Rebecca Black’s Catalytic Effect
Maybe the idea of intellectualizing Rebecca Black is laughable to some. I think it’s really, really interesting. If we stop thinking about Black as a person (I care little about the human being) and instead as a catalytic figure, we start seeing how much her presence reveals about the abundant media surrounding her.
I keep watching and re-watching Rebecca Black’s “Black Friday” skits on Funny or Die. Especially the one titled, “Friday Lyrics Analyzed with Rebecca Black.” The skit attempts humor by presenting a self-aware, self-parodying Black who ironically explains the layers of “Friday.”
Black reexamines the song’s lyrics, saying, “Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal, that line…that line is about consumerism.” She adds, “Looking forward to the weekend is really about the broken promises to a generation in the current economic climate.”
In a purely hypothetical way, I understand why this would be funny. This is first-rate formula akin to Comedy Central’s Roasts. Black shows she’s aware her lyrics are ridiculous by pushing a non-existent meaning to the most absurd, pretentious extremes.
But the humor never flourishes. It dies the moment you see this method enacted on the screen. The error lies in the blatancy. The blatancy is a result of the fact that Black alone is insubstantial. (This is only speculation) but the singer seems like a totally average fourteen year-old girl in nearly every way. And an average fourteen year-old girl is not usually interesting to anybody but their parents.
Therefore, when I watch Rebecca Black videos I’m hypersensitive to everything that surrounds her. I’m drawn to her environment because I’m in no way drawn to her.
When I watch Rebecca Black on Funny or Die, I’m immediately aware that this is a production that’s purpose is to make me laugh. And that’s all. Of course, I know that’s always the purpose on Funny or Die, but usually I’m caught up in the actor/comedian’s presence. With Rebecca Black, I’m caught up in everything but that. I see immediately the machinations behind the screen’s magic and am immediately turned off (not turned off Rebecca Black, but off the media manufacturing her).
This catalytic effect is not something new, it’s just never been so clear. Sometimes it’s apparent when you have an inferior talent situated in a superior production, or vice versa. But with Rebecca Black, there is no ambiguity and that’s really, really fascinating.
More by Kyle Kouri:
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