My version of the internet, that is, my specific collection of friends and blogs, has been particularly outraged by a video called "Brooklyn Girls" by Catey Shaw. For those that don't know, "Brooklyn Girls" is one of those deeply irritating, manicured pop songs that eats its way into your brain until you are bouncing your empty head like a bobble-head toy. Its tune is designed to target the market of Katy Perry, Rebecca Black, or Carly Rae Jepsen, but is inflected with the types of folksy signifiers that inspire people like Zooey Deschanel to continue to growing their bangs. Needless to say, its a shitty song. Yet its a shitty song that, if you didn't speak any english, would undoubtedly get lost in tweenage chorus of shitty songs. So whats the deal? What inspires all this hate? Well, Lets talk a bit about the lyrics and the video.
"There’s a palace of bricks in 11206 where all the fly Brooklyn chicks reside, combat boots in the summer, subway train rollin’ under, see her on the Lower East Side. In her walk, there’s a fire, and she’s got her own style. You’ll get lost in her mystery, and tonight she owns the city."
Meanwhile the video cycles through a kaleidoscope of images and clips of Instagram-worthy Bushwick loft parties, septum-pierced alternative girls, bearded skateboarders drinking Kombucha, and lots and lots of graffiti. Heres a link, because a video is worth a billion words:
Obviously, with my liberal arts degree collecting dust in the corner of my room, I can identify a ton of issues here: Her shallow attempts to celebrate womanhood by defining "strength" through various commodities, all purchasable at your nearest Urban Outfitters, her defining an entire borough by the experience of a very specific group of middle-class white folks in North Brooklyn, her lack of understanding of Geography. But ultimately I believe that this intellectual-hate-sturbating is not the reasons why this video is viral, though there is plenty of it to go around.
Catey Shaw is selling a lifestyle in the same way that rappers, breweries, or Dove commercials might; and to the delight of TJ Maxx or Urban Outfitters, for most of the country Brooklyn might as well be what Shaw describes. Nothing is new about what Shaw is doing. The outrage seems to stem from the fact that the culture she is most aligned with hates to even be identified as a culture. It is no coincidence that the culture she is celebrating is full of the very people who are in the forefront of the vitriol. From Vice to The Gothamist to me (I lived in Bushwick and I wear Vans), the onslaught of Internet psycho-babble is, like a mutiny, coming from her very own crew.
Our next podcast is about what makes content viral. Like Rebecca Black's "Friday", Shaw might be relegated to the order of things that are just so silly that we have to keep watching. But in my estimation tonight at a bar in Williamsburg a DJ will play this song somewhat ironically, and many won't get the joke. Brooklyn Girls