An Open Letter to Rebecca Black (And Anyone Who Wants to be Like Her)

She's everywhere! Make it stop!

April 8, 2011

Music’s dead.

At least, pop music is dead. I know, I know. Every generation thinks its music is crap. I’m too old if I start whining about the kids and their music and their Beibers and all that. Yes, I know that we’ve always had crappy music and the really good stuff is the stuff that gets remembered.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to dismiss the utter crap fest I’ve been hearing on the radio.

I stopped listening to the radio in about 1999, back when every other song was Backstreet Boys. I swore off radio and the closest thing I used for a while was Pandora. I really have only a cursory knowledge of popular music in the last ten years aside from what I see on TV, in movies, or happen to read about.

So, Rebecca, as a concerned artist, I want to tell you to stop.

You’re a celebrity. Congratulations. So’s Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Kim Kardashian. Nice list. They’re pretty much famous for making fools of themselves. And you’ve joined them whether you want to admit it or not.

Let’s go down the list of things done wrong, shall we?


Rebecca Black: Friday by ~mexicanpryde2000 on deviantART

Your parents paid for the music video and recording.

Someone else wrote the lyrics.

The video is just one notch above “middle school project with a camera and pirated copy of Final Cut.”

All you did was get dressed and sing. And you didn’t even do that! You got Auto-Tunned for half the song!

Look, I know Auto-Tunning is the latest, best thing to happen to people who want a music carrer. Without it, Ke$ha would be an alcoholic with a camcorder drowning in her own vomit. Even without it, she’s nothing special. You, Rebecca? You had a dream. You wanted to be famous. Did you practice singing? Train yourself in poetry and songwriting? Listen to the classics of pop music?

No. Your parents forked over $4,000 dollars to get your face plastered on a song where your own voice isn’t even heard. It’d be like me paying someone to write Charcoal Streets over a weekend, then putting my mug all over the cover.


Rebecca black by ~ItalianxGal on deviantART

Plus, the lyrics? I’d ask for my money back.

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

I already have a headache. It’s the lyrical equivalent of white noise. It also proves that if you have nothing to say, say nothing at all.

7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal

Gotta have my bowl? Are you smoking weed? Are you on the dope!?

Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’

Yup. You’re stoned off your gourd, aren’t you, Rebecca?

Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

You remind me of that scene in Knocked Up where Paul Rudd’s character gets freaked out by the number of chairs in the room. Just pick a damn seat!

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Also, people look forward to happy hour, 5 o’clock, lunch time, and the week’s episode of Criminal Minds.

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Okay, a few things. First of all, you’re thirteen. You’re frakking thirteen years old. What “partying” are you doing? Unless you’re snorting coke off a Justin Beiber CD or smoking that bowl from earlier, you’re not “partying.” You’re hanging out with friends at Chuck E. Cheese.

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly
Fun, fun, think about fun

Well someone’s been reading The Secret. Hey, I can think about fun all I want, but it won’t make it so. I suppose one could make the argument that by moving faster, as you suggest, you could indeed use time dilation to make time outside your vehicle move at a much slower rate… But I doubt your songwriter knows how to spell relativity.

You know what it is
I got this, you got this
My friend is by my right
I got this, you got this
Now you know it

I’m sitting in a chair. My hands touch the keyboard. My fiancé is at work. Okay, now your turn to spout out more blatantly obvious observations. Also, any point to telling us your friend is on the right? And, from a grammatical viewpoint, what is “this” you are referring to? I’m sorry I don’t speak “street.”

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

Wait, you’re hanging out with high schoolers? You’re what? In seventh grade? How are these friends of yours driving?! …Hold on. I thought you were already in the car. What-

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday

Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Friday isn’t the weekend, Rebecca. On Friday AFTERNOON, you can start enjoying the weekend. People still work on Friday. If you’re so stressed in eight grade that you look forward to getting down on the weekend, you’re either in a very work-intensive middle school or you have no concept of what it really means to be stressed.

I’ve never seen a more blatant example of clutter in my life, too. There are words and phrases here that are just taking space. It’s like the writer simply got the beat for the song, then played Mad Libs trying to fill the void… and the void stared back and said, “Screw you.”


Friday by ~PeaceLoveMulan on deviantART

Look, these lyrics were obviously written by someone who wanted to appeal to teens who think the weekend is about partying all the time and dancing in a brightly lit room, but clubs are full of sweaty idiots who smell like Bud Light because they can’t stomach real beer. Real parties with teens typically have one idiot who brought a controlled substance.

Everyone has a dream. I have mine. You, Rebecca, obviously have yours. And I’m not being unfair by critiquing this. “But she’s just a kid,” I can hear some of my readers saying. “Leave her alone.”

No. You put this out there, you get the same amount of scrutiny the rest of us get when we put something out. I’m not about to give you a bronze medal just because you tried.

You, and Beiber, and Ke$ha, and your ilk are overproduced performers who go hyped to the top. You’re like Episode I, but more annoying because I can choose to not hear Jar Jar. I keep hearing this stupid song everywhere!

Let’s clean out those brain lobes with some linkage.

  • And finally, let me leave you with two of the most awesome things in the world: classic Michael Jackson and Transformers. See you Monday!

Clichés That Must Die

My God... It's full of fail...

April 4, 2011

UPDATE: Fellow blogger and long-time logophile Amy at Dark Archivist has a rebuttal to one point in this article. Touché, my friend.

If you’re anything like me, you love you some science fiction, fantasy, and horror. There’s nothing better than an epic space battle with battleships the size of Alaska blasting each other with nuclear-yield weapons, a suspenseful chase as a vicious killer chases the last remaining protagonist you actually like, or the swarms of eldritch sigils flying through the air as a practitioner of the dark arts invokes otherworldly powers to crush his foes.

Good times…

As much as I’m a fan of the genre, there are those things that just… bug me. Really bug me. They’re things that seem to have just taken hold of the collective imagination for both writers and fans. They’ve become standard, not necessarily something you choose to use. Imagine if you suddenly found out that you didn’t need to use a ball to play baseball and could use rocks, or if you learned that cars could easily be built with three wheels and we picked four because, well, someone did it like that first.


Possessed Mind by *tashythemushroom on deviantART

Nightgowns and Little Girls

Look at The Ring, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Exorcist, and The Last Exorcism. What do they have in common aside from mentally tormented young girls and an overuse of the term “exorcism”? If you guessed a white nightgown, you’re right.

I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure The Exorcist started this one. It made sense back then. Regan was a young girl who was thought to be sick, so it makes sense mommy dearest put her in her sleeping gown to make her comfortable. But why oh why did every woman dealing with a ghost or demon (or herself a ghost) have to wear this now? It’s like the similarly ridiculous “ black trench coat = mysterious badass” mentality.

Why not a hospital gown or even regular clothes? Why not just regular pajamas?  The easy answer is that such clothes can easily date a character, but a nightgown is something that, at least today, looks old. How many women out there own a nightgown like the ones worn in these films? Anyone?


Organic Space Ship v1 by ~bastilg on deviantART

We’re Fighting a Militarized Rutabaga

What’s that? An alien ship approaching your  interstellar flagship? Oh no! It’s organic! It appears to have been grown by an advanced civilization. All its systems are carbon-based weapons and armor. All your ship has is a laminated alloy hull with ceramic plates for heat dissipation, high-powered coilguns, and thermonuclear missiles.

Oh noes.

Really, though, this one is just plain annoying. It’s hard to really pin down where this one started. Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee Timeline stories have a version of this little cliché wherein the god-like Xeelee “grow” their technology, although it’s not organic, so the description is a bit vague. Babylon 5, Star Wars (New Jedi Order), and even Battlestar Galactica to an extent all used the assumption that organic technology is superior to simple metal and artificial materials designed from the ground up to perform a specific task.

Do you think “organic” is better? Would you rather wade into battle with a vest made of hardwood or advanced ceramics and Kevlar built to withstand such strain?

Would you rather have a dozen mathematicians in a room perform split second calculations for orbital reentry or have a single computer system built with accuracy to the trillionth degree?

Would you rather have an artificial  weapon, like a gun that fires ferrous slugs at a fraction the speed of light, or biological weapons that are indiscriminate, can be killed by extreme temperature and radiation, and may even mutate?

I’ll stick with metal and circuits, thank you.


Mexican Jedi. by ~VictorViin18 on deviantART

Where are the Brown People?

This one’s a personally sore spot for me. For a show like Star Trek, one which claims to be multicultural, to not have a single prominent Hispanic character besides the animalistic B’Elanna Torres is inexcusable. Want to know how many Hispanic characters I can count in speculative fiction?

Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie), Bender from Futurama, and Vazquez from Aliens.

Adama doesn’t count because although he’s played by a Mexican American actor, he does not portray a Hispanic character.

It seems that, in the future, there are no Mexicans, Ecuadorans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, or anything else. We’ve got Europeans, Asian-inspired culture to pander to the anime crowd, and some assorted ethnicities for flavoring. But where are the Mexicans?

Or the Costa Ricans? Brazilians? Chileans? Iraqis? Turks? Libyans? Anyone brown?

I really can’t find a good example of these demographics in speculative fiction. Sorry. Any idea?


Coca Cola by ~Telegraph-Road on deviantART

Why do writers still use these ideas? The best explanation is that at some point, it sounded or looked cool. The nightgown made sense from a storytelling perspective. Biological technology has some useful applications. At one point, Latin Americans were a fringe minority. We know better today, and yet these ideas linger on. These are only three little clichés, but I was thinking about them this weekend. There are many more, and maybe I’ll explain some later.

In the meantime, enjoy these links, and I’ll see you on Wednesday.  

  • We have some nice black bookshelves in the apartment, but if we have the time, money, and space, I’d certainly love to get one of these awesome bookcases.
  • And finally, I just barely watched The Hangover a few weeks ago and loved it. And now I can’t wait for the sequel. Check out the new trailer below, and I’ll see you on Wednesday!