May 15, 2019
From The Makers Of Rebecca Black’s "Friday," An Exploration Of Vanity, Intersectionality, And Chinese Food
This delightful (?) ode to Chinese food is the fruit of a collaboration between a very young lady named Alison Gold and Patrice Wilson’s ARK Music Factory. ARK is best known for producing Rebecca Black’s much-loathed “Friday,” a song that probably still pops unbidden into your head despite the fact that you hate it.
The enduring presence of “Friday” in popular culture reflects a common desire to feel superior. “This song is bad,” we say, “and I recognize its badness, therefore I am good.” Or, “This song exists because a vain girl and her indulgent parents paid for it. I would never do such a thing, therefore I am good.” Rebecca Black will see your high-horsism and raise you an “I am just a young person who did a thing she liked.” So will Alison Gold.
Hopefully, Gold’s parents and/or her writer-producer Patrice Wilson prepared her for the predictable disdain of the smug thumbs-downists. She has the advantage of arriving after the Rebecca Blacklash, so the mass negativity shouldn’t take her by surprise. Hopefully, she can just be happy with the fact that so many people are talking about her.
But is there something to the view that these vanity exercises earn our contempt by representing a kind of clueless privilege? Are these girls, or their parents, or music factories like ARK, especially responsible for perpetuating an unjust status quo in which brilliantly talented musicians busk for a few dollars on mass transit, while the spawn of the wealthy go shopping for fame? In a word, no. In three more words, don’t be silly. Let’s not confuse symptoms for causes. We live in a country and a world beset by vast inequalities in which everyone not born rich is expected to toil in whatever dismal employment is available, and damn their art if the big break never comes.
If you hate Rebecca Black and Alison Gold for their privilege, you should also hate every aspiring American Idol with the means to travel to an audition. You should hate every kid whose parents can buy them music lessons. And you should hate everyone whose genetic make-up renders them attractive enough to justify hiring songwriting and production teams to overcome their creative deficits. And maybe you do. Maybe you do extensive research to make sure that every musician you enjoy had absolutely no help getting where they are; that they made it solely on their own talent and hard work. But you probably don’t.
In researching this story, I learned that Patrice Wilson is an immigrant from Nigeria, and I was reminded of Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry. These films are made on low budgets, but they’re made quick, and they’re very popular. They satisfy a demand. Wilson is making this formula work in America, and we should congratulate him even as we lament the unlikely ear-worms he’s unleashed.
There are no villians here. Only people with desires not unlike your own. And magic pandas: