aspiring talent
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