Featured Essays

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Rebecca Black Story – A Commentary on the Pop Music Industry

The Rebecca Black Story – A Commentary on the Pop Music Industry

Rebecca Black became famous for all the wrong reasons.

In the age of social media, where unknown artists are constantly discovered online, it is easy for anyone to post a music video on Youtube, but much harder to get noticed among the many others vying for the same ambitions. How does one distinguish themselves from all the wannabe musicians on the Internet? The thirteen-year-old Rebecca Black may have discovered an unlikely answer. This week, she became an instant online sensation after her debut music video "Friday" launched on Youtube. In the span of seven days, she achieved over 20 million views on Youtube, broke top records on Twitter, and quickly climbing the sales charts on iTunes. It is quite a feat for somebody so young and so inexperienced within the music industry.

The reason why Rebecca became popular is not because she sings extraordinarily well. In fact, being the exact opposite has propelled her to infamy across the world. She was brought to public awareness after a comedic segment on Tosh 2.0, which described it as the worst song of all time. Indeed, there are numerous elements about "Friday" that culminated to a cringe worthy experience. Whether it is the nasally voice, the banal lyrics, or the awkward dancing, the majority opinion is overwhelmingly unfavourable. Yet, like a train wreck in motion, our pop culture remained fixated with this aspiring starlet. After a while, you may become accustomed or even enjoy the catchy beat of the terrible song!

The Rolling Stone offered an intriguing perspective on Rebecca Black's recent infamy. One writer believes this song is an unintentional parody on the music industry. "Friday", which is a song that literally describes the days of the week, epitomizes the banality of pop music nowadays. Anyone can put together a commercialized music video, with little regards to the quality of the singing or the overall message. Who needs a good voice when there's auto-tune software? Who needs profound lyrics when there's a tedious yet catchy beat instead?

Rebecca Black's recent infamy reflects the increasing superficiality within the music industry, because it's all about the packaging nowadays. In fact, Rebecca's label "The Ack Factory" is an apt title to describe the prevalent issue at hand; the entire industry is indeed like a factory, churning out generic songs with little originality or depth. "Friday" might not be the worst piece of music ever in existence, but its notoriety is an indication that the pop music industry has hit rock bottom.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

You Are Fired, Charlie Sheen - Analyzing Celebrity Notoriety

Analyzing Celebrity Notoriety of Charlie Sheen

How will the fifteen million Americans survive without the uncouth presence of Charlie Sheen on their television screens?

It was the firing that took the entertainment industry and popular culture by storm.  The notorious Charlie Sheen, television's highest paying actor, was terminated from his employment at CBS/Warner Brothers after his multiple public altercations with Two and a Half Men executive producer Chuck Lorres.  Like two children slinging insults across the school playground, Sheen and Lorres used the media as a platform to express their obvious disdain towards each other, until Warner Brothers finally had enough and cut the 45-year-old actor away for good.  A scandal of this magnitude would have been the biggest public disgrace in any actor's career; but for Charlie Sheen, it was just a typical stumble among his many public wrongdoings in the past.

The story begins with our protagonist (antagonist?) Sheen checking into rehab for his drug/sex/take-your pick addition.  He is scheduled a temporary vacation from his regular taping of Two and a Half Men during the recovery.  All went well and CBS wished him the best, but the problem arose when Sheen felt patronized by his employers.  They did not truly care about his "ailment"; they are more concerned about keeping Sheen's problems under wraps so their moneymaker program will stay on the air for as long as possible.  Sheen begins to act out, demanding a salary raise to $3 million, and vocally broadcast all his dirty laundry with producer Chuck Lorres.  His unruly behaviour reached a point of unacceptability, where he was even accused of being anti-Semitic, and  so Charlie Sheen was officially fired from Two and a Half Men.

Of course, Sheen is no stranger to media notoriety in the past.  This is a man with an admitted drug (cocaine) addiction.  This is a man who also got busted in multiple prostitution scandals.  This is a man who even previously reported a murder to the police (it turns out to be a very realistic snuff film).  Charlie Sheen is already used to being in the spotlight.  He's used to being a topic of discussion in our pop culture.  Unlike other celebrities, however, he thrives on the negative publicity and becomes even more popular as the undisputed bad boy of the television industry.

His latest employment scandal should not come as a surprise to anybody familiar with his past track record.  One must wonder though if Sheen truly crossed the line this time.  By engaging in such a nasty altercation with his boss, did he sink to an irredeemable new low?  The millions of viewers who tune in to watch Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men may forgive his past indecencies with drugs and escorts, but will they continue to put up with his delinquent behaviour?  When does the lovable bad boy become the unlovable media scoundrel?  

How much bad press is too much?