Yesterday, when I was listening to Shabazz Palaces’ rather remarkable new album on Spotify, my enjoyment of Ishamel Butler’s spaced out hip-hop was interrupted by a commercial for a song by someone with the unlikely name of Victoria Justice. That song was called “My Best Friend’s Brother” and I alluded to it in my review of Black Up knowing full well that it was going to end up here eventually. Because without a doubt, “My Best Friend’s Brother” is one of the worst songs I have ever heard. I don’t know who Victoria Justice is, but I do know that she needs to be stopped.
And yes, I’m well aware that this music isn’t being made for people like me (that is, people who have any kind of discerning taste whatsoever), but Spotify clearly isn’t aware of that fact because they fucking advertised this piece of shit right into my earholes when I was trying to listen to some groovy, laid back hip-hop. So if this makes your tween-ager weep, blame Spotify. And then stop letting your fucking kids read Bollocks!.
“My Best Friend’s Brother” starts off with the kind of produced-until-lifeless synth and guitar riffs (over programmed drums, no less) that have backed every teenage pop track since Britney first demanded that you hit her, baby, one more time. It’s a formula that has been vile since its inception but it’s hardly the most stupefying thing about this particular song.
The thing I find the most baffling about “My Best Friend’s Brother” is its central premise. I just don’t see what’s so taboo about having the hots for your best friend’s sibling. If Ms. Justice was jonesing for her best friend’s boyfriend (or girlfriend maybe), I could see a conflict. But it’s not like Justice’s best friend is fucking her own brother, so what’s the problem? Is the brother in question a notorious brute who likes to beat the shit out of women (the song says he’s a “punk rock drummer” but I’m guessing Victoria Justice and I disagree vehemently about who is and who is not a punk rock drummer)? The song never bothers to say why exactly Justice’s best friend would object to the relationship, which makes Justice’s love seem about as forbidden as brushing your teeth.
And of course, the video has a stupid fucking dance that goes along with the chorus and said dance actually features a part where Justice motions for the hearer of her dirty little secret to keep mum about it in front of her best friend! So if you watch the video, you will see Victoria Justice attempting to be coy, in a completely Disney-fied way, about something that really doesn’t need to be a secret to begin with and then punching a truck-sized hole (with a dance!) in her own secret plot.
I get that a lot of this teenage Disney shit (I know, because the internet just told me, that “My Best Friend’s Brother” is from something called Victorious, which is a Nickelodeon show, but you get what I mean here) is fundamentally retarded but before you suggest that it shouldn’t matter to me as a functional, devilishly handsome adult with diverse interests and tastes, let me tell you why it should matter to all of us. The underlying message of the success of your Miley Cyruses (who is herself no stranger to our Worst Songs feature), Hillary Duffs, and Victoria Justices is that our kids are fucking stupid. At this juncture, it’s pointless to debate whether they were fucking stupid from the outset or if it is in fact a culture that allows not only Miley Cyrus but her bemulleted scumbag of a father to be (ahem) successful (ahem ahem) musicians that has made them (and perhaps all of us) fucking stupid. Many of us (well, many of you, parents) accept as an immutable fact the idea that our kids will like low-quality dreck when it comes to music (and movies and television) and that it’s just dandy to allow them to consume this shit so long as they keep their mouths shut and bring home a fridge-worthy homework assignment once in a while. But let me ask you this: would you let your kid consume cheeseburgers or Chocodiles with the same degree of passivity? I mean, clearly some of you would because we have an obesity epidemic in this country. But surely most of you (I’d like to think only good parents read Bollocks!. I happen to know a few awesome ones who do) would not allow your kid to consume terrible food the same way they consume culture that is absolutely designed to keep them tugging your pant leg for newest cutesy bullshit to be burned to disc. So I have to ask: why don’t we care about our kids’ cultural consumption as much as we do about their caloric consumption?
It seems to me that we’re only fighting half the battle if we’re working so hard to get our kids to exercise and eat right and then allowing them to poison their brains with shit like “My Best Friend’s Brother.” What good is a healthy body if it houses a mind turned to sludge by auto-tuned, assembly-line music that’s created to get you to tune into (and buy the shitty trademarked merchandise of) vapid, thoughtless television shows? And if you think your kid is somehow incapable of “getting” better music than can be found on Victorious or Hanna fucking Montana, then you’re implying that you agree with Disney and Nickelodeon and Mattel and most major record labels that your kid is fucking stupid. But hey; maybe your kid is fucking stupid. I don’t know. But it seems like exposing them to stuff like “My Best Friend’s Brother” is only gonna make it worse.
And yes, of course, this is ‘Merica and we have a constitutional right to be completely fucking stupid but if you find yourself using that defense for our most inexcusable cultural excesses, I don’t know that you’ve got anything worth defending. We’ve spent the last two hundred years finding better, faster ways to become physically, emotionally, and intellectually unhealthy and it hasn’t exactly borne us any useful fruit. For those of you who want a better future for your kids, why not start by making sure that your kids are just as culturally fit as they are physically fit? Why not create higher demand for intelligent, artful children’s culture (it exists, you know. Read a Shel Silverstein book) instead of relying on cable networks to pump our kids full of brain-dead crap like “My Best Friend’s Brother”? We can do this, America. We’re like the 23rd or 24th best country in the world and we can do anything if we put our minds to it!