This October, a social media contractor at my advertising agency was charged with making a viral video to acquire more Twitter followers for one of our clients. (For the record, that is the most 21st-century sentence I have ever written.) She decided to go the parody route and wrote a rap about the newly released Windows Phone, but was too shy to actually perform it, so she approached me and asked if I would record the video. “I think you’re the only person who could keep a straight face for this,” she pleaded. I said sure.
A week ago, I was walking into my office in downtown Seattle when I felt my cell phone vibrate. The text preview screen informed me it was from an unknown number and said something about Windows Phone 7. I figured it was work-related, so I slipped my phone back into my pocket, message unread, and went inside.
At my desk, I started to get to work when a message from a friend at another agency popped up.
Nick: how is it going
me: It’s fine. I’m bored.
Nick: Just fine? I was reading a blog that I check out every day and came across this article. Do you know the article I am talking about? It is on Gizmodo.
What? I was puzzled, both by the serial killer way Nick was typing, and also because I had no idea what he was talking about. Then it dawned on me. I grabbed my phone to pull up the text I had received a few minutes earlier. The unknown number turned out to be a public relations guy I had gone out on one date with, months ago, and then promptly forgotten. “Haha,” I thought smugly. “I must have really left an impression.”
Then I actually read the text.
“Hey there, it’s Chris – have you been rapping in any windows phone 7 videos lately?”
How did he find that?! I responded in my typical eloquent fashion: “AHHHHAHA”
Chris followed up immediately: “A gizmodo post and viral video may be circulating our office at the moment.”
Internet drama! I rushed back to Gchat and asked Nick to link me to whatever the hell he was talking about.
Nick: Be prepared. Don’t die.
I took Nick’s advice and did not die. Instead, I clicked on his link to the Gizmodo start page. I was shocked and delighted to behold a giant freeze-frame of my face. I then noticed the sobering headline:“White Girls Rapping About Windows Phone 7 is Worse Than Your Parents Having Sex.”
A Quick Behind the Music: back when I was an attention-hungry teenager, I quickly learned that people were very easily entertained by my antics. Flossing my freestyle became my gimmick in the high school cafeteria, later my go-to party trick in college. I never thought I was amazing, but I also knew that bad/funny/unexpected can often trump real talent.
I’m not rapping as much as I used to; the dog days are over. Or so I thought. Back to the little video filmed at my agency — I performed it, my coworker Tweeted it, we mostly forgot about the whole ordeal. Until that fateful day last week when some random Twitter user submitted the video to Gizmodo. I received a barrage of amused emails and texts before I could even finish reading the article. This small sample selection of reactions is an accurate representation:
“Ummmm looks like you're famous. Can't believe I have friends emailing me about you.”
“Teachout — your video is on break.com you are famous!!! Nice rap, miss when you use to rap for us”
“ i knew those raps in jr high were prepping you for something big.”
“please tell me this isn’t you.”
“You are an internet sensation. I enjoyed the feedback comments from your viewers!”
That last one was from my dad. DAD! DAAAAD. It’s comforting to know my father is aware of the fact that everyone on the internet thinks I have stripper boobs. Sorry, family!
Yes, stripper boobs. What? I don't know. My friends and family may love me, but the internet hates me. It wants to appraise my body, and then wants me to "die in a fire." As many a commenter has delighted in pointing out, my rapping is worse than Rebecca Black’s singing.
“I think this is the worst thing on the Internet, and I've watched videos from both Courtney Stodden AND Vanessa Black, plus I've survived 4Chan.” – I assume Vanessa Black = Rebecca Black, unless…?
“Until she opened her mouth I thought she was attractive....I didn't think I could lose interest that fast.” Rude, but I’m pretty sure many guys I’ve dated share this sentiment.
It’s surreal to think that over 140,000 people have seen me rap, and they all have drawn a collective conclusion about what kind of person I am: a dumb, annoying, slutty white person. The horror!
There are only three things that honestly bother me:
1. The weird level of misogyny.
“Shut up and show us your boobs already.”
“holy shit! STFU!!! Make me a sandwich, show me your tits, and again, just STFU!!!”
“This is what happens when you trap 4 strippers in a room and pay them NOT to take off their clothes.”
Apparently, an accepted default insult is to call girls strippers. You can also say a lot of detailed things about their bodies and what you would like to do to them in lieu of any relevant criticism.
2. The fact that many outraged commenters on these sites actually seem to think that we were serious. That’s like being angry about the SNL Laser Cats sketch because you think it was a real TV pilot. (Not that I would be so deludedly generous as to compare this flash-in-the-pan video to the eternal hilarity that is Laser Cats.) Give me a break. It was bad on purpose, trust. I do not think this is real hip hop, a real song, anything. Give me some credit here.
3. When people say that we “killed rap” and are “proof that white people can ruin everything” … NO! This is the knife that cuts the deepest. I love and respect rap. Just look at my Facebook; under “most influential figures” in my info, Nicki Minaj is ranked #1! True devotion. I understand that I am a middle class white girl from Washington, not a whole lot of street cred, but please, internet, I beg of you, do not undermine my passion for this music!
Everything else is entertaining and nothing more. The top comment on Break.com:
“CAN SOMEONE PLEASE SLAP THAT FAT A55 FOR TRYING TO "GANGSTA". WHAT A DISGRACE TO THE WHITE NATION”
That is too dumb/confusing to be taken as an actual insult. I mean, I’m offended as a human by the “white nation” shout out, but not the “FAT A55” barb.
The question on everyone’s minds, of course, is this: WHAT is she going to do now?! Well, my initial plan was to collaborate with the woman I have been compared most to, the one and only R-Black. We can embark on a joint tour called “Haters Gonna Hate,” where we just perform various remixes of “Friday” and “Windows Phone 7.” I will move to LA to “really start my rap career,” try to make one album with that same guy who wrote that stupid single that Paris Hilton and Haylie Duff fought over in 2004, but of course when the record drops it will be a complete failure. Then I will record a sex tape and “leak” it to TMZ, gaining a brief window of exposure, but quickly fading back into obscurity. I will then get impregnated by an E! Network PA I meet at a club one night, and after I give birth to little Jaynezn, I will get a spread in Star magazine about how “Motherhood has changed me!” and then I will release a vanilla-heavy fragrance (available exclusively at Macy’s) and perhaps a line of flowy mom-blouses at Kohl’s.
Alternately, if that plan fails, I guess my entourage and I will just do what one insightful Gizmodo commenter prophesized:
“When they become middle-aged suburban mothers, they're totally gonna reminisce about this at their monthly margarita night. 'OMG, you guys. We were so crazy back then.'“
OMG, you guys. So crazy.