434 Fridays Later ...
July 7, 2019 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Rebecca Black was, at age 13, the singer of Friday, the most popular (and most-mocked) video on YouTube in 2011 (Katy Perry, concerned about the internet bullying, invited Black to star in her video Last Friday Night). Today she is 22 and talks to BuzzFeed video about her viral fame at 13 and what came after. (Previously on MetaFilter: Friday, Saturday, copyright dispute.) She now has a YouTube channel.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (52 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Rebecca Black has made a little bit of white affluence go a long way. Not bad, I suppose, but not great either.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:18 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]


Eight years later, people are still blaming her for the popularity of a silly one-off.
posted by tclark at 8:20 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]


I'm so glad she seems to be doing so well.
It was uncomfortable looking back at one of the previous MeFi threads and seeing people jump on the public shaming bandwagon. I hope Jon Ronson and others have helped raise our consciousness a bit since then.
posted by archy at 8:24 PM on July 7 [6 favorites]


Well- I hope people have gotten better about publicly shaming people who don't deserve it- but that Ronson book was a dumpster fire where he tried to lump in people like Rebecca Black who were naive with actual real deal racists who got publicly shamed for actual real deal harm- so hopefully our consciousness could be raised without him.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:27 PM on July 7 [38 favorites]


It's really insensible of white privilege to say that she had a silly one-off. Tay Zonday had a silly one-off. Rebecca Black paid (or her parents paid) for a professionally produced music video that she promptly capitalized on as soon as it went viral. It's not her fault that she did so - any other person might have done the same - but it does say something about how the world works that she has managed to parlay this into a kind of success.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:32 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


so uh did anybody actually watch the video?
posted by JimBennett at 8:34 PM on July 7 [19 favorites]


it does say something about how the world works that she has managed to parlay this into a kind of success.

You seem to be speaking as though nobody has heard of Tay Zonday, or Antoine Dodson, or any of a large number of people who have turned low-or-zero budget viral notoriety into something with legs, and at the same time dismissing the complete lack of virality involved in all the other kids whose parents ponied up for a pricey vanity project. I think you may be the one insensible of something, here.
posted by tclark at 8:47 PM on July 7 [15 favorites]




so uh did anybody actually watch the video?
posted by JimBennett at 8:34 PM on July 7 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


Yes! She seems pretty level-headed in light of the insanity of going viral at age 13.
posted by tantrumthecat at 9:24 PM on July 7 [4 favorites]


I've never seen/heard Friday - still refuse because I can't - no matter anyone's status - dissect/pile on/etc the actions of a young person. Somewhere out there is a tape of me singing Kokomo that I had great fun making and the good fortune of never releasing (despite clear relative production values).

I hope she's okay - not because of any privilege, because christ we should be left our increasingly weird onlne childhood's to the memory hole
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:24 PM on July 7 [24 favorites]


I've never seen/heard Friday - still refuse because I can't - no matter anyone's status - dissect/pile on/etc the actions of a young person. Somewhere out there is a tape of me singing Kokomo that I had great fun making and the good fortune of never releasing (despite clear relative production values).

For pretty much the exact same reasons, I’m grateful that my high school years were pre-YouTube. No one needs to watch - or comment on - the terrible Snap! and Technotronic knockoffs I was rapping at school dances and assemblies. Even Vanilla Ice would’ve been all “who does this kid think he is?”
posted by tantrumthecat at 9:36 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


Yeah. When I was 14 one of my best friends was an aspiring film director - she even went on to get a bachelor's in it - and she always had a camcorder at the ready. There is sleepover party footage of me, her, and some of our other friends dressed up in abysmal late 90s getups, lipsynching to the Spice Girls but introducing ourselves as different "herbs", but pronounced with the H because we were being "British".

Cut to nineteen years later, and her parents are moving out of their old house and, get this, batch-digitizing all their old VHS home movies. And what do they do but... upload it all to a shared cloud service and set permissions to my friend who then texts all of us a direct link. Queue my upwelling of adolescent horror, and, thank god, a completely unanimous response from the rest of us to PLEASE DELETE, DO NOT SHARE, ERASE ERASE.

This is all to say, I'm grateful that I just barely managed to escape the youtube era as a teen. To any other children who have been subjected to it since I hope to extend only kindness.

I did watch Friday when it came out and I remember thinking "this girl is like every other girl whose Bat Mitzvah I attended, I hope she gets better at singing like she seems to want to" and then clicked away. When I found out that the meme wasn't just a cute one but a mean one I was not surprised but disappointed. Thankfully, she has gotten better at singing. I don't think the internet has gotten less mean.
posted by Mizu at 10:06 PM on July 7 [14 favorites]




Rebecca Black is touring ... with Man Man. Here's Man Man on KEXP.

They played a show tonight, but I fell asleep in the afternoon, which seemed like I wouldn't stay awake for a show on a Sunday night, but here I am, online at 11:30 PM. I am still so intrigued as to how Man Man and Rebecca Black would coordinate live.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:28 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


Holy shit I actually like her adult music. Check out that YouTube link. Anyways is a nice song - kinda dreamy.

She seems down to earth and every now and then me or my husband pull out “it’s friiii-day” on a Friday morning, so she’s a pop culture legend now. Love it or hate it, that shit was catchy.

Thanks for posting!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:43 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


Friday is a weird song. After watching the Stephen Colbert cover on the tonight show, which was brilliant btw, now I'm totally into it. For a while we had Friday cover Fridays, where we'd try to find the best cover version on YouTube. My husband and I sing it unironically on Fridays (although we sing the tonight show version).

I never really understood why people held anything against Rebecca Black, given she didn't actually write or produce the song.
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:30 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Because unlike the REST of our culture, or the rest of the music/viral video/disposable entertainment industry, she leveraged the advantage of being rich, white, and young to achieve temporary success that was neither as satisfying or as lucrative as it seemed like it should be.

Luckily the rest of the entertainment/mind control business is a pure meritocracy where only talent and hard work matter for success and visibility and profit. As it has always been all the way back to INXS.
posted by spitbull at 4:31 AM on July 8 [10 favorites]


that Ronson book was a dumpster fire where he tried to lump in people like Rebecca Black who were naive with actual real deal racists who got publicly shamed for actual real deal harm- so hopefully our consciousness could be raised without him.
Well wasn't the point that maybe we shouldn't just be a mob of mindless baying savages no matter how distasteful the target? Waterboarding costs us the moral high ground and makes us no better than the enemy and all that?
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:54 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Me, an intellectual: We must maintain the moral high ground by ignoring teen girls and would-be genociders equally.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:26 AM on July 8 [26 favorites]


I never really understood why people held anything against Rebecca Black, given she didn't actually write or produce the song.

She's female and much of the internet was (reflected?) (is?) very hostile to women existing in public. Glad that it has gotten much more female and much more pleasant.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:40 AM on July 8 [14 favorites]


Also IDK why but it feels like my generational cohort (older millenials) and gen-xers were the last people who legitimately ranked people based on how "cool" they were, with "cool" being some sort of conformist media-determined quality that had nothing to do with character. Kids These Days...are much more accepting of different people and much less judgmental about superficial bullshit, and I love it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:44 AM on July 8 [19 favorites]


gen-xers ... ranked people based on how "cool" they were, with "cool" being some sort of conformist media-determined quality

Whoa whoa whoa... True gen-xers wouldn't consider someone cool based on conformist media quality - those would be "sellouts". (I kid, I kid - but, then that became a thing and corporate media was selling counter-culture too)

(On edit - I would hazard a guess that many gen-xers disdain for things like 'Friday' was because those songs seem to be auto-generated by the 'PopuTron 3000' media machine, rather than 'authentic' music... Which is wrong as well)
posted by jkaczor at 6:09 AM on July 8 [9 favorites]


Cut to nineteen years later, and her parents are moving out of their old house and, get this, batch-digitizing all their old VHS home movies. And what do they do but... upload it all to a shared cloud service and set permissions to my friend who then texts all of us a direct link. Queue my upwelling of adolescent horror, and, thank god, a completely unanimous response from the rest of us to PLEASE DELETE, DO NOT SHARE, ERASE ERASE.

My friends and I made Super-8 films in high school that I think might have been digitized, but that haven't made it onto YouTube, and heaven forfend that they ever do get posted, because, yeah. One of them is a Star Wars parody in which I play Chewbacca; my scene opens with me in a Chewie mask taking a dump on someone's front lawn (not for real, because this isn't Pink Flamingos level of guerrilla filmmaking dedication); the rest of the stuff is at a similar level. I wasn't planning on ever running for public office anyway, so I'm not losing sleep over the possibility, but sheesh.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:22 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Whoa whoa whoa... True gen-xers wouldn't consider someone cool based on conformist media quality - those would be "sellouts". (I kid, I kid - but, then that became a thing and corporate media was selling counter-culture too)

So true! So there's another generation gap between older millenials and gen-xers. I think we liked people who made money, as long as they were "real"! So none of us liked poor Rebecca Black...
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:28 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


My friends and I made Super-8 films in high school that I think might have been digitized, but that haven't made it onto YouTube, and heaven forfend that they ever do get posted, because, yeah.

Another mid-30s* friend and I were talking about how we, oddly, were among the least videoed set of teenagers since home video became a thing. There was a gap where VHS was way out of date but digital media storage hadn't caught up so there are zero videos of us as teenagers.

*oh my god where does the time go
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:31 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I think we liked people who made money, as long as they were "real"!

So - I have to admit, for a very long time I fell into the trap of "must be true musician/artist" to have my respect.

The internet, YouTube changed my perspective - right when Lady Gaga was beginning to hit big, I saw her acoustic/piano versions of her songs, and Miley doing some covers (Dolly/bluegrass IIRC) as well - and that's when I finally saw that, yes - they were artists like any other, who had worked hard to perfect their craft.

Then the new generation of talent shows arrived - and my family watched - I started by just being in the room, reading a book, but... soon I was permanently changed - I had always liked covers of songs, with different perspectives/styles and now - I got a bit of a glimpse into the actual people who worked hard at performing. At the end of the day, these are people like all of us - working hard to do their thing.

So mad props to Rebecca for coming through that and staying grounded, continuing in music and ignoring the haters.
posted by jkaczor at 6:39 AM on July 8 [8 favorites]


"she leveraged the advantage of being rich, white, and young to achieve temporary succes

She Didn't leverage anything. She was a child who got a gift from her parents. Everything that happened with the song and video, from the writing and recording to the funding to the viral promotion, was done by adults for reasons that often had nothing to do with her reasons for, again, receiving a gift.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:56 AM on July 8 [32 favorites]


the older i get the more i am coming to believe that ironic detachment is one of the most overrated qualities in a human
posted by lazaruslong at 7:06 AM on July 8 [14 favorites]




She Didn't leverage anything. She was a child who got a gift from her parents. Everything that happened with the song and video, from the writing and recording to the funding to the viral promotion, was done by adults for reasons that often had nothing to do with her reasons for, again, receiving a gift.

Don't worry. Come the revolution, we're throwing all of those people in the Gulag along with Rebecca.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:42 AM on July 8


we're throwing all of those people in the Gulag

Eponysterical
posted by jkaczor at 7:48 AM on July 8 [11 favorites]


You know, the Ark Music Factory fee was something like $2,000 - $4,000... That's a lot of money but it's hardly bourgeois "let them eat cake" money. It's the cost of a new Macbook. It's a fun day with kids playing pretend at being adults and being with their friends for about the cost of a high-end Bar Mitzvah but with a product at the end.

I remember the "dancing girl in pink" seemed to walk away with a good attitude as well, having leveraged her 15 minutes of Internet fame into some charitable fundraising. This interview from 2016 also recounts that they all drifted apart, as kids often do, (https://splinternews.com/rebecca-black-s-friday-video-a-q-a-with-that-girl-i-1793855409) but, hell, if they did a reunion video, I'd watch it.

What's really interesting about both of these interviews is that the stories seem to be really polished and sympathetic and mature. There's probably something manufactured in that, as well, but I don't think that's problematic. I'd guess that it's an outcome from growing up fast in the early 2010s Internet troll spotlight.

The fact that all of this was kicked off with a hurtful Tosh.0 segment is too telling. If we're going to talk about unwarranted fame, Daniel Tosh himself is a great place to start.
posted by Skwirl at 8:07 AM on July 8 [21 favorites]


"There was a gap where VHS was way out of date but digital media storage hadn't caught up so there are zero videos of us as teenagers. "

The only video footage I am aware of from my teenage years is when I had a small role in a movie our ~senior friends~ were making called Defense Ninjas. I was a male prostitute and was briefly humped topless and my girlfriend at the time wanted to break up with me over it.

Ironically, I think that the now-30s kids transition period left them out of a lot of things that have become teenage fabric at this point. Some of it is really good, like, I never inadvertently made child porn by taking nude pictures of my teenage self.

I remember Friday because it's at least a catchy song, it's something I think about at least one Friday a month because I'll say it in that cadence to someone or talk about needing to get down because of what day it is.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:07 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the hate directed at Rebecca Black seems really shitty now, and I absolutely do not buy that it was some sort of well-reasoned critique of her white privilege. That's ex post facto justification at its finest. We can have that conversation now, if we really want to, but that was definitely not the source of the incredible vitriol she got in 2011.

Go back and find the original Tosh.0 clip or some of the other early 'responses' to Friday when the web started to turn on her, and it's absolutely the Internet at its worst, going after a teenage girl because teenage girls are soft targets for your-favorite-[whatever]-sucks hate. It got very nasty, very fast, and it was totally unjustified in its level of nastiness.

The artistic merits of the song as a song are... debatable, sure. A lot of hate seems to center on its 'corporateness' or some sort of 'manufactured' quality, and there might be a kernel of truth there, but it's a lot less corporate than your average song on the radio; I mean, the total budget was $5k and it was done in a day. That's pretty scrappy, as music videos go. Is it an extravagant gift to give a teenager? Maybe, I mean that depends on what perspective you come at it from: it's not out of line with the budget for a bat mitzvah or a quinceañera (to say nothing of rhinoplasty), and less than some music-oriented summer camps. It's not exactly Russian oligarch money. If someone's problem with the song is that Black's parents spent $5k on their teenage kid for a daylong experience with her friends, I think they need to check the scale setting on their outrage meter before they point it elsewhere in the world and it burns out.

No, I think Black's cardinal sin, in the eyes of the Internet at the time, was that she didn't have the right level of ironic this-really-isn't-cool-whatever detachment. I don't think Tosh.0 and the rest of the trolls went after her because of her white privilege (glass houses, buddy), I think they went after her because of her lack of irony, and her general earnestness. Someone who is earnestly doing something is by definition opening themselves up; it's a chink in the armor, and thus always a tempting target for would-be bullies. There's nothing bullies like better than finding someone who seems to be genuinely having fun and shitting on it. There's no satisfaction in kicking over a sandcastle that someone is building ironically, they'll just roll their eyes at you. Nope, you gotta find the person who is really emotionally invested in their sandcastle, particularly if they're getting positive attention for it, and kick that one down. Look at any target of bullying, especially 'ironic' or I'm-only-joking bullying, and it'll almost always be in proportion to the target's perceived earnestness.

If there's any positive takeaway from Friday, it's that there was some counter-reaction to the bullying, and I think it might have helped slightly in what appears to be a slow movement away from holier-than-thou ironic detachment as the culturally-approved attitude for everyone, all the time, and its enforcement as a cultural norm by attacking anyone who doesn't conform to it. The culture seems to be friendlier now to genuine interest and earnestness, in a way that it wasn't even 10 years ago, and certainly wasn't 10 years before that. I hope we can keep moving in that direction, because ironic detachment is a really shitty way to go through life.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:05 AM on July 8 [36 favorites]


Rebecca Black paid (or her parents paid) for a professionally produced music video that she promptly capitalized on as soon as it went viral

It was Rebecca's single mother who paid for the video as a gift to her daughter.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:31 AM on July 8 [9 favorites]


She seems remarkably level headed about the whole thing, and I approve of her use of "persnickety". Good luck Ms. Black.
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 9:53 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


For me, the fact that she was already seriously focused on music and musical theater, and was auditioning heavily, really puts this in a different light. The video's an expensive, cute artifact-- but it sounds like making it was also a pretty great career exploration experience for her: intense and extensive, but also gentle, individualized, and affirming (at least until tosh.0 got hold of it.) I can totally see a reasonable parent (albeit an affluent one) deciding that something like that would be worthwhile.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:27 AM on July 8 [6 favorites]


The knee-jerk posts in here about white privilege and white affluence are Metafilter at its worst.

Rebecca Black is Mexican-American; her parents are veterinarians, not hedge fund managers.

Her mom paid $4,000 in installments basically to create a sizzle reel her musically inclined daughter could use for auditions.

Get a grip, people.
posted by mpbx at 10:45 AM on July 8 [32 favorites]


Actually, I take back what I said about it being Metafilter at its worst. There are clearly worse things going on here. But it’s still crummy!
posted by mpbx at 10:51 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Actually, I take back what I said about it being Metafilter at its worst. There are clearly worse things going on here. But it’s still crummy!
posted by mpbx at 10:51 AM on July 8 [+] [!]


No, I'm with you on this one - the amount of vitriol aimed at her family's alleged "wealth" is out of proportion with what really happened.
posted by tantrumthecat at 10:58 AM on July 8 [6 favorites]


Her mom paid $4,000 in installments basically to create a sizzle reel her musically inclined daughter could use for auditions.

As noted above, her *single* mom. Parents are divorced.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:26 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Go back and find the original Tosh.0 clip or some of the other early 'responses' to Friday when the web started to turn on her...

"Friday" never appeared on the Tosh.0 show, just in Tosh's blog (archive.org link). Her appearance in the blog and in Mike Nelson's Twitter feed are probably responsible for the viralness of the video, but neither was a particularly negative spotlight, y'know?
posted by hanov3r at 11:42 AM on July 8


Her mom paid $4,000 in installments basically to create a sizzle reel her musically inclined daughter could use for auditions.

As was said above - that is the price of a top-notch Macbook (if you want to encourage your programmer/music creator/animator offspring), or a used-car (if you want them to have independence and maybe a first time job), or a couple years worth of lessons/specialized camps in something. Or even those kids who are playing sports at elite levels. Shouldn't parents be actually praised for investing in their kids like this? It's not the same as the "privilege" of paying someone to photoshop your offspring into college...

I am actually amazed that something with such a shoestring budget went so viral - that was actually a great return investment for all parties involved.
posted by jkaczor at 11:49 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


A couple years of specialized camps? Four thousand dollars is the cost of one 3-6ish week summer camp program. Not even necessarily a specialized one. Which is wild.
posted by mosst at 12:02 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


the older i get the more i am coming to believe that ironic detachment is one of the most overrated qualities in a human
posted by lazaruslong at 10:06 AM on July 8 [8 favorites −]


You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth

posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:27 PM on July 8


I knew about Rebecca Black when she went viral, but I didn't pay much attention. So much of the discourse around her seemed mean at the expense of a young girl, and I didn't want to be a part of that.

I did, however, listen to "Anyway" and "Do You?" Those are really nice singles--there's a pleasantly Carly Rae Jepsen-meets-Sylvan Esso quality to them. I'm glad she's making music that's good, and I hope she continues.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:30 PM on July 8


To put this in perspective, a friend has a kid who is now in their early 30s and plays a classical instrument at a major-city-symphony level. To the kid's credit, they are very, very good and have always been absolutely dedicated to mastering their craft. My friend told me that the cost has been in the low seven figures, spent over 20 years, to support this endeavor.

I think the video is a pretty great gift, and $4,000 is peanuts to what can be spent. I'll have to go watch the original again, but my impression at the time was that the whole video was fun and earnest...there are always plenty of ways the producers of such a video can let "ironic detachment" sneak in and make fun of the performer, and I'm glad they didn't.
posted by maxwelton at 12:41 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


I recall thinking at the time that the song compared reasonably well to the, at the time relatively recent, inanity which is the Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling". I mean, the lyrics are a bit overwrought, but still deeper than listing the days of the week to fill time. It's awkward and dopey and I hope in the end it made her happy.
posted by meinvt at 2:58 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I remember reading about it as "the worst song ever" and after watching the original video thinking it really was not *that* bad, certainly not worth the amount of vitriol it brought on. My recollection is that people thought her parents were trying to buy her fame, and the vitriol was about bashing her "privilege".

It's cool to know the real story. I'm glad to hear she's doing ok.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:04 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


The knee-jerk posts in here about white privilege and white affluence are Metafilter at its worst.

Rebecca Black is Mexican-American


Yeah, this discourse was making me feel very uncomfortable.

She seems like a really well adjusted woman who's done well. I feel sorry for all the abuse she had to deal with, for doing nothing than making a pop video.
posted by daybeforetheday at 1:54 AM on July 9 [11 favorites]


"Friday" never appeared on the Tosh.0 show, just in Tosh's blog

Huh. I would have sworn on a stack of bibles that I saw a clip of the show containing parts of it, but I believe you if it was just on his blog. Hell of a false memory, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:35 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


The last day of my freshman year of college, I remember sitting at late night, eating taco rice and hearing "Friday" being played in the dining commons. Such a fond memory.
posted by yueliang at 8:36 AM on July 9


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