The Proposition: Rebecca Frankenstein Black: or The Post-Modern Prometheus

By | April 7, 2011

The Skinny

The most ghastly thing about Friday is not the hideous auto-tuning, the stupefying lyrics or the gormless rap, it’s the fact that it reminds us what a bunch of slack-jawed imbeciles we actually are
According to recent internet polls, Rebecca Black is now officially the most hated human being in history. As her debut music video Friday continues to infect the planet via the world wide web, she has even outstripped Colonel Gadaffi and tectonic plates for low approval ratings online. That’s fast work for someone who had barely graduated to embryo when Hanson’s MMMBop made its equally ignominious way to number one.

Yet Rebecca Black is purely a means to an end; the product of an industry honing the science of marketing to a fine art without any regard for the consequences; seeing just how much can be achieved with less and less; playing God with popular culture.

At the time of writing, Friday sat on a staggering 38 million YouTube views. To put that in perspective, the famous Zapruder handy-cam film of John F Kennedy’s assassination has only recently scraped past the 1.5 million mark. Ergo Kevin Costner is already in talks for an adaptation of Rebecca Black’s story wherein he lists the months of the year, the hours of the day and perhaps the alphabet, censors allowing. Rumours also abound that Denzel Washington has been pencilled in for a chauffeur cameo where he discusses school buses and the merits of passing them in traffic.

The very fact we are even discussing this lousy song is testimony to the power of “viral” marketing and, given the fairly undisputed shiteness of the clip in question, that in turn illustrates the perverse rubber-necking, car-crash voyeurism that pervades society. Friday is a monstrosity. A real freak show. And as such it is being both elevated to astonishing prominence and simultaneously persecuted mercilessly.

Yet the bludgeoningly obvious irony is that Friday has only entered into our public consciousness out of our need to loudly object and lambast it. The more we hate it the bigger it gets like some giant swirling vortex of negativity, gradually consuming the planet. We created this monster to embody our worst fears and, like the monster in Mary Shelley’s classic novel, the toll it takes on humanity is born of our own shortcomings. Put simply, the most ghastly thing about Friday is not the hideous auto-tuning, the stupefying lyrics or the gormless rap, it’s the fact that it reminds us what a bunch of slack-jawed imbeciles we actually are. It brings us face to face with our own bovine idiocy.

Okay let’s quickly get something out of the way for the literary pedants. I’m aware that the real Frankenstein in this scenario is actually Ark Music Factory, the detestably shrewd production company behind this whole farce. Frankenstein was the doctor – that’s Shelley 101 – so quell your tutting. Yes, in this scenario Miss Black plays the monster and in the same way Frankenstein’s creation, corrupted by years of abuse and ostracision, reflected the lesser aspects of human nature, so Friday has become a scapegoat for vitriolic rhetoric stemming from our frustrations with the appalling state of the music industry and the dehumanising nature of marketing.

Yet what could be more grotesque than some of the reactions the video has evoked: “I want to punch her mum for smoking crack while she was pregnant”; “somebody should just shoot her”; “die of butt hole AIDS” and the thoroughly reprehensible “violate that bitch”? As with that classic novel, it’s the monstrosity of human beings that is being made crushingly apparent.

Miss Black herself has enjoyed substantial media attention on the back of her new-found infamy. Appearing on daytime TV shows across America, she described crying when she read one critic proclaim “I hope you cut yourself, and I hope you’ll get an eating disorder so you’ll look pretty.” Totally brutal when you consider that this is a 13 year old girl we’re talking about. Rebecca goes on to lament the derision her fame has incurred but, as one lamentably-rare astute blogger retorts, “We don’t hate you because you are famous, you are famous because we hate you.”

As to whether Ark Music Factory are held to account for that which they have unleashed remains to be seen. By all accounts they have a warehouse in LA full of such potential musical catastrophes. Yet as the hit-count increases and the virus spreads, the lynch-mob gathers in the global village, torches and rakes in hand, baying for blood. Eventually, in fittingly medieval style, that mob might well advance on Ark Music’s castle screaming with one final Tweet “KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!” (Copyright – SlugBoi69).

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