Giving David the “Edge” He Needs

ruinedcopyCelebrity is a tricky thing, and certain images can make or break a star.  The wholesome Olympic hero image of Michael Phelps, for example, might take a hit when he’s caught smoking pot, but the bad boy image of an Eminem or a Kid Rock would not take the same hit if caught doing similar acts.  It’s all about the public image, and I think the initial panic many of us immediately felt when the story of Jeff Archuleta’s arrest in a prostitution ring made news was that such a sleazy story would tarnish David’s image.  Surely, most of us felt, this would have a negative impact on his undeniably wholesome image and “squeaky clean” goodness.

Having combed through many different conversations online and various news reports, I can now breathe a sigh of relief and say this has not happened at all.  In fact, we could even argue that, thanks to the “bad boy” image David’s father already received during American Idol with the “Stage Dad from Hell” stories that made tabloid headlines, most are treating this latest scandal as yet another cross that David must bear as the good son of an obviously Problem Dad.  Ain’t that something? There is actually something in the world of celebrity called a “problem parent.”  

The worst I’ve seen with regards to this story are those inevitable speculations in which some would question David’s goodness as some kind of “cover up” or “psychological disorder,” for surely, the thinking goes, there is something not quite right with a sunny disposition and an ever present smile if one has to grow up under the rule of such a flawed individual as Jeff Archuleta.  Regardless of the rumors or the police reports or whether or not one wants to make excuses or dismiss Jeff’s guilt in this sordid story, what is definitely emerging – with regards to a public image and reputation – is an image of an angelic son and a misbehaving dad.  And in this kind of storyline, David is bound to be the sympathetic character, the long suffering martyr who must bear this millstone around his neck, the heroic artist whose “bane to his existence” that is his father provides useful material to feed his art.  Or, in the crass words of the anti-Idol site, Vote for the Worst, Jeff is “the gift that keeps on giving.”

Prior to the days of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, such scandals might indeed tarnish the wholesome image of someone like David.  But, we are definitely living in a new era when people expect there to be something wrong with a public figure if the image seems too perfect.  David Archuleta, as a cleancut, nice, genuine, sincere, polite, and sweet boy was just too much for some folks.  Remember when David appeared at the Z100 station for the world premiere of “Crush” and one of the female DJs complained that he was too “squeaky clean” and needed him to be “sullied”?  Well, for every fan like myself and others who love David just the way he is, there are those who can’t take this image at face value.  They need that image to be “sullied.”  I cannot count the number of times when I read someone complaining that David is “too Disney” or “too clean” or “too innocent” or “too young.”  I cannot count the number of times one of my peers wouldn’t give one of David’s more angsty tunes the time of day because, so the thinking went, what could an 18 year-old who looks like he’s 12 possibly tell them about life?    

Obviously, this wholesome image was so dominant in the public view that even his label and management started a marketing campaign to sell him to the “tweens” since it was imagined this was the only market that would ever take David seriously, completely dismissing all the angst and the soul and the melancholy that could be heard in The Voice.  One of the most dismissive comments I’ve read from a non-fan said something to the effect of how David was “as edgy as a circle.”  Translation: without an “edge” David didn’t have what it takes to be a genuine pop star.

What can I say?  If Jeff really is “the gift that keeps on giving,” then, finally, FINALLY, he has given David the “edginess” he needs to move from Disneyfication to the hard core reality of flawed humanity and family dysfunctions.  Or, what I’d like to suggest is, perhaps this scandal is enough to catapult David into adulthood and maturity where his music and his persona can finally be taken seriously.  After all, who would hear David singing “Desperate” and dare say – in the wake of this scandal – that they can’t imagine David knowing anything about what those lyrics mean?  

Indeed, if I were Jive right now, I’d be releasing that song for dramatic arc to this media buzz and rake in the moolah (what a concept – promoting a track from David’s album as a single – GASP!).  Or, if this song is much edgier than what we’re used to getting from David, “Somebody Out There” would certainly have the same effect. (Rascal’s video featured here)

At the very least, apart from showcasing David’s stunning vocals and musicality, we would have endless debates that would arise as various publics questioned the “hidden meanings” in the lyrics.  Better yet, with the grace and class David exhibits in which he manages to maintain a healthy distance and a comfortable closeness with his fans while coyly keeping up the mystique around his very private life, we will only ever have the projected image of a good and sincere young man immersed in his music and his willingness to share this love with the rest of us.  Anyone who knows their theology knows that Christ shines more brightly precisely because he’s struggled against and triumphed against the Devil.  Just reading through the gossip and the news, it’s obvious that the darker his surroundings, the brighter David’s light shines.  

I would even say, with the perception of Jeff’s bad behavior, if David ever falters, he actually has permission to do so now, but there is also an expectation and acceptance that David is who he is because he chooses to be.  The worse Jeff behaves, the better David looks.  If it weren’t such a personal tragedy in the life of David’s family, I would even say it would make great comedy, a la Absolutely Fabulous, with its immature and misbehaving parent and responsible child.  Mostly, David gets to be “edgy” without himself having to engage in unseemly behavior, especially if he’s got a dad who will do all the misbehaving for him.  

All this is to say: I’m no longer worrying about the impact of this scandal on David since it appears he will come out unscathed.  How he and his family wish to deal with it is definitely their business, but as far as public image goes, this may end up giving David the edge and maturity he needs to now have his status as a celebrity secured and his music taken seriously.

Posted on June 20, 2009, in family, public image. Bookmark the permalink. 102 Comments.

  1. Sorry – didn’t mean to tell you what to write about. I just meant – I would welcome discussion about those points.

  2. Marlie, I can only speak for myself, but maybe not all of us want to discuss your concerns because they have been discussed over and over already? This is the one place we can talk about our legitimate concerns about the people around David and how they are affecting his career. Its as simple as that. The whole rest of the world is saying whatever they want to say (including, unfortunately, Jimmy Kimmel). Why can’t we? Its surprising and telling that there has been more discussion of a variety of points of view shared on the Deseret Times site (a paper, by the way, owned by the Mormon church), than on David’s fan sites. The silence is deafening.

  3. LittleM: Exactly the point the fan sites are making. There is plenty of mudraking in the newspaper comments. Okay, so my dissenting viewpoint isn’t welcome. I got it.

  4. Marlie7, I think your question #2 will be answered tonight.

    If Jeff will be in Del Mar — game over.

  5. Marlie, I believe in freedom of speech. I feel you have the right to share your opinion! But you can’t get upset if people here aren’t interested in rehashing these arguments again…..just my opinion…

    Peter – what do you mean, game over? 😦

  6. Peter: Thank you for addressing the point. I agree with you – if Jeff is in Del Mar, I’ll join the petition and stand with the fans on getting rid of Jeff. In the meantime, let’s see what David does on his own.

  7. hell0g0rge0us

    Glad you’re not telling me what to write about because I’m certainly not in the mood to comment on any of these points. If I misconstrued what you were saying, I apologize, but yes, I got defensive because you told me that my encouraging this discussion “sucks.” Can’t help but take it personally.

    Anyway, let’s agree to disagree on this subject since I really am not interested in getting into a verbal fight with you here. I posted my thoughts, even suggested there might be a way to see something positive, and you can agree or disagree.

    Even that failure of a joke that is that Stage Dad skit on Jimmy Kimmel’s show does indicate that, for better or worse, David has “made” it in the world of celebrity if a late night comedian thinks he and his drama are worth a comedy skit. Again, we can agree to disagree on this subject too.

    The bottom line for me is that, even if this is not about David’s music, this concerns David, and just on that basis alone, I can address these issues on my blog. Again, Marlie, here you are making statements about how I’m being “disrespectful” by encouraging this discussion or how “this doesn’t seem like it is about his music,” as if to say that somehow my veering off the very topic that my blog is supposed to be about is some kind of problem. Isn’t such a position basically attempting to tell me what I can or cannot post on my own blog, or which comments I should allow? This may be a problem for YOU, but it’s not for ME.

  8. This is the only fan site right now where people are allowed to discuss the Jeff Archuleta incident. It’s good to remember that we are dealing with a police report, not rumors.

    I’m not interested in anybody’s family life, but I’m very interested in David’s career. Unfortunately, this is a career issue now, not only a family issue.

  9. LittleM: I’m not upset if people aren’t interested. I’m only concerned that my point of view was summarily rejected as me telling people to stop. Talk about something else, don’t engage in this discussion if it doesn’t interest you.

    I won’t engage with only myself. Although, sometimes I’ve been known to talk to myself. 🙂

  10. My last comment. I did say I think it is disrespectful – and I do. You have every right to say, “I don’t, and here’s why”. That is debate.

  11. Marlie – haha no worries, me too 😉

  12. hell0g0rge0us

    Peter, is that true? If my site is really the only fan site allowing this discussion, then all the more reason to be wary of others telling me that this discussion shouldn’t be happening at all.

    Look, Marlie, I cannot help but get defensive about the points you’re making (at least you’re trying to be polite about it) when I have already had to filter comments from other folks calling me a “bitch” for daring to break the silence.

    If you’re looking for some kind of “fan solidarity” on my part, I’m not interested, nor will I make some kind of elaborate argument for why I should continue this discussion.

    That should be obvious, considering the number of different fans here who are trying to express their concerns – whether that includes being concerned about how David is handling it to wondering if they should speak out against Jeff’s involvement in his career, be it through petition or emails or showing up at Del Mar and giving Jeff a piece of their mind (if he shows himself publicly) or what have you.

    Okay, I’m done defending why this discussion should happen on my blog. We’re here. We’re having it. Carry on, peeps! 🙂

  13. LittleM, nothing dramatic. I just meant that if Jeff will be there, it means that he continues to be part of David’s management team and that he continues to make life difficult for David as a hard-working music professional. I hope Jive or Azoff can somehow order him to step aside.

  14. Just to be clear – I would never even think of you as a “bitch” for stating your position. I hope you wouldn’t think of me that way for stating mine. Truce, lady – it’s your blog, after all. 🙂 And I do hope I’ve been polite – that was my intention.

    Thanks for letting me make my case in the first place. Back to my mechanical room at the back of TDC to fix pictures, youtube links that don’t work and prepare to upload videos from Kizzi tonight.

  15. hell0g0rge0us

    Nope, not thinking of you that way at all nor did I find you anything but polite. But, if I came off as hard-hitting or defensive, just letting you know my back is up is all.

    Obviously, we’re all trying to figure out the best way to deal with the repercussions of this scandal. Some in the fan base have really been thrown off guard.

  16. Irving Azoff is the head of David’s management firm. Jared Paul is his manager. I would think individual letters to either of these people would be the way to go

    Honestly though, if Jeff is seen in Del Mar, I may have to step away and just listen to the music. It’s too frustrating to witness his behavior and be powerless to change anything.

    Anyone think the Jeff incident is in any way related to Alex and Eli leaving the band? Maybe they tried to talk to David? I will admit this is pure speculation, but I can’t help but wonder what happened to these guys, and the timing is strange

    • LitteM, That occurred to me too about Alex and Eli…FOD was supposed to do a chat with Mike, and I thought we may find some information about their hasty departure, but the chat doesn’t seem to be taking place anymore, which is not surprising in light of the scandal.

  17. I initially thought you raised some thoughtful, interesting points in your posts, HG, but after reading through this thread and the last one and watching Brooklyndawn, Awestruck and now Marlie7 get attacked for trying to be the voices of reason and offer an alternative view, I’m outta here.

  18. hell0g0rge0us

    I don’t remember Brooklyndawn or Awestruck getting “attacked” for their positions on the previous thread – did Marlie and I have a “tete a tete”? Yes.
    But if this kind of back-and-forth is too much for you or anyone else, then it’s fine if you want to stay away. I personally don’t think anyone here sounds like we don’t have a “voice of reason.” But, whatever…

  19. TOfan, I’m getting tired of this. The point of these threads is to discuss the Jeff Archuleta incident.

    If you don’t want to discuss it, then don’t. What are you doing here? There are several websites where you can keep silent about the incident. And “attacked”? If you want to see attacks, go to one of the many fan sites that are not talking about this issue.

    We all have our opinions on who or what is the “voice of reason.”

    And someone called HG a “bitch” because of these discussions? Well, talk about “respectful” silence…

    This denial is getting absurd.

  20. Not “seeing” Jeff (near the stage or even in the audience) at Del Mar means nothing. He could still be in a management role and just staying out of sight. In the past David has said his Dad would always be part of his team. So, I’m inclined to think the decision regarding Jeff has already been made – considering the family dynamic versus/or combined with the professional management outlook. But, then again, that was before everything hit the news. The actual incident reportedly took place in January, and David is not naive. I just hope David’s career is not hurt with whatever subsequent decisions are made. I think it would be in David’s best interest if his Dad definitely steps aside. Fan concerns and recommendations submitted to Azoff and company are important as David moves forward. It could mean a big turning – and learning point for Daivd.

  21. This is a link to the “Live from Rehearsal” vlog that was posted yesterday. Note the man wearing the ball cap, to the left of David at 1:54-1:55.

  22. I hope that’s not Jeff. Doesn’t he have a life?

    I don’t know what to think about the stage dad rumors now, but I thought they were unfair during American Idol. It was actually a good idea for Jeff to travel everywhere with David to refute the rumors.

    He may be doing that again, only this time he is trying to refute a police report and his own statements to the police.

    All this at the expense of David’s career. Plus it’s unbelievably awkward for the band and other members of the tour crew.

  23. HG, about the comments of people calling you a b*tch. What is the feminist saying: Well-behaved women rarely make history. 😉

  24. Peter: Welcome to you as well.

    I would like to add my 2 cents worth about the fallout from this incident.

    First of all I think that David’s fansites could have offset some of the damage done by at least posting a public yet tastefully done show of support for David. By remaining silent, many people came to the conclusion, right or wrong, that perhaps it was payback for Jeff’s willingness to leak information about upcoming projects or to arrange access to David. A week ago, we were all – myself included – clamoring for Jeff to get a video of David performing PFTC. He did and he was a hero until this week.

    Secondly I also agree that Jeff should step out of the public eye but not necessarily step down as David’s manager. I say this because none of us are in a position to know Jive/Azoff and especially David’s views on the matter until we see some action on their/his part. We do not and should not know about his personal relationship with his father and I am sure TPTB will take all this into consideration before rendering their verdict.

    Thirdly, what if David does decide that it is in his best interest to keep his dad on board, will we be disappointed to the extent of showing less support for any current (Christmas Album) and future ventures?

    Fourth, will the non-fans become further alienated and write David off if he does not fire Jeff? Will it spur them to give him and his music a chance if he does?

    I think a lot of forethought has to go into this decision if any is to be made at all. A petition campaign might send a message to his management about our displeasure but at the end of the day it is not our decision to make. As distasteful as this incident is, we should not rush so quickly to judgement about the next step in David’s management. It is ultimately a private and personal decision. Can we live with the outcome?

  25. Peter I agree that it must be unbelievably awkward for the band. The old menbers maybe not as much but what an introduction for the new members.

  26. Thank you, Joymus.

    If Jeff does not step aside, the verdict may simply be: no record deal.

  27. Oh, and that vlog is funny. Very David.

  28. Will be very interesting to see if Jeff is there as usual tonight.

  29. 1) isn’t that a shame?
    2) you’re probably right
    3) unfortunately this whole situation has put a damp on the christmas album. I believe without the right damage control there’ll be less support from fans and non-fans.
    4) Yes and yes.
    Your last question is the reason why we’re debating here. I fear for the fanbase. It’s self-destructing as we spéak. Maybe a new one will rise from the ashes, though, but never one that loves David as we all do, which could be good in the end.

  30. Oops! My comment above is about Joymus’s longer post.

  31. Remember when David met with the LDS President on March 27, 2009? Here is a link to the article.

    This sentence has me wondering if this issue was dealt with at that time. “Jeff and Lupe Marie Archuleta, were visiting another office in the Church Administration Building when the invitation was extended to visit with President Monson. “

  32. Freo, thanks the reminder about “well-behaved women” and the “bitches” who rocked history! 😀

    I personally would not support David any less if he chooses to keep Jeff on. But, as long as he’s aware how such a decision could hurt his public image. After that little Jimmy Kimmel skit, it’s safe to say: if the headline tomorrow read, “David Archuleta Dumps Dad from Management,” how much do you want to bet there would be a huge spike in his sales?

    Not that David ever cared for such things, but the response would really be overwhelmingly in support of him.

    Right or wrong, Jeff’s reputation is completely shot, and David will have to bear that “albatross” around his neck, but of course he does have a way out. Anyone else catch that albatross reference in the vlog?

  33. Yes, I picked up the “albatross” reference immediately & posted about it above at 9:38:

    My post above:

    Really strange….notice in this video of behind the scenes prep for his first concert David is asked what his favorite bird is and he thinks quite a while and finally says “albatross”. Alternate meaning is: • a source of frustration or guilt; an encumbrance

    I’m probably reading too much into this……..maybe not though…..

  34. I forgot you already mentioned this, Burkey. Could mean something, could not. David is becoming such a mystery for someone so seemingly open and straight forward. I also thought it interesting it took him so long to come up with a “favorite bird.”

  35. Yes, he is a mystery for sure. That is part of what makes him so intriguing for me (of course, along with that VOICE)

    I often wondered about the song Somebody Out There that he co-wrote. I saw it mentioned somewhere that at one of his last concerts they thought he sang this to his mother.

    Oh dear, it is so devastating for him especially to have this terrible thing happen. It will be a lifelong burr.

  36. I believe some people will view David as more “edgy” and more experienced in life as a result of this incident. However, I think his career will really take off once he learns more about the industry, knows where he wants to go with his music, and is able to articulate what he wants and expects from those who report to him (e.g. his management).

    Like Valbraz, I believe Joymus (9:33pm) is prob. right w/the 2nd point.

    From Joymus 9:33 pm: “…will we be disappointed to the extent of showing less support for any current (Christmas Album) and future ventures?”
    I became disappointed as soon as Jeff announced he was co-producer. David is a prodigy w/top notch vocals, a sold out solo tour and a gold album. Is he working w/a producer who has actually produced an album before? Have his songwriter(s) and music arranger(s) ever had hits? Regardless, I will buy the album.

    Which leads me to the issue of the band. I liked all the previous band members and thought they sounded great live. However, I’m glad David’s management took the opportunity to to surround David with more experienced musicians.

  37. raelvoingangels

    Little M: I also have noticed the changes at Snarkeys…Amy fell off the map and not as edgy…It may be just a time factor…I mean then have dedicated over a year day and night to the site- but yep, I agree “Everything seemed to change after their interview with David…”

    I do agree that Jeff should step down, but I will leave that to their team to determine. I would not feel comfortable with any public request of that nature.
    In the scheme of crimes, this was very very minor. It was a breach of trust for the family, which is why business and family do not often mix well.
    It was a non-arrest case, no contest plea ( in abeyance- where you don’t even go to court) which results in a dismissal…

  38. hell0g0rge0us

    Desertrat, do you think Jeff is really co-producer of the Xmas album or is it that he just thinks he’ll have that kind of control? I can’t help how judgmental of him I’ve become in light of the scandal, but all of a sudden I feel I should take anything he’s reported with a grain of salt. After all, when it comes to record labels, this isn’t exactly something they would just hand over to an amateur, no matter how pushy said amateur happens to be.

    Still not ruling out that some higher up leaked this news to the press.

  39. I have been reading all the blogs, going from one fan site to another – looking, hoping and praying for that little glimmer of sunlight that will come out of this mess.,I feel like I am swimming under water for this past week. I have to stop this because I’m afraid my heart can’t take it anymore.
    If you have some good news, can you just email me? I would be most grateful.
    Thank you guys!

  40. hell0g0rge0us

    Well, it looks like David is performing in Del Mar tonight, and that’s always good, isn’t it? 🙂 Hope we get some good videos!

  41. HG, 1:05 am – it never occurred to me that the newspaper article may have misquoted Jeff or the comment may have been an overstatement. Perhaps he’s not co-producer.

    Mslv – heres some good news:
    1) Several tweeters spotted David’s sisters backstage at the concert tonite. Bet they had fun!

    2) 6 days ago, a girl sent the tweet below to David. Her father is Max Gousse, the Sr. Vice-President A&R at Island/Def Jam Music Group.
    She put a pic of herself & a friend w/David on her myspace page:

    TWEET: “hey david! it was great meeting you yesterday, and the day b4! hope you liked the cupcakes! tweet me back!:D btw its asia!”

  42. Brooklynldawn

    First of all let me say I wasn’t nor did I feel attacked when I published my thoughts yesterday. I didn’t feel I said anything controversial enough to be attacked either, lol. I also think that we should be talking about it, it’s just that some of the talk is alarming!

    A petition? C’mom people seriously? Maybe we should just storm the castle and remove David forcefully? Or the “if Jeff is at Del Mar, all bets are off!” Well then let the door hit ya, where the good lord split ya! That would certainly infer to me that it’s not about the music at all. I say we let the young man, who we say we trust and admire handle his business as he sees fit. Period.

    If I were the Snarkies, I would simply have posted a very nice blog about the incident. State whatever their impression is, and then move on to doing what they do best. It’s almost as if they are taking Jeff’s sins upon themselves. They’ve done nothing wrong. I feel sorry for them. FOD is another story entirely, but my gripes about them go so far beyond any Jeff impropriety.

    As for David and edge, I am not so sure. I need to monitor the situation. I don’t want David to become uber famous for having a screwed up father. I don’t want him to be tabloid fodder. If that is edge, then keep it. I think if people have really been paying attention there is so much to David, so much depth, they just haven’t been looking in the right direction. Maybe listening to some of the music from this blog might steer them in the right direction. If last nights Kimmel where any indication, they don’t think David has his oars in the water so this edge will have to be developed by something David does. I remember an old testament passage that says, let it no longer be said the the father has eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge. I hope that will be the case with David. Sins of the father? I hope not.

  43. Really good points, Brooklyndawn. And, yes, the talk has been alarming, but I’m just glad we had the conversation. Although, I must say: please don’t encourage people with comments like this:

    “Maybe we should just storm the castle and remove David forcefully?”

    Don’t forget who you’re talking to: a fan community calling themselves “Arch Angels.” 😀

  44. One more thing though. Brooklyndawn, I’m not advocating that David becomes “tabloid fodder” so much as I’m suggesting that this kind of flap just adds another layer to him. When it comes down to it, he just needs to keep impressing us with his music and that’s what’s going to sell him eventually. However, if there was some belief that David needed to “go Disney,” at least scandals like this would give people pause in assuming that such an image is David’s fit or that he needed to be marketed in such a limited way.

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