I find Pharrell's massive hit "Happy" really, really irritating. And, for that reason, I love it. In the same way that The Sex Pistols were Malcolm McLaren's massive joke on us, this song is, I think, Pharrell's attempt to pull a fast one on the economy of viral "upworthiness"–an economy that, as David has shown, is really racist.
So, before I get into "Happy," let me first explain what I mean by the "viral economy of upworthiness." To be really simplistic, what I mean by the term is this: the rhizomatic, exponential spread of positive affect ("upworthiness") across social media, which uses fan labor (ie., the labor of sharing and spreading) to generate profits for media corporations (both the social media corporations, like YouTube, and the record companies, who profit from each play/click.) In a way, the viral economy of upworthiness is a lot like finance capital–instead of algorithmically intensifying money, this economy algorithmically intensifies positive feelings and/or affects. For example, as David argues, Upworthy videos "zoom in on heroic moments that are emotionally powerful"; Upworthy banks on the viral spread of these good feelings. The viral economy of upworthiness spreads positive affect like a disease, because the business model only works when happiness spreads like cancer. Social media business models require users to share things (that's how we make ‘connections' that generate the oh-so-valuable "data" sold to third parties), and apparently positive affects like happiness are more shareable than negative ones (there's still no "dislike" button on Facebook, right?). What David's article brilliantly points out is that this organization of the means of production is also a racialized and imperialist one, one in which non-white, non-Western people do the groundwork for this economy of viral upworthiness. Capitalism says there can be no majority for the pity (Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid--who knew KMFDM basically predicted social media capitalism?), so to speak, so it outsources the work of transforming tragedy or bad feeling into happiness or upworthiness onto the same groups of people who have historically done the white/Western world's un/undercompensated dirty work.