The Dark Joy of Hating Rebecca Black

While I am not remotely interested in Rebecca Black or her new song, “Saturday”, I find it fascinating that merely two days after her video was published on YouTube, it boasts over 9 million hits.

Think about that for a second, because it says almost nothing about Rebecca Black and a great deal about our society. Throughout social media Black is talked about and roundly mocked, and all of these people who supposedly don’t like her product made haste to view her video, why?

So they could then report to twitter and facebook and join in the witless, often vulgar sneering at her.

So they could rush to embrace the dark joy of hate — to be included in the mockery, lest they be thought out of touch — to add a brick to the designated “safe hate” moment, which will be for all the people: Go make fun of Rebecca Black, everyone, and direct your self-hate that-a-way for a few; don’t worry, it will come back to you, later!

Pope Francis has referred to “the dark joy of gossip”, the soul-shriveling pssssting that we slip into — again, to assuage our self-loathing and temporarily feel included, privileged and superior. The sort of hate that drives 9 million people to view a video of an admittedly vapid song — and then encourage others to view it so they can make fun of it, too — seems like a logical outgrowth of the gussied-up gossip upon which social media thrives.

Bullies love a crowd; the crowd gives cover for cowardice and seems to validate the bullying; it says, “see…others think this way, too.”

There’s no point in asking whether we are a society of bullies; we all indulge in bullying, sometimes, either openly or passive-aggressively. It is a symptom of our shared brokenness, and a deep, cold crevasse that can slide us right into the fires of hell.

But this public engagement with hate, it reminds me a little of the “two-minutes hate” in Orwell’s 1984. That was a scheduled social exercise that had the effect of both relieving personal stress through manic, sanctioned ranting and affirming one’s place in the crowd — nay, one’s need for the crowd — and its safe, accepted “logic.”

Last night, I was talking to Dan Sealana on his radio show, The Mess, and before I went on he talked about the fake Paris Hilton tweet that went out, upon the death of Nelson Mandela. The tweet, of course, was offered up to the crowd for no other purpose than allow a hate-feeding on Hilton, who managed to prove that she had not sent it. Sealana confessed to feeling a bit bad for Hilton, who did nothing to deserve being offered for a public lynching/munching.

Again, the fact that people were so quick to not only believe the tweet (without even looking at the source, which was just a few hours old) but to slip right into hate-mode, says more about us than about Paris Hilton who — whatever you may think of her — was created by a God who loves her, and wants her with him.

That’s something I need to remind myself, also, when I get ready to rant on this fellow.

By my middle-aged lights, the new Rebecca Black song is pretty bad, but to be honest it’s not much worse than a lot of the over-processed, oversynthesized bubblegum girlpop that I find unlistenable. And in her video she manages to make fun of herself a bit, which — increasingly — I am finding to be a virtue worth practicing. It is, perhaps, the antidote to our embrace of the bully.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Carol

    I also think of Justin Bieber regarding this article too and look at him now. Poor thing.

  • TheOtherAndrewB

    I remember when Rebecca Black’s first video came out, and everyone commented that it was the worst song of all time. I was baffled. Yes, it is pointless and annoying, but what ISN’T in popular culture today? If you had slipped that into rotation with the top songs in America for that week I would have noticed no decline in quality. Autotune has relieved singers of any need to possess talent, so all that’s left is looks and attitude. Glad to be an old fogey.

  • Manny

    Never heard of Rebecca Black before, but that was one aweful song. I thought you were exaggerating but you’re not. I couldn’t go beyond two minutes worth.

  • laura

    While some people may be genuinely hating, I suspect the majority of people are just having a little fair fun. I’m from a large, loving family and we get a hoot out of ribbing whoever did the last stupid thing, until the next person does a more stupid thing. It’s not hating, it is just enjoying the ridiculousness of life. I doubt most people want Ms. Black to die and burn in hell – I think they’re just glad they aren’t going viral for something so silly.

    If you’re the sort of person who laughs at yourself easily, when you laugh at others it isn’t malice, it’s empathy.

  • MeanLizzie

    I don’t know if I agree with that. I came from one of those families that “ribbed whoever did the last stupid thing.” As kids, it felt like bullying on our ends.

  • Paul Cat

    It is like mom used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

  • Victor

    If truth be told wouldn’t it be that all us simply want to be needed again?


  • Bo

    I agree with this. Otherwise, folks like Chaucer and even Dante seem like sure candidates for hell, if there is no room at all for enjoying the folly of human affairs…

  • Tessye

    I don’t normally comment, but I was compelled to write. I’ve never heard of Rebecca Black until now, just viewed her YouTube video Saturday and her response to the “bullies” in Dealing With Hate. In her Saturday video, she seems to be super talented when expressing her views of what some young people consider fun and exciting in a secular society. I don’t know how much of Rebecca’s video is satire or of her own expression of “fun”, as it was hard to distinguish, but it makes me sad to think the video’s focal point to life is partying, where there are no morals and “fun” has no limits, definately a stereo-typed view of what “cool young hip people” do for fun. What gets me, in a young person’s mind, this message can put a lot of self inflictive pressure when measuring to society “standards”, especially where God is not a priority or non-existent. When I viewed Rebecca’s video, Dealing With Hate, she gave great advice to love yourself and love others as they are, no one is perfect. She said she’s all for constructive criticism, but has learned to ignore senseless negative feedback such as name calling and hateful comments. She also shared an experience in her life on how society’s views of “beauty” impacted her to change to meet that “standard”, which she later realized was wrong and realized the power society has over people (I know this takes courage to go up against it)…for a being very young, Rebecca shows a lot of wisdom. After watching both videos, Rebecca seems to be in a battle between herself and society, if she is being sarcastic about society in her music video Saturday, her message is ambiguous to me, it did not scream satire and looked no different from what the secular society puts out as “fun” as in those Absolute vodka commercials or Black Eyed Pea’s “I gotta feeling” music video. Rebecca needs to take a stronger and clearer stand behind her satire by applying that wisdom message in, Dealing With Hate, to her next music videos; perhaps “revealing herself” and not being afraid to stand up to society will weed out most bullies or help some of those bullies relate to her message of love and the errors of society as God will find a place in her works. It’s all or nothing!

  • Laura

    Lizzie, we’re a nice mix of Irish-Italian, we like to eat and laugh, we’re all adult practicing Catholics with big families who love to get together. I don’t think any of us felt/feel bullied.

  • MeanLizzie