Rebecca Black. Love her or hate her. But if you’re leaning towards the latter, take a moment to put yourself in her shoes. If you were an ambitious, borderline-precocious 13-year-old Californian whose mommy and daddy could pay to make you a star, would you refuse their offer? I very much doubt it.
By all means hate the track with which Black has risen to YouTube infamy. “Friday” is Ke$ha without the booze references, and if you knew the true toxicity of my venom towards Ke$ha, you’d appreciate how much I despise it. The lyrics appear to have been conceived by a bargain basement Taiwanese robot armed only with a calendar and admittedly admirable "copy and paste" skills. The melody has all the merits of a rejected Daphne & Celeste B-side. And that thing they’ve done to her voice? If the producers used a button entitled “Singing under the bathwater with a wired-up TV thrown in for good measure”, I’d have to concede they’ve nailed it.
But let me make one entirely serious point. No young girl deserves the sort of reception that Rebecca Black has had to endure online. The strength of the language directed not just at the song, but at the performer personally, is unforgivable. As Black herself has noted, it amounts to cyber-bullying, And, more than the noxious song the comments accompany, the backlash lends an offensive quality to what should have been a feel-good story.
Say what you want about buying your way to stardom, or using your parents’ fame or fortune for personal progression. But it’s hardly novel, is it? Scores of American starlets have made their names that way. Countless more will follow them down that gilded path. Some of them are old enough to know better (yes, I am looking at you, Paris Hilton). But Rebecca Black is not. She should be given a break.
And you know what? It looks like she will be given a break. A pretty big one, in fact. What counts for infamy today could easily blossom into longer-term fame. It’s up to Miss Black (and, more pertinently, her parents) to use that opportunity wisely. Mr. Starmaker Simon Cowell wants to meet her. Jonas Brother Nick has performed part of “Friday” to ecstatic fans in concert. And the song that has already gained upwards of 33 million YouTube views is now scaling the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
OK, I’ll switch off the radio as soon as it comes on. But that’s the great thing about choice. You don’t have to listen to “Friday”. You don’t have to watch the godawful video. And you don’t have to bombard a 13-year-old girl with abuse just because she got the opportunity to make it. If Rebecca Black epitomizes the hideous side of fame, why not consider the possibility that you might be complicit in handing it to her?
Catch News Stream with Kristie Lu Stout weekdays at 8pm HKT/ 12pm GMT / 8am ET on CNN International.