The Rebecca Black Plague and Irony as Culture

Rebecca Black
Rebecca Black

I almost managed not to say anything about Rebecca Black and her incredible rise to pseudo-fame, but then I caved.  On Google Buzz (yes, people still use Google Buzz) Chicagoist’s Jon Graef, Jake Guidry and Tankboy were chatting about Ark Music Factory and Rebbecca Blank’s unlikely (unlikeable?) success in response to a PRNewss item.   I gave up and was compelled to add my eight cents. (Read the full thread here)

Anyway, I slipped into what could be considered a rant, that I’ll repost below:

…It’s unfathomable a song this bland, indistinguishable from millions of other tween pop tracks, can go this huge.

What’s amazing to me is that the reason “Friday” has reached the critical mass of relevancy is BECAUSE it is so terrible. Internet fads like this are usually small time — the ammo of obscure 4chan-type jokesters that die out fast. Even the biggest ones are merely a blip on popular cultural radar (see: the Rick Roll, the Dancing Baby). When internet culture trends ever do hit the mainstream it’s usually based on sincere (if vanilla) interest. Take, for instance, Susan Boyle or the kid that did the Lady Gaga piano cover… and even those fade fast.

But THIS. This is the type of thing my parents are now aware of, and everyone loves it because it is so bad. It is charting because it is so bad. I’ve always assumed popular American entertainment is, by necessity, bland (Hi CBS!), but it’s scary that this same public is embracing a song because they’re in on the joke, they acknowledge it is bad, that it is vacuous. That it is a transparent attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator — and they’re eating it up.

I previously could write off popular culture for not knowing, or caring, what it was being fed. But The Black Plague changes this. Does John Q American know they’re taking-in prefab crap all the time and just not care, and maybe even enjoy it? Enjoy throwing money at their panderers? That’s even more unsettling.

I guess my question is, has the American public developed a zeitgeist of irony? Ha, and if that’s the case why is Urban Outfitters struggling?

2 thoughts on “The Rebecca Black Plague and Irony as Culture

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