In June of last year, Twitter user @s_jobs6 mused, “There are few things to celebrate in this world but the fact that Rebecca Black is now a gay icon is definitely one of them.” And they weren’t wrong. Black’s unusual career arc — from viral punchline to genuine artist — is absolutely something worth celebrating.
In 2011, Black was a middle schooler in suburban Los Angeles when she released a song called “Friday” via an outfit called Ark Music Factory. Ark was sort of a pay-to-play record label, where producer and rapper Patrice Wilson would help aspiring young musicians write a pop song and make a (low-budget) video in exchange for money.
“I found it through a friend of mine at school and I was like, ‘Oh, this looks interesting,'” she tells Tom Power in an interview on Q. “And my parents, my mom really, thought it was worthwhile to do for some reason.”
The resulting video, much to Black’s surprise, went viral — and not in a good way. In retrospect, the response to “Friday” seems like an absolutely unhinged orgy of online cruelty. Adults — including some prominent comedians — spent weeks mercilessly dunking on a child, turning Black and Friday into a widespread subject of mockery.
Black acknowledges that, at the time, the criticism felt shattering.
“When you’re a 13-year-old, it’s impossible to process,” she says. “You’ve grown up for 13 years knowing that adults know more than you, knowing to look to adults for advice, knowing to look for validation elsewhere as you learn how to operate in the world. Every piece of feedback that I got, I took as