Hollywood Lab Rat: Rebecca Black’s My Moment
When I last wrote about Rebecca Black, I argued that she’s shown how Hollywood has the power to make anyone a star. The effort of many hardworking marketing experts to create a star (because it will be profitable) surpasses any one person’s unique shortcomings or lack of star presence. Now I’m conflicted. I think the opposite might be true: One individual has the power to expose the upsetting inner workings of the Hollywood marketing machine.
The music video for Rebecca Black’s new single “My Moment” dually capitalizes on Black’s goofy charm (that fans love) and awkwardness (that haters love to hate). On the surface, the video tells us that 1) despite the haters, Rebecca Black is a star and 2) this works, because at the same time Rebecca Black is still just a likable young girl genuinely ecstatic about all this attention.
On another level, the video seems aware that people love to hate Rebecca Black, and wants to give people the opportunity to hate her.
The dual role Rebecca Black has to play is carefully manufactured. Viewed one way, she appears as the rising pop star who has succeeded despite adversity. In the video she dances with apparent fans rather than in front of them (0:57), showing that everybody is equally enthused about Black’s success. Even more, it suggests Black’s stardom is marked by her normality. She’s the everygirl’s pop star, integrated with her supporters.
Viewed differently, Black appears as the clumsy and awkward girl not quite in tune with her own body’s movements. In one instance, she taps her thigh with an open hand in the awkward way she has in earlier videos (0:36-0:37) and in another, claps her hands, shakes her head, and snaps her fingers in an uncomfortably exaggerated way (1:14-1:16).
This is a self-aware tactic that for some viewers might transform the what-was-once-painful-to-watch into something endearing. Alternatively, it leaves space for a less positive viewer to hate.
It’s not startling that “My Moment” has succeeded in manufacturing a Rebecca Black that appeals easily to both fans and haters. What’s striking is that Rebecca Black makes the supposed-to-be-subliminal marketing tactics blatantly obvious.
Black is capable of doing this because she was initially the perfect example of something so incredibly bad, something so devoid of serious, positive allure, that it could never, ever, be seriously marketable.
But behold the marketers greatest challenge: to market the unmarketable.
At face value, Black’s enterprise is a success. Viewed analytically, however, Rebecca Black is the most transparent example of a Hollywood experiment, her YouTubian stardom akin to a genetically enhanced lab rat dancing in a cage.
More by Kyle Kouri:
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