Reconsidering Rebecca Black

If you haven’t watched the Rebecca Black video for her song, Friday by now, then you’re one of the few remaining on earth that hasn’t. Of course I exaggerate, but I’ll admit, that just a couple weeks back, I became one of the almost 90 million people who have watched it, and that’s just counting the YouTube views to date.

There are a million reasons this video might be so hugely popular, and here are a few that I’ve read and considered:

  • Her video is annoyingly mind-numbing, and more than ever, people love what’s despicable
  • It’s escape from silly season in politics and major global upheavals in social structures and tectonic plates

But far more than just an internet meme, Rebecca Black is becoming the norm in social media, where a personal dream becomes overnight sensation. The story of Justin Bieber’s rise to fame comes to mind, of course, but think of Ted Williams – the formerly homeless man who rose to voice-over fame in a matter of seconds. The journey from small dream to huge media phenomenon is remarkably swift. One article is fondly reflecting on Williams’ meteoric rise by asking, “remember him?” after just three months since his story came to light.

Rebecca Black offers a few things that work for the social media world: her youth and attractiveness can’t be dismissed. While Boomers to Echo-Boomers are using social media to interact with their worlds, there are certain age guided numbers about types of social media sites.

But perhaps, more importantly, Black’s music video is quirky. It reminds me of the music videos you can make at a mall, but turned up a notch on production quality. As Rebecca Black makes the leap into mainstream or traditional media, and gets groomed into a conglomerate media product, her videos will take on a far slicker appeal. Her story has begun, and her story in a sense becomes even more irresistible: Will she make it? How will she change?

But perhaps more than anything it is that we can see her without the gloss of Madison Avenue or Vine Street that her video appeals to so many. Quirk is to social, as gloss is to mainstream. Or so it seems.

Susan McFarlane-Alvarez is Assistant Professor of Corporate Communication at Clayton State University and Founder of McFarlane Communications

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