I appreciate that my two teenage daughters attempt to educate me on the latest internet phenomena so that I don’t wake up one day and find that I no longer speak the same language as they do. Memes, lolcats, and hipsters are just a few of the vocab words that Jennifer and Valerie have taught me through links to YouTube and “i can has cheezburger.”
So of course, Jennifer had to fill me in about “Friday,” the Rebecca Black music video that has had more than 35 million hits on YouTube. Rebecca is an eighth grader whose mother paid a music production company in LA $2,000 for the song and video production.
As Jennifer pointed out to me, the lyrics of the song sound like some kind of rhythmic ditty to help children learn the days of the week in the same way that “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” helps toddlers learn the parts of the body. Rebecca sings “Yesterday was Thursday, Today is Friday, Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards,” with a bunch of “partyin’” mixed in between.
Yes, the song is awful. Being forced to listen to it more than two times back-to-back probably violates the Geneva Convention. I had to have Jennifer turn it off before it got to the end for fear that it would plant an ear worm.
And what kind of “Partyin’” an eighth grader is doing and how her 14-year-old school buddies are able to drive raises some questions. But my guess is that her mother saw it as a home movie with better production values and hoped it would show off the slightly above average musical talents of her cute daughter. And if in the process, Rebecca just happened to become the next Justin Bieber, who’s complaining? Everybody has a mortgage to pay…
By the time Jennifer showed me the video, it had been circulating around the internet for weeks, giving it plenty of time for parody and comments. Jennifer showed me a few of them, and some were funny. In the video, Rebecca is stumped about where she should sit in the car so a primary refrain in the lyric is “Which seat can I take?” So of course, an internet pundit posted that a movie theater with rows and rows of empty seats would be hell for Rebecca.
But apparently that type of comment was atypically mild and a great many more were downright vicious. Of course, since it’s on the internet, anything can be posted with impunity. Meghan Daum, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, commented that “whereas it used to be that the forum for anonymous public opinion was the high school bathroom wall, now the whole world is essentially a bathroom wall.”
Rebecca’s mom was probably naïve in putting the video on YouTube and then being shocked by the nasty comments that came back from such an innocent effort at promotion. Let that be a lesson to all of us; the internet is not your friend.