Daily Archives: July 14, 2009
Reprinted from The David Chronicles.
I’ve been pondering David Segal’s editorial in the New York Times, in which he argues that fame on the level of Michael Jackson’s, will never be the same again, and that, in the wake of digital culture, the superstar may have also died with MJ. Arguing that digital culture is much too fragmented to deliver a global star that can unite all of our interests, Segal predicts that we will never have another icon like Michael Jackson and that we may never see another global outpouring of grief as we have with MJ’s death.
While I think it’s very possible that the global superstardom of Michael Jackson may never be replicated, that he may have closed an era of iconicity (the kind that we saw with a Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley), I’m not sure I am ready to declare the death of the superstar. Most of these icons were transformed into superstars, thanks to radio, movies, televisions, and big ol’ posters and billboards. There is a reason why they became larger than life (their images often literally were) and why we seemed to know them so intimately: their voices or faces entered into our homes via TV and radio. That’s the paradox of superstardom. These celebrities seem so intimate, yet they are so far out of our grasp.
Enter digital culture to alter that perspective. Those of us who expect our stars to appear in the places we often expect, such as TV or radio, complain incessantly when David’s label seems to limit his presence in these media. Yet, David has kept up a constant, and I must say, very intimate correspondence. He tweets to us when he’s feeling sick or suffering from insomnia or when he’s eating Thai food. He leaves text messages or voice mails like a friend or lover would. He blogs, vlogs, and generally gives the impression that he and his fans are super tight.
I think of this relationship David has created with his fans and wonder how differently we might have interpreted Michael Jackson had he too kept this kind of digital communication. What if, like David, MJ tweeted to his gazillion fans (that is, before Twitter crashed)? What if he tweeted about his kids? What if he tweeted that he couldn’t sleep, which, apparently, he couldn’t? Would fans have been so shocked by his sudden passing? Would fans had tried to intervene?
I am saddened that with his global superstardom, Michael Jackson never did have something like digital communication when his star was on the rise. If he had, perhaps superstardom might not have frightened him as it eventually did, warping his relationship with the public that seemed to adore and ridicule him.
Last Tuesday’s memorial managed to humanize him for the first time in a very long time. I can’t help but feel twitter or blogging might have done the same thing.
It’s because of this interactivity of digital culture why I believe the nature of stardom will inevitably change. However, that certainly doesn’t rule out the potential for another superstar to unite the globe and take his talent through the stratosphere. David may be able to live up to this potential, already commanding the digital tools at hand.
In an attempt to piece together the David Dreams that I’ve had (and which I posted in the comments of Rascal’s Noting David blog), I’m sifting through the different comments. It’s a long and arduous process, but I’m doing my best to find them since they’ve been recorded in our conversations about David. I’m hoping once I assemble them together, I will discover a recurring theme about David and what he means to my psyche. So far, I have found my second dream about David (which was actually a nightmare).
Dated October 24, 2008:
Hey everyone! OMG, I had another nightmare! Hope you don’t mind my sharing, because, again, it was with David Archuleta.
See, I found myself falling asleep early, especially because earlier tonight, my cable server was down (no TV, no internet). So I was dreaming I was on a Caribbean island staying in a really nice pleasant room, perhaps in a hotel, instead of visiting relatives like I usually do. I decided to take a nap, and next thing you know, I see David Archuleta in my room. He’s all pleasant, then all of a sudden, he starts seducing me, climbing onto my bed and trying to get on top of me.
Immediately, I knew this couldn’t be David because he just wouldn’t behave like that. And in an instant, I felt it was an evil spirit trying to get into me. (Yes, this is part of my spiritual belief). I tried to scream but I couldn’t make any sound, so I started praying, and after praying, my scream came out, and a bunch of elderly women and one young woman burst into my room. David was no longer there, and I was suddenly free. They were all comforting me, and I told them how this evil spirit tried to make me believe he was David Archuleta so he could seduce me.
And then I woke up.
Good Lord! I am still shaking. It’s the wee hours of the morning, but I’m afraid to go back to sleep. So, I’ve got my TV on and I’m online. I need to find more of my innocent David clips to wipe out that nightmare from my mind.
I just knew that wasn’t my David. Have mercy!