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Social Media, Criticism and the Worst Song Ever

As evidenced by the buttons scattered around the site, I've plunged into the pool of public over-sharing that is Twitter. I resisted for a long time, raging against the arbitrary tyranny of a 140-character limit, but was persuaded it would be to my benefit on account of my allegedly being a quasi-public figure and, to my surprise ... well, duck and water are the words that spring to mind.

Which is how I came to find out about Rebecca Black. Her name had been consistently trending on Twitter for days, and quick recourse to the appropriate hashtag revealed an extraordinary amount of invective. Who was this girl? The Googles, as ever, provided instant answers, in the form of articles referring to "the worst song in history" and the fact that said song was so bad that the official video had gone super-viral. By the time I clicked on it, it had amassed something like 22 million hits in a little over a week.

So I watched. And ... well, yes, it is indeed spectacularly awful. Derivative, repetitive, and numbing in the banality of its lyrics. Just shockingly dreadful, in fact. So bad, it is almost hypnotizing. Had it been a deliberately ironic parody of all that is wrong with cookie-cutter auto-tuned music, it would have been brilliance personified.

And yet ...

After posting the link on my Facebook page, and thus contributing to the overall noise, I began to feel guilty. The girl, it turns out, is only 13. The song and video weren't really truly meant for widespread consumption; it's a vanity project, the song pre-written and the video produced by a company that creates these kinds of packages for a small fee for young girls (and they seem to be exclusively girls) who want to be in music videos.

On one level, most of these videos are fairly dire - most, in fact, worse than Rebecca Clark's hugely vilified effort. But they're not meant to be works of great artistic merit. They are what they are: The twenty-first century equivalent of having the family portrait taken at the mall, or popping into a recording booth and laying down a track. Are they really any more awful or vain than crooning drunkenly into a karaoke machine?

Maybe the fuss Black's video generated is an inevitable consequence of a culture that increasingly eschews privacy and yearns for even fleeting fame, in which social media means that everyone is fair game and everyone a critic. Maybe young Rebecca deeply regrets pursuing her dream. Or maybe she is reaping benefits from it that she could only previously have dreamed about.

Or maybe I should stop over-analyzing it, and allow myself to do what I did initially, and revel in the cheesy craptacularity of the thing.

UPDATE: Of all people, Nicole Richie expressed, IMO, the perfect happy medium - via Twitter, of course: "Rebecca Black is DOPE! I'm gonna support her music, her work, & her dream.... But still make Friday jokes #almostagoodperson"
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