Clearly, I’ve been looking at this music video all wrong:
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 Evie Vicki 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.”
She offers the camera a hostage’s smile, forced, false. Her smoky eyes suggest chaos witnessed: tear gas, rock missiles and gasoline flames. They paint her as a refugee of a teen culture whose capacity for real subversion was bludgeoned away somewhere between the atrocities of Kent State and those of the 1968 Democratic Convention, the start of a creeping zombification that would see youthful dissent packaged and sold alongside Pez and Doritos.
“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.”
Definitely read the whole thing — it is a masterpiece. And as one commenter notes, “Of course you know that you have now ruined this subject as material for a PhD thesis in the social sciences.” Heh.
Hat tip to my good friend Mike Godwin, over on Facebook. (Yes, that Godwin.)
P.S. Of course, in all this, Rebecca Black is laughing at the rest of us. Her video is approaching 40 million views on YouTube in less than six weeks. I suspect that must be a record of some sort. We so excited!