Dr. James Emery WhiteJames Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
- 2011 Apr 11
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last few weeks, you know about the internet sensation surrounding Rebecca Black and her video “Friday.”
There are many angles:
*Her age (13).
*The video (her parents paid to have the song written and the video made for YouTube).
*Her singing (it…um….needs time to reach its full potential).
*The lyrics (if there is an award for the most inane in the world, it would win).
*The tune (annoyingly infectious).
*The number of hits (as of the time of this blog, 95,000,000 and climbing).
*The harsh, even cruel criticism of the online comments.
*One more example of Andy Warhol’s claim that everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame.
But I think there is something a bit more substantial to consider in this seemingly inconsequential ripple in the current of pop culture: the new democratization of media, giving anyone and everyone access to the mass market.
Rebecca Black joins such successful pop megastars as Justin Bieber (also launched with a YouTube video) and Carrie Underwood (past winner of American Idol) who have bypassed the music companies and gone straight to the masses for notoriety and success.
And it’s not just with music. Writers no longer have to work with publishers, but with Amazon and Kindle can offer their work directly to the reader. Almost anyone can develop an app and have it sold.
And the cost? Minimal, if anything. Black’s parents paid a reported $2,000 for her video/song package. Result? Nearly 100 million views. A blogger can start for virtually nothing and soon have a following exceeding a syndicated columnist. Apps can be developed with relative ease and little cost.
The positive side is self-evident. No longer does a media elite determine who gets heard, read or considered.
And the dark side?
Interestingly, the same thing. Anyone and everyone have access to the mass market.
Consider the recent e-book, “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure” pulled from Amazon – but only after a storm of protest.
Or think about the prevalence of the “bitter blog” through which the once marginalized can wage a one-person war of slander and defamation against anyone or anything they wish, in strength and impact far out of proportion to their concern’s merit.
And need I mention the explosion of pornography?
There can be little doubt that this new democratization of media holds much promise for the widespread presentation of the Christian faith to a post-Christian world. But it also holds the potential of taking this post-Christian world even further away from whatever Christian moorings it once had.
So to borrow an old saying related to this Easter season, “It’s Friday…but (let’s hope) Sunday’s a-coming.”
James Emery White
“Friday” by Rebecca Black. View online.
“Amazon.com pulls one pedophilia book -- but not all,” Los Angeles Times. Read online.
“Of Bitter Blogs” by James Emery White. Read online.
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