Six Questions About Rebecca Black’s “Friday”

March 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

by MIRANDA


I. What are the precise mechanics of a YouTube video “going viral”?
Black’s video was originally posted on February 10, but started garnering a significant number of hits about a month later on Friday March 11. A friend showed it to me in person on Tuesday March 15; over the next few days it spread quickly among my classmates, and many of Friday March 18’s Facebook status updates were devoted to parodies and references to the song. As I write this the official YouTube video has more than 30 million views.

II. Who is Rebecca Black?
She seems earnest and sweet; she apparently plans to donate much of her iTunes sales profits to “school arts programs and relief efforts in Japan.” How did she get involved with Ark Music Factory

III. Who wrote the song? (It wasn’t Black.) And who auto-tuned the shit out of it? Because: HA. Kudos on your career. To be honest, I completely agree with Rolling Stone’s assessment that the song is “an unintentional parody of modern pop.” And I’d love to hear more from the true creator of said unintentional parody.

IV. What’s up with Ark Music Factory?
I couldn’t find much definitive information about the label’s business model or how one becomes associated with it; all I know for sure right now is that their website’s child-porn aesthetic gives me the creeps.

V. Why are we so culturally infatuated with improbable images of young teen girls partying?
It seems that society is only interested in girls when we’re appearing carefree and having capital-F Fun. Alarmingly few people are interested in struggle or unsureness or complex emotion. Which is unfortunate, because to my knowledge that’s exactly the register in which women operate from the ages of ten to twenty (or ten to forever?).

VI. What’s behind the onslaught of hatred towards Rebecca Black?
It is now a well-established fact that “Friday” is not good. You are not contributing something new to the discourse by saying the song sucks. Offering criticism of Black’s creative work is fine; anyone who puts a piece of writing or song or video or whatever out into the world should expect as much in response. What’s disturbing is the criticism that’s been leveled at Rebecca Black as a person. Her situation is emblematic of a phenomenon faced by many female pop stars, in which consumers use “critique” of an artist’s work to not-so-subtly critique her. (For guys, quite the opposite. Even Chris Brown’s undisputed real-life actions didn’t yield substantial public criticism of his personality or moral code.)


Asked by ABC’s Andrea Canning about the meanest response to her video that she’s read, Black says: “I hope you cut yourself and I hope you get an eating disorder so you’ll look pretty, and I hope you go cut and die.” These words have nothing to do with “Friday” — and actually, they probably have nothing to do with Rebecca Black. These words are about the vitriolic hostility that women are routinely and reflexively shown whenever they step foot into the media’s public arena. I’ve seen the video over and over, and I’m left wondering: Why is our culture simultaneously so obsessed with this video and so seemingly angered by it? I guess the real question is, why are we so hungry for media from women we can hate?

§ 3 Responses to Six Questions About Rebecca Black’s “Friday”

  • Demosthenes says:

    The negative response towards Black isn’t because she’s female, its because many view her as they do Justin Bieber; as another modern-day purveyor of unsubstantial, meaningless and boring teen-pop.

    As for youtube commenters, they were never philosophers.

    • mirandanyc says:

      I understand that many are responding to her music… But what I was responding to here is the specifically gendered way in which she’s been targeted. It’s hard to imagine anyone, even a YouTube commenter, telling Justin Bieber to develop an eating disorder.

  • Elena says:

    I read Rebecca Black’s bio on Ark Music Factory. She seems like a talented enough young kid–in fact, the only thing that separates herself from my adolescent self is that my parents were not going to drop thousands of dollars to fly me to LA so a skeezy music producer could create a vanity single for me. I feel awful for Black because she is having to face a lot of blind rage towards her at a vulnerable time in her life. Hell, I don’t think I could handle it if my middle-school performance as the Lorax got uploaded to YouTube and became viral.

    The “problem” isn’t Black. The “problem” are the people at ARK who prey on parents of talented kids, and promise” fame”, not quality work, in exchange for crazy amounts of money.

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