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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

In defense of Rebecca Black (seriously)

I can’t stop listening to Rebecca Black’s “”Friday.””

At first it was because the song is so unbelievably, excellently bad. But soon, Black’s nasal, auto-tuned voice wormed its way into my soul. Now, I have to admit, I sort of love this song.

However, the pitchfork-wielding mob that is the Internet disagrees. Since Black’s song went viral last week, the 13-year-old amateur pop star has been lambasted from pretty much every corner. The song has repeatedly been called the worst song ever, with its accompanying music video receiving similar superlatives. Black has even received death threats, which just proves that people who comment online aren’t just evil, but have absolutely nothing going on in their lives.

The whole affair mostly makes me want to give Rebecca Black a hug. She’s 13 years old. She’s about to star in her school’s production of “”Oklahoma!”” She’s cute, but not “”ew”” cute. In fact, in the “”Friday”” video, Black’s wardrobe is classy, age appropriate, and, unlike the rest of the pre-pubescent pop tarts out there, not disgusting. She looks like a savvy, put-together preteen. I didn’t even know those still existed.

The oft-maligned lyrics of “”Friday”” are, yes, pretty bad. But like Black’s appearance, they’re also refreshing. Black didn’t write them, and was offered a choice between two songs by Ark Music Factory, which produced the song and video. She chose “”Friday”” because, “”The other song was about adult love — I haven’t experienced that yet.”” A young woman entering the music industry who doesn’t want to sing about topics she feels are too mature for her? I think we might be able to call that unprecedented.

But the point shouldn’t be whether “”Friday”” sucks. It kind of does. What’s the last thing a non-professional 13-year-old entertainer produced that didn’t suck? Do any of the people blasting Black actually remember being 13? It sucked!

The bigger question is, what is Black’s video doing online? It’s disturbing any way you slice it. Either her parents are so attention hungry they exploited their daughter’s amateur music project; Ark Music Factory owns the video and gets to do whatever it wants, even and especially exploit its talent (the most likely scenario); or 13-year-old Rebecca Black has unrestricted, unmonitored Internet access and can unwittingly exploit herself.

The problem is how easy it is to misunderstand and misuse tools like YouTube, especially when there are children (and yes, a 13-year-old is still a child) involved. To Rebecca Black’s parents: What on Earth is your young daughter’s likeness doing all over the Internet? She isn’t a professional musician, and the song is pretty clearly not awesome. Why allow it to go online at all? The “”Friday”” video would be a great thing to own on DVD, maybe to show to agents if she ever decides to go pro. Someone could show it at the rehearsal dinner for her wedding. That’d be cute. But YouTube? Really? What did you people expect?

For that matter, other parents of the world: What is a video of your toddler mispronouncing the word “”ass,”” or accidentally mixing up the phrase “”fire truck”” or tripping out after a visit to the dentist doing online? It’s funny now, but that little munchkin is someday going to be a teenager, and then an adult. And that stuff doesn’t go away. Just because the video is no longer viral doesn’t mean it can’t still profoundly influence the rest of your child’s life. Do you really want people to ask your kid, “”Hey, aren’t you ‘David after Dentist’?”” forever?

The Internet is still kind of a new toy, so it’s understandable that people are still trying to navigate its usage. But some things should be sacred, even in our horrible culture. The stupid little video you made at age 13 shouldn’t get to define you, or haunt you for the rest of your life.

I’m sure Rebecca Black, who is quickly becoming my idol, will recover gracefully from this hiccup. But the adults in her life should be ashamed. And Rebecca, if you’re reading this, just know you’ll always be kickin’ it in the front seat of my heart.

— Heather Price-Wright is the assistant arts editor for the Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 

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