Anyone who has attempted to dislodge the pesky lyrics of Rebecca Black’s hit “Friday” from their head knows the potential danger of allowing every pop-obsessed teenager to purchase their own music video. For approximately $2000 any doting parent can procure a personalized, heavily auto-tuned music video of their offspring. Unfortunately, music videos are quickly becoming the next coveted Bar-Mitzvah or Sweet Sixteen gift.
Driving the popularity of the buy-your-own video trend is Ark Music Factory. The companies’ seemingly exploding business taps into this generation of fame-hungry teens and yes-man parents. Their formula could be both pure genius and toxic poison: Start with a base of catchy lyrics, add one celebrity-obsessed teenage and an appeasing parent, throw in a rapper in sunglasses, stir in a corny story line, cover with auto-tuner and repeat.
The formula worked wonders for the Black family when in 2010 Rebecca Black’s music video, “Friday” went viral—attracting over 164,000,000 views on YouTube and reaching the top of the charts on iTunes.
Rebecca Black’s Friday with Ark Music Factory:
Ark Music Factory’s success is driven by the fact that it’s formula perfectly fills some of the needs of this generation of parents and teens. First, for young adults today, celebrity seems tangible. Tweens can stay up to date on what celebrities like Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher eat for breakfast or wear to bed. They can be Facebook friends with Demi Lovato and comment on her status updates from rehab. This makes the idea of celebrity seem real, relevant and attractive.
Second, our kids are aware that they are one YouTube video from a million people seeing them. In a matter of hours, an unknown teenager with an interesting story can garner thousands of views on YouTube. This is a lot of power and opportunity to give an 11 year-old. Instead dreaming of becoming a rock star for a few weeks, singing in front of the bathroom mirror and then deciding to be a veterinarian. Kids practice in front of their web cams, start a YouTube channel and Tumblr with their lyrics and, now, beg their parents to get them an Ark video.
Lastly, as more and more parents feel pressure for their kids to go above and beyond for college applications and to be competitive in the job market, Ark also fills a need. For a fee that is less than the cost of a college admission tutor, parents can create an ever-lasting homage to their teen. And if they are lucky enough to get a hit, make millions on music sales and sponsorship deals.
But what effect will this have on our teens? Rebecca Black’s success is only more encouraging for unknown teens who want a chance at stardom. Whether they make their own videos or hire Ark, the fame the might achieve is not only positive. Rebecca Black’s interview on Good Morning America played with the headline: “Worst Video in the World?” She has been ridiculed across the Internet for being everything from fat, to ugly to nasal. Other Ark created quasi-celebrities have achieved moderate success on the charts such as, Abby Victor, Alana Lee and Madison Bray.
Could financial success and fame possibly make-up for the barrage of negative comments directed at these underage girls? Parents cannot possibly prepare their daughters for the hurtful comments that will undoubtedly arise from their videos. Nor can parents prevent the inevitable escapeless stigma their daughters might receive in the workplace or in colleges if their video receives negative attention.
As a community, we have to encourage our daughters and friends that fame can be dangerous for teen girls and that what might seem like a fun music-video birthday gift, could create irreversible damage. In the words of Rebecca Black: “When I first saw all these nasty comments, I did cry, I felt like, this was my fault and I shouldn’t of done this, and this is all because me.” She goes on to say, of course, “Now I don’t feel that way.” But, we wonder, will she ever be able to overcome the negative comments?