Up until a few days ago, I have been able to avoid/ignore/completely miss the whole Rebecca Black thing. We canceled our TV awhile back so I missed the news media coverage, and I have gotten into the habit of ignoring most internet memes because I find them to be either annoying or mean spirited.
OK, let’s get the preliminaries out of the way, before I kick the rant into high gear… The song isn’t the worst song I have ever heard. I would rather listen to “Friday” than the neo-nazi classic “The Road To Valhalla”. ANY FUCKING DAY, EVER! (Especially if it was this version of “The Road To Valhalla”). It is an innocuous bit of modern pop fluff. Bigger artists have released material on par with the mediocre that is Rebecca Black. I’ll admit that the lyric is pretty horrible, but so is the lyric to Avril Lavigne’s “My Happy Ending”. And don’t get me started on K-Fed’s “Popozao”. ::shudder::
Song content wise there isn’t much going on. She needs to get her cereal and go cruzin’ with her mates on Friday. Whatever. Rebecca Black was born in 1997(!), what do we want to hear her sing about? The pleasure/pain of sexual intercourse? The situation in Chechnya? Her well thought out arguments in favor of Bakuninism? The lyrics are simple and get the job done, like a good R. Kelly song. And about as deep.
As far as her vocal abilities? She’s better than Shakira, and worse than Aretha Franklin. That puts Rebacca Black square in the middle of the pack with every other pop chanteuse of the modern era. Throw in a little bit (or a lot) of AutoTune and the vocal is on par with just about anything that I hear on the rare occasions that I listen to music on the radio.
Over all I would say about Rebecca Black’s “Friday” what I say about most any song on the pop charts for the past decade or so: “My that’s a surprisingly catchy tune with a fairly horrendous vocal and an absurdly laughable lyric.”
But this post isn’t about this song’s merits or lack thereof, it is about parenting.
What people seem to not really be paying attention to in all of this, is the fact that this little girl wanted desperately to be a singer. She dreamed her little 13 year old dreams to be a pop star, and her mother went out and made it happen.
How often is a child allowed to pursue their crazy notions in the modern world? How often does a child even get the opportunity to fail at something as great and large as stardom? This little girl said “Momma, I wanna sing!”, and instead of the standard Western Culture patented condescending pat on the head and “Well, don’t we all” speech, her mother went out and figured out how to make it happen. This little girl’s mother finds ARK Music Factory and drops four grand on a counter and says “make my little girl a music video.”
As an unschooling parent, my wife and I try to do whatever we can to facilitate the wants and needs of our child. If he’s into bears, we introduce him to as much information about bears as we can. If he is into a video game, we’ll do our best to pony up the cash to buy a PS3 so he can play it. If he’s into math today, we’ll watch hours of Vi Hart and Khan Academy videos with him. If he’s having questions about theoretical physics, I’ll spend time explaining Thermodynamics and Schrödinger’s Cat. It is the contract that we have made with our child. In fact this unspoken contract is the main reason that we don’t send him to a traditional school. The schools have no vested interest in my child other that economically. They have no reason to work hard to provide him (or any child) with all of the resources that a naturally inquisitive seven and a half year old boy needs to explore his every whim and inquiry.
The traditional model of parenting since the dawn of the Nuclear Family has been to trust the State and its Educational System to give your child a general level of knowledge while, at home, the parents taught morality and values and indulged the child in a small number of frivolity. Well, in these current times, the State has dropped the ball educationally, and modern economics have made it nearly impossible for the average family to spend more than a few moments a day together. Kids are raised by the television and the internet and are force fed a line about dreams being impossible to come true.
My wife and I have made a commitment to our child. We have decided that we will sacrifice whatever is necessary to give our child an opportunity to pursue whatever paths that he chooses. We are his partners in this. I am saddened that when Rebecca Black’s mother decided to help her child reach her dreams and goals, that all we could do as a society is laugh and ridicule the result. It makes me smile to know that at least one little girl out there got to do whatever she really wanted to, and that her parents were there with her. Helping her to make it happen.
As far as I’m concerned, Rebecca Black is a lesson that we should study.
Just don’t make me listen to that song again…
Also, as an aside, I have read a bit of criticism leveled against ARK Music Factory, claiming that they prey on rich little girls and fleece their parents out of bundles of cash. I couldn’t disagree more. As a musician, I can tell you that it is tough to get a song written, produced, recorded, mixed, etc. etc. etc. for $4000, let alone get a fairly competently put together music video out of the deal. Are they a “vanity” label? Most assuredly, but that doesn’t change the fact that they send you home with a solid product to upload to your YouTube account to show off to your Grandparents and your friends.