While looking for any latest news concerning David’s interview with MTV News today, I come upon a news feed about a Tween Summit in Washington, D.C. What does this have to do with David?
Why, the very first sentence in the article is about his “Crush” blasting on loud speakers at this national event – the first of its kind – catering to “tween” girls who are proving to be a power force. Did you know, for example, that girls between the ages of 8 and 12 are believed to control or influence as much as $200 billion in purchasing power? No wonder the adults want to hear from them (and why Jive and even Disney began marketing David towards them). Then, there’s the obvious fact that, as David grows older, so too will this core group of fans. As David matures, so too will their tastes.
Now, here’s the thing. I still believe this “tween marketing” and tween association prevent David from being taken seriously as a music artist. And yet, part of the reason he doesn’t get taken seriously is because he’s billed as that loveable boy only tween girls can love. Somewhere in this “dismissal” is the ageism and sexism that also dismiss young girls as having any relevance or any cultural tastes. I mean, there is no denying David’s appeal to this particular demographic, but I’ve always felt that such declarations often dismissed David’s universal appeal. Of course, he’s loveable to tween girls, but he’s also loveable to older women and men and to gays and straights, blacks and whites, Latinos and Anglos, Americans and internationals. Everybody loves David. Yet, it never fails that someone in the media immediately invokes his name or his tween fanbase as if the two are interchangeable.
Is this an image problem? And if David’s primary base is the tween market, how exactly will Christmas from the Heart be marketed? I have a feeling that, had someone from Jive been the executive producer, and not Jeff, we might have gotten more “fun” carols included, like “Jingle Bells” or “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Instead, we receive this most reverent of Christmas albums, which seems to proclaim David as not another teen sensation. And he isn’t.
I’m just waiting for everyone else to finally get that David has surpassed the “tween summit.” And even then, it would help if his associations with tween girls didn’t immediately result in other folks dismissing his incredible talents and the respect he deserves as an artist in his own right.