Rebecca Black's monster viral hit “Friday” has been dissected for the last couple of weeks by seemingly everyone in the business of pop culture.
And when the pop culture brigade moves on, it's gonna be time for college and graduate school papers analyzing the phenomenon in hifalutin' book-lernin' words.
Except, well, it's already happening.
Brainy blog The Awl just posted an essay by Dana Vachon entitled “Arms So Freezy: Rebecca Black's 'Friday' As Radical Text.”
The Awl and Vachon are gonna claim it's “parodic” (aka, what people who get words mixed up would call “ironic”). Except it's not. It reads EXACTLY like any number of academic takes on the Rebecca Black phenomenon are gonna read for years, maybe decades.
Here, for your reading pleasure, are the highlights from “Arms So Freezy: Rebecca Black's 'Friday' As Radical Text.”
From The Awl's piece:
- Rebecca Black wakes somewhat too perfectly in the early scenes of her viral video, “Friday.” Her eyes open exactly as the clock beside her bed flashes seven. She wears full make-up. Rare for a teen, she isn't tired, longs not for any receding dreams. Her cultural debt is less to Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles than
EvieVicki the robot girl from Small Wonder, we realize, as in a voice controlled by Auto-Tune she enumerates the banalities of an anti-existence: “Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs, gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal… gotta get down to the bus stop.”
- “Look and listen deeply,” she challenges. An onanistic recursion, at once Siren and Cassandra, she heralds a new chapter in the Homeric tradition. With a slight grin, she calls out to us: “I sing of the death of the individual, the dire plight of free will and the awful barricades daily built inside the minds of all who endure what lately passes for American life. And here I shall tell you of what I have done in order to feel alive again.”
- [I]t is a simple matter of fact that in this car all the good seats have already been taken. For Rebecca Black (her name here would seem to evoke Rosa Parks, a mirroring that will only gain in significance) there is no actual choice, only the illusion of choice. The viewer knows that she'll take the only seat that's offered to her, a position so very undesirable as to be known by a derisive–the “Bitch” seat.
- For Time–in its relativity, brutality and absurdity– is one of “Friday”'s great targets. In an instant day passes to night, and the realism of the bus stop gives way to a surreal blue-screen panorama of a full moon and false city running on loop as Ms. Black rides in the convertible, apparent-heiress to the grand American tradition of high school cruising, that curious space birthed by Cold War highways (themselves relics of our atomic fears) in which teenagers first experienced themselves as such.
- “Partying, Partying,'” she sings again, now in detached self-narration. “Yeah!” reply her friends, and then the sequence is repeated to evoke the grand progenitor of all American music, the call and response of a Negro spiritual, harkening back to our nation's great unhealing wound, slavery itself.
- Ms. Black's image flickers across the screen, now doubled, fractured, schizophrenic, threatening Kleboldian frenzy–as we cut to an African-American man in his early thirties. He wears diamond earrings, a light beard, drives across the familiar blue-screen cityscape. He alone seems untaken by the false images around him. Is it because he can't forget American brutality? Does ancient bondage keep him from modern numbness? Is he protected from pharma and plasma by fire hoses and cotton fields?
- In broadest terms, the answer is yes: Ms. Black's parents have paid this rapper to appear in the video as a conduit to ghetto rawness, hired blackness, an invigorating hit of the Other. He is a peddler of “the real” in a false-era of commoditized suffering.