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U of M expert Ed Schiappa says the success of Rebecca Black's "Friday" video is the result of a “perfect storm” of factors.

Rebecca Black YouTube phenomenon is the result of a "perfect storm," U of M pop culture expert says

March 29, 2011

Like it or not, many Americans by now have seen thirteen-year-old singer Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video on YouTube. What explains our fascination? A University of Minnesota pop culture expert who can provide insight is:

Edward Schiappa, professor, Department of Communication Studies, College of Liberal Arts

Schiappa says the success of the video is the result of a “perfect storm” of factors. “It is an example of marketing of and for tweens and early teens,” Schiappa says. “There is nothing novel going on in that regard other than the use of a free video to advertise the song via a video, which we have seen before and will continue to see.”

What makes this example interesting is that this is a video that people love to hate, Schiappa says. “To answer the ‘why’ question, invites us to ask why do people use the Internet in this particular way. Distraction? Entertainment? A way to devote energy so you aren't stressing out about what is going on in Japan and Libya?” Schiappa says, “Yes.”  

Schiappa is the department chair and teaches graduate courses on contemporary rhetorical theory, critical communication studies, rhetorical criticism and popular culture criticism. He has written a book on pop culture analysis, “Beyond Representational Correctness: Rethinking Criticism of Popular Media.”

To interview Schiappa, contact Jeff Falk at (612) 626-1720 or

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: College of Liberal Arts

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