By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com October 09 2011 4:45 PM ET
Singers Benni Cinkle and Holly Elle are the latest musicians to tackle bullying in the schools — each doing so with videos that feature LGBT youth.
Cinkle, you might recall, was the dancing friend from Rebecca Black’s massive viral hit video, “Friday.” After that video came out last March — picking up 180 million views along the way, an adorably awkward braces-sporting Cinkle was dubbed “that girl in pink” and summarily dissed by the likes of Perez Hilton and comic Daniel Tosh as well as hundreds of anonymous online bullies.
“They said I’m ugly, I’m fat, I can’t dance, and I should just go and hide because there’s no way I would ever make it,” Cinkle later told the Orange County Register. “They saw me for four seconds. They don’t know who I am. They’re just judging me for that dance.”
So 14-year-old Crinkle has channeled her 15 minutes of fame into causes she most cared about. She started That Girl in Pink Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness, involvement, and support for causes that affect kids like cyber bullying, dating violence, depression, eating disorders, and LGBT support. It’s not a surprise for the kid who’s already written a book for kids on how to handle cyber bullying, That Girl in Pink’s Internet Survival Guide .
Crinkle has just released her own hit viral single, “Can You See Me Now?” She wrote the song after reading what other teens were divulging about their lives at sixbillionsecrets.com and recorded it with music producers who’ve worked with Christina Aguilera and Rihanna. Now all proceeds go to three teen charities: The Trevor Project, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), and GLSEN.
Another young musician released an even more diverse anti-bullying video earlier this year: Holly Elle’s “Freak” offers a decidedly more grown up flavor but features a fascinating and provocative mix of LGBT kids and others who are marginalized like a little persons, an amputee, a fat chick. Already a small viral hit, “Freak” was penned in response to the increase in bully-related suicides throughout the country — and aimed at increasing awareness of the epidemic.
“Bullying is something we’ve all had experience with,” says Elle, who wrote the song with Canadian singer-songwriter Freddy Litwiniuk “Bullying is something we’ve all had experiences with. Whether we were the victim, the perpetrator, or a witness, we can all relate and it strikes a chord. This video is for anyone who has ever felt different, so that they may see that being different is beautiful.”
A classically trained Canadian crooner, Elle has one solo album and two group CDs under her belt and a fast-growing LGBT fan base. But, she wants everyone to think of her, too, as just one of the freaks. She points to her own lyrics: “As the song says, ‘It really don't matter if a girl do a boy do a boy do a boy do a girl do a girl do a boy.’ The whole point of the song is to say that sexual preference doesn't matter, and it feels contrary to the message to turn around and say here’s my preference! So the answer is I don't say. I'm not interested in labels.”