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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

The Real Problem with Rebecca Black

I’ve been following this whole Rebecca Black thing with kind of a morbid interest. I don’t think there’s an objective argument that her vanity video “Friday” is, by any definition, good music, nor that it actually pretends to be any other than what it is. The problem is her parents. You know how when your kid is like, a year old, and discovers for the first time that banging on pots and pans loudly is really awesome, and you’re so impressed they figured it out that you’re all, “Look at you make noise! Aren’t you a brilliant girl?!”

I get the feeling that Rebecca Black’s parents do that a lot.

And the problem is the very idea of people shelling out $2,000 $50,000 (!) to have a vanity production company make a video of their kid doing the 13-year-old-girl version of banging pots and pans. And further, the problem is the adults in Rebecca Black’s life manipulating her and convincing her that getting millions of hits from people mostly making fun of you is a good thing. It’s not.

What it is, to me, is sad. Sad to watch talk show hosts scrambling to have her on their shows so they and their audience — people no doubt hipper, smarter and older than Rebecca Black — can snicker at how much they hate her and her song.

As a mom, I look at Rebecca Black and I see my own kids and I think, what if one of my kids made a video and put that on YouTube and some people thought it was really hilariously bad and enough people agreed with them that it went “viral” — but not in a good way? What if millions of people were openly mocking my child and saying vicious things about her?

I know, I know … in our celeb-watching culture where Paris Hilton is admired and imitated for being rich and blond, any publicity is good publicity, right? Rebecca Black’s getting famous! Maybe she’ll get a record deal of of it! But right now? She is the butt of a big joke and she doesn’t seem to realize it.

What would I do if it were my kid? Well, I wouldn’t have paid $2,000 $50,000 for a vanity video, for starters. But if my kid made a video and put it on YouTube and it went viral and was garnering attention in such a negative way?

I think maybe, as her parent, I’d take the video down, and politely refuse interview requests on her behalf, and maybe lie low for a couple weeks until, without fuel being added to the fire, the interest level of the short-attention-span internet generation in my daughter just kind of died down as the collective herd moved onto the next thing to make fun of and attack. She sure as hell wouldn’t be going on talk shows.

I think maybe the grownups in the room need to take a step back and remember that at the center of this is a 13-year-old girl. She’s a kid. She made the kind of video that you might expect a 13-year-old girl to make, right? Not much worse than any other videos kids make when they’re just screwing around lip-syncing Backstreet Boys songs.

No, the problem with Rebecca Black is not Rebecca Black, or even Rebecca Black’s song. It’s the adults around her who are exploiting her negatively tinged, flavor-of-the-month fame right now who are the problem. And the tendency of the Internet and its blanket of anonymity — and wall of impersonality — that makes it easy for people to attack with vitriol and forget that what they’re attacking is actually a real person, a real young girl, with real feelings.

It all kind of calls to mind the rise of Mr. Brainwash in Exit Through the Gift Shop. Mr. Brainwash went about becoming a famous “artist” in a bassackwards way that challenges the idea of what’s “art” and what is shameless self-promotion and churning out thousands of imitations of other peoples’ creativity while not creating anything much yourself that’s actually good or creative as an original work.

Mr. Brainwash used effective PR techniques and visual repetition to drum into the hipster art culture in LA the idea that he was somebody important to take notice of, and the LA cool kidz and the LA Weekly, who are apparently easily distracted by shiny objects and lots of posters telling them something’s super-hot and super-hip, bought the whole farce hook, line and sinker. The problem with Mr. Brainwash is that he PR’d his way into being a famous artist without benefit of first learning how to make art. And some artists who’ve, say, worked decades honing their art form and style might, understandably, take a bit of offense that.

With Rebecca Black, what we have is a young girl whose adults are PR’ing her into being a “pop artist,” without benefit of her actually growing into a good musician yet. That’s not to say that she’s incapable of eventually becoming a musician, but a couple years of starring in your elementary school musicals and your parents paying for some voice lessons and buying an expensive music video for you doesn’t make you a professional, however much her parents seem to think they can buy their daughter NOW what only time and experience can truly give her.

Maybe someone will soon reveal the punchline that the whole Rebecca Black “Friday” video thing is just an elaborate hoax by Banksy. I think I’d like that better.

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16 Responses to “The Real Problem with Rebecca Black”

  1. garnet says:

    I, for one, am a legitimate fan of Rebecca Black’s Friday.
    Although, I think I might like it a bit better if it wasn’t just ripping off Paul McCartney’s verse in “A Day In The Life”..

    “Woke up, fell out of bed,
    Dragged a comb across my head
    Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
    And looking up I noticed I was late.
    Found my coat and grabbed my hat
    Made the bus in second flat
    Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
    and Somebody spoke and I went into a dream”

    But seriously – I like Rebecca Black’s song way better than anything I’ve heard Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry make.

  2. Drake says:

    what bad did this video do to the world? Isn’t there any videos on YouTube that are worse? People are just jobless to criticize the efforts of a 13 year old kid, as if it is the only thing in this world that makes the world imperfect. Please don’t go on writing bad things about people because you have a keyboard in your hand. Why don’t people neglect something that they didn’t like, instead of hating it, when it is not going to matter for them at all. All you lost is about 4 minutes during watching this video. You are not going to go to hell or killed by an elephant because you have watched this video.

  3. MKE says:

    It wasn’t $50,000, her parents paid $2,000.

  4. Royce says:

    wow…couldn’t agree with you any more…
    loved the last line…
    “Maybe someone will soon reveal the punchline that the whole Rebecca Black “Friday” video thing is just an elaborate hoax by Banksy. I think I’d like that better.”

  5. Kim Voynar says:

    MKE, I’ve seen several sources cite $52,000 as what her parents paid. If that’s incorrect and you have a legitimate source that says otherwise, though, please provide a pointer and I’ll gladly correct.

  6. Kim Voynar says:

    Drake, you should maybe try reading what I wrote before assuming that I’m slamming the song or video. Just a suggestion.

  7. Rob says:

    Ah, Rebecca Black is so last week. Guilty Dog is the new star.

  8. Burt says:

    As another poster has stated it is two thousand dollars that was paid. I have read that in many sources. Here is one of them

  9. Kim Voynar says:

    Burt, thanks for the link. Correction made accordingly.

  10. RoyBatty says:

    Was going to add that Meghan Daum had the $2K figure in Thursday’s LA Times as well.

  11. Jason says:

    Even though I see the production cheats (greenscreen on the driving sequences, her actual friends as extras) I’m afraid that video looks more expensive than $2,000. We’re talking professional hair, makeup, and lighting, video editing, visual effects (no matter how cheap they are), sound mixing (all that autotune takes time and effort), and creative fees for the “composer” of the song. For two grand? I don’t think the parents want to admit how much money they actually spent, for fear of looking ridiculous.

  12. yo says:

    bored. rebecca isnt even that good at singing and her parents are spoiling her, she didn’t even earn it. It should have been like a bday present or a prize for straight A’s. she kinda fails and her parents fail even more cuz they’re spoiling her. suckish people.

  13. Paula says:

    I feel kind of bad for Rebecca black, because if all the terrible comments! It’s kinda sad that people could be that mean to a 13-year old girl… Yea… The song sucks…. And it’s #21 on iTunes due to it’s stupidity… But I am in a little way inspired by her. Those comments arnt stopping her from doing what she loves. Annoying the crap out of America! But she us kinda inspiring because she shows that even a terribly stupid thing can make millions! Lol!

  14. Nathaniel says:

    BORING. Who cares. I genuinely like the song, and I’m not being facetious. It’s like if North Korea tried to approximate teen pop culture using a super computer that created pop anthems. I would rather listen to Friday than, let’s say, ANY Justin Bieber song, most Lady Gaga songs, and certainly the absolute triteness that Black Eyed Peas regularly put out. Why is everyone bagging on Friday but ignoring how shitty that “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Good Night” song is?

  15. Oscar says:

    Im actually glad Rebecca black happened, I believe she did something no one has done in a while, which was being her self. She might not have been very talented but the important thing is she did what she wanted and was not told how to be, like the music industrie does to their artists. Thats why she’s hated cause people can’t stand the real ones.

  16. Trevor says:

    Actually the problem Kim, is people like you. Critics who put nothing into the collective. Just sit back and judge.

    And you really think that’s how music works? You grow into a good musician and then you get picked up?


    New Kids on the Block
    Brittney Spears

    Need I go on? Right place at the right time. Most people have no musical taste.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon