Teen not at fault for bad publicity
March 22, 2011
Today is Wednesday. Two days later, it’s “Friday, Friday, Friday.” That’s bothering a lot of people lately.
The hoopla started a few weeks ago when YouTube received “Friday,” a music video starring 13-year-old Rebecca Black that’s visually on par for MTV, but left much to be desired lyrically.
As of Tuesday, “Friday” is in the iTunes Top 20 downloads, and it’s got 34.5 million views on YouTube. I’m guessing it hits 50 million before April 2, when we officially find out it wasn’t an elaborate prank. I still think that’s the case with the “Twilight” movies.
Before then, a few quick points about “Friday,” and, I guess, ourselves:
Are the lyrics really that bad? I think they’re bad.“Gotta be fresh/Gotta go downstairs/Gotta have my bowl/Gotta have cereal” is a lyric, and one of the hooks is, “Kickin’ in the front seat/Sittin’ in the back seat/Gotta make my mind up/Which seat can I take?”
But that’s not the argument. The argument is, are they THAT bad? Drew Grant argues no on Salon.com. He reminds us of five recent hit songs with lyrics that are just as questionable.
A one-to-one comparison can always make a point, and Grant makes some good ones. But it’s a zero-sum endeavor to judge what song’s No. 1,342,892 and what song’s No. 1,342,893.
I’ll just settle for bad, but also remember “bad” doesn’t mean “unpopular” in music. Doling out recognition for the lyrics best at insulting their audiences is pointless, frustrating and is already known as “The Grammy Awards.”
Isn’t it the Internet’s fault? Well, kinda, but ...
An article a coworker found Monday night derided not Black or her family, but the Internet hordes for doing the online version of, “Taste this, see if it’s bad.”
The publicity model doesn’t know the difference between passing a bad link to five friends and a good link to five friends. It just knows, “Add five.”
I don’t dispute the model, but that doesn’t absolve people who try to exploit it for personal or financial gain. When you upload a video where everybody can see it ... well, everybody can see it. YouTube’s not a smart bomb. You’ll get friends and family, but you’ll also get bitter people, powered by anonymity.
If you’re looking for fault, don’t go to Rebecca Black. All she did was sing into a microphone and dance for a camera — the kind of thing we all did when we were kids.
The song and the backlash are a perfect storm, set in motion by adults. Black didn’t upload the video; a record label run by adults did. She didn’t write “Friday” or film the video; for-profit businesses run by adults did, and charged money to her adult parents. Black didn’t put her song on the iTunes Top 20; people with iTunes accounts tied to an adult’s credit cards did.
“Friday” will come and go, only to be replaced by something else. I just hope that before the next, “Friday,” we’re all a little more mature.