The recent video “Friday” by Rebecca Black has highlighted two things that are very wrong with America. Yes, it did highlight the despicable state of the music industry, but that’s not one of the two I’m talking about. One is the idea of privilege and the raising of a generation to believe that they don’t have to work hard for anything and two is the use of the internet as shield from consequences. People have a freedom to write whatever they want on the internet because they have the guise of anonynimity. They can judge because no one is able to judge them. They are nothing...they are a voice of opinion floating out in the interweb. What they say doesn’t matter, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean that isn’t harmful.
In case you haven’t seen it, this is the awful video that everyone is talking about.
From the basic standpoint of music appreciation I think we can all agree on a few things.
1.This is one of the most terribly written songs of all time.
2.The video itself is awkward, oddly shot and adds to the confusion created by the song lyrics.
3.Rebecca is not the worst singer of all time, but she’s not exactly record deal material either.
All that being said, I would argue that the majority of fault for the birth of this video lies in the production company and the songwriter (neither of which are Rebecca herself). In fact, I have a lot of respect for this 13 year old who seemingly was able to roll with the punches..and there were a lot of punches...about 34 million of them. She handled the situation with a maturity beyond her 13 years and I applaud her for that. Where my major issue comes from, is her parents.
Rebecca’s parents forked over the money to this shady production company to produce this video for their precious baby girl. What does that tell Rebecca? “Oh darling, Justin Bieber’s agent won’t find you a record deal? It’s ok, Mommy and Daddy will just buy you one. Who says you need talent when you have money darling.”
As part of the arts industry (albeit a miniscule part) I’ve seen so much of this I’m often left wondering if my parents are doing me a disservice by being realistic with me and expecting me to support myself. There’s a difference between supporting your 13 year old daughter’s dreams (i.e, maybe you pay for her to get voice lessons) and straight up giving her false hope. I know people who’s parents pay for their rent in New York City and give them an allowance (at 25 years old!) so they don’t have to trouble themselves with a job while they go out on auditions. Maybe I’m just jealous, but the people I know who have had to struggle, who have had to find a balance between their dreams and stark reality, those people have developed character...and their art is far more interesting for it. What will happen to these privileged people when they realize the world won’t be blinded by money forever (at least for the love of all things creative, I hope not), or when Mom and Dad die and the money runs out? They better find a sugar daddy quick because in this economy just being pretty ain’t gettin’ you a job sweetheart.
Onto a totally different argument, which can still point the finger at misguided parents-internet bullying.
The comments you can find on Ms. Black’s video are awful. Here are two of the many:
“wut the fuck is this her and all her ugly friends should get raped and then die a slow painfull death. hopfully this is ur last song cus after this song the suside rate went up by 87%.”
“Please, Rebbeca Black go take a few shots of Drano.. When you start throwing up blood you know it's working”
Now, these people are probably wastes of space with no self esteem who make themselves feel better by making little girls cry on the internet. However, just because these people have no credibility, doesn’t mean what they have to say is not hurtful, or by any means ok. We all know that kids can be hurtful, little girls quickly learn the power of exclusivity and little boys quickly learn the power of being “cool”. Children exist in their own social hierarchy and the moralities of the adult world don’t yet apply. I believe that it is our responsibility as adults, as parents, as older siblings, as role models (because let’s be honest, anyone who interacts with a child immediately becomes an example) to demand that this kind of behavior is wrong. I can’t help but feel that my two points are deeply connected. If you raise a generation of children to believe that they don’t have to work hard, that the world will hand them everything they could ever need or want, they will believe that they are superior to those who don’t get everything they need and want. They will believe that these “others” are somehow lacking. They won’t see the need to prove themselves as human beings with quality and character.
I have never raised a child and can’t being to imagine the difficulties that one encounters with such a task. However, I can tell you with certainty that my parents raised me in a way that would never allow me to talk about anyone like this. They raised me to believe that I am responsible for my words and actions whether or not anyone knows I was the one who committed them. They raised me to believe that not only do I have to prove myself to them, but ultimately, I have to answer to myself. I have to live with my choices. Not that I was a perfect child, I certainly did my share of gossiping and served my time of groundings, but to believe that I had the right to talk about people in a way such as this would never have crossed my mind. I can’t help but feel that children, teens and eventually adults who have this twisted sense of superiority had the seeds planted by their immediate role models, their parents. They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it’s time our society started demanding more from our children. It’s time we demand that they prove themselves. Respect is not doled out because you pay for it. You have to earn it, you have to work hard for it. Let’s stop sugar-coating the world, ay?