An Analysis Of Rebecca Black’s “Friday”

When the “Black Plague” first began, I was critical. People all wanted to hate on this barely-pubescent girl over some shitty video she made, and I was all, “what do you expect when a tween makes a music video?” But then I finally got around to listening to the song. Needless to say, I was floored.

I was floored by its uncanny critique of contemporary capitalist society. Rebecca Black is the wunderkind of the new decade. Like Bob Dylan, she has a vocal styling that is an acquired taste, but her lyrics deceptively cut to the bone. Posturing as another Bieberesque jail-bat, she actually subverts the pop-culture rubric she’s allegedly espousing, and disrupts the mainstream, patriarchal gaze. Specifically, using the motif of the Gregorian Calendar and the seating arrangement of common automobiles, Black is problematizing the way western, free-market capitalism legislates our bodies.

Let us watch the video closely.

The video begins with an introduction to the Calendar motif. A CGI rendition of Black in interposed over the changing days. You may be thinking, Well this is just a shitty ready-to-order pop video. Not so fast. Note the grotesque quality of the CGI. This is a perversion of Black’s selfhood. Moreover, consider the fact that it is a representation of Black, not the “real” Black. This is her virtual representation, as constituted by the patriarchal gaze of the Calendar. “Just Another Manic Monday” hints at the bubbling Id, repressed by the bourgeois social contract. “I am Thursday’s Child” is a metaphor for how the workweek is her surrogate parents and has birthed this self-representation.

Friday is thus conceived as the socially accepted time in which we can rest from the workweek and “get down.” Of course, we are so alienated from our bodies in capitalist society that we only look forward to the weekend so that we may satisfy our most basic, mammalian needs: eating, sleeping, and fucking. We do not channel our subconscious desires into any kind of creative or personal work. We only really feel human when are actually the most animalistic (Ke$ha also picks up on this).

So begins the first verse. Let us read the lyrics carefully.

Seven a.m., waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal
Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’
Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends (My friends)

Note the subtle stresses on the issues of time and space, and the imperative “gotta.” The patriarchal, capitalist regime controls and dictates our spatiotemporal reality. Black must wake up on time, she must be fresh, must go downstairs, eat her mass-produced, nutrient-starved bowl of cereal. She goes through these absurd, Sisyphean tasks as “time is goin’/tickin’ on and on.”

Verse two is arguably the most famous lyrics of the song and inevitably become the rallying cry of our generation, much the same way as Dylan’s “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind” did in the 60’s and 70s. Black writes:

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

The automobile has become a symbol of the current economic crisis, with the bailouts of GM, Ford, etc. It is a symbol of capitalism. However, it is a pharmacon. The automobile promises escape, social capital, and freedom. Under capitalism, it is a cage that legislates our bodies. We are bound to our cars in order to complete the daily commute, and consequently are also bound to debt in the form leases and financing. We love cars for their expression of our individuality, but capitalism exploits this and turns our love into a pleonexic desire for the dept-laden yuppie lifestyle, thus perpetuating the patriarchy. Black will eventually subvert this in the third verse, when she is shown driving in the car with her friends. Notice, she isn’t actually sitting, she is standing in the gap between the two back seats. Moreover, at one point there isn’t even a driver. That’s some rebellious shit.

And now we arrive at the chorus:

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

The important point here is to note the hypnotic quality of the “Friday” repetitions and its grotesque quality. Black’s execution is meant to describe how the discursive regimes of power inculcate the rigid social order. Work for the patriarchy hard all week and Friday is their gift to us, so we must accept these table scraps with unadulterated glee. Be sure to go out and have “fun” on Friday. All part of “balanced lifestyle.” Fitter. Happier. More Productive… A patient better driver. A safer car…A pig in a cage on antibiotics.

I could continue, but I think the joke is getting kind of stale at this point. And I’m lazy.

cheers,

-B

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~ by braddunne on March 28, 2011.

2 Responses to “An Analysis Of Rebecca Black’s “Friday””

  1. I Almost Have No words,
    – Where do I subscribe? lol

  2. Man.You said it all.Im outta words :’)

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