The Anti-David Archuleta Factor

As much as the artists I’ve been featuring in the “Being 20” series have given me hope on what might be in store for David’s future, I do have this nagging issue that we Archies must contend with.  It’s not just an issue of whether these music legends would have had the same kind of career were they starting today – in a very different music industry than what existed 40 years ago – but also the issue that none of these legends, when they were David’s age, had to contend with an anti-fan factor, or just plain hateration.

I was reminded of this David Hate unwittingly when I tuned into one of these entertainment shows this weekend to see David Cook featured for his upcoming album release. (See, Jive, this is how you build buzz going into an album release.  But I suspect Jive A$$ already knows this, hence their lack of promo, which I’m sure is tied to the anti-David Archuleta factor I’m discussing for this post.)  Don’t get me wrong.  Part of the benefits of winning Idol (although neither Taylor Hicks nor Kris Allen could probably attest to this) is that you have the machine behind you.  No disrespect to Cook, and I wish him well. But, I’ll admit that I have a hard time getting over grudges.

My grudge is less about David not winning – in the grand scheme of things, really, who cares? – and more about how an anti-David Archuleta campaign was in effect that season.  Yes, I’m still pissed that Simon Cowell, before the Final 2 Showdown began, “advised” Cookie to “really hate his opponent” (which was less about Cook, who obviously didn’t hate David, and more about inciting his fans and Idol viewers to hate on the “tween and granny vote-getter,” as Simon called him during various interviews with the media). I’m still angry that Ryan Seacrest went on Larry King Live, before the final days of Season 7, to express his concern that David just wasn’t up to being an Idol winner were he to win (yes, apparently, he thought David couldn’t handle the pressure of the press et al).  And don’t get me started on the Stage Dad rumors.

Nor do I have to explain to you guys how that negative spin still impacted on David’s career post-Idol: from certain music critics admitting “shame” that they had David’s music (particularly “Crush”) on their i-pods to various radio stations making fun of his less-than-cool persona.  It’s this general disrespect that I’ve never been able to shake off in my journey as a David Archuleta fan.  Since I’m not of the 18-25 young adult or even younger demographic, I really don’t care about “cool.”  But coolness still matters when it comes to selling your music, which relies on selling one’s image to fans and potential fans.

The anti-David Archuleta factor has made me sigh and get exasperated whenever David would put himself down as a “dork” or as “cheesy.” Beyond just your basic lack of self-promotion was this self-negation that I really didn’t understand.  Not just because, when I look at David, I don’t see a “dork” but also because I never interpreted his proclamations as signs of someone proudly waving his freak flag (“Dork Power!” “Geek Pride!”  “Woo hoo!!”).  Instead, it seemed like self-put-downs.  And all I could think of is: “David, dude, enough people are putting you down.  Don’t join the chorus!”

There’s humility and then there’s low self esteem, and sadly, we Archies never were able to distinguish between the two.  When David’s humility was evident, I praised him for it (especially his ability to laugh at himself: “I do sound like Kermit the Frog!”), but when he’s basically exhibiting low self-esteem (“I’m such a dork…I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror!”), all I can think of is: “Puh-lease get thee to a therapist pronto!” After all, humility is a lovely virtue, but so is having a healthy ego and a sexual appetite (which would at least create a sense of one’s sex appeal, which David needs to grow more comfortable with having).

I raise these flaws – IMHO – because I do think David needs to outgrow them or at least adjust them in ways that work toward his strengths.  He will need to work on his image precisely because an anti-David Archuleta factor does exist.  It accounts for why so many media outlets quickly picked up on the “buzz” (generated by his wicked witch of a former manager) that he had been “dropped” by his label.  Now, why were these nitwits so quick with this info?  Could it have something to do with the anti-David Archuleta factor? After all, these are the same jokers who wouldn’t mention or play his music but were all too eager to report on his father’s shenanigans and his parents’ divorce.  Not positive publicity, just the negative.

We might as well label it the pink elephant in the room (for which street artist prankster Banksy gave us this literal metaphor in living color in an LA exhibit back in 2006 – see above).  For whatever reason, there are folks in the machine who don’t like David, and I really don’t understand the hate.  If one is not a fan, then yes, I understand that. For some folks, he’s just not their cup of tea, and some folks honestly don’t like The Voice.  But outright hate, I don’t get.  And David has this, and somehow, he’s going to have to deal with it. (Heck, at least Michael Jackson’s haters didn’t happen until well past MJ’s musical prime.)

The only way David will effectively deal with this is when he wrests control of his public image.  And that would mean being able to look himself in the mirror and make assessments and adjustments. Heck, if I were his manager, I would have made that a daily “assignment” for him.

Lady Gaga has the benefit of being able to hide her real self, Stefani Germinotta, behind a ton of crazy fashions and a stage name.  But David launched his “just David” self on a reality TV show.  There’s no protection after that, I suspect.  But I do believe, at his young age, that he can reinvent himself.  He’s at that age where he could make all kinds of transitions and interventions.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that he changes into something unrecognizable.  But I would suggest that, when he makes his “comeback” (and let’s hope it’s sooner than later), that he does so in a way that says: “I’m David, bitch!”  ‘Cause, you know, I really would love for him to have enough ‘tude to tell his haters to go to hell (but in David fashion so that they actually look forward to the trip – besides, it’s not like he’d ever curse or anything. That would be so un-David-like. I’m just referring to attitude in the abstract – haha!).

At the same time, here’s to David growing up, getting bolder, and redefining coolness!

Posted on March 6, 2011, in David's career, public image. Bookmark the permalink. 134 Comments.

  1. This is really, really long. I hesitate to post it it’s so long so I apologize in advance. lol

    I too think David has self-esteem issues as is pretty common for his age. The difference is that David VOICES his thoughts instead of keeping them inside as I wish he would. I was physically insecure myself so I understand. I was 36-26-36 and 123 pounds but thought I was fat. I was actually pretty but I didn’t see it, hated having my picture taken. It’s just that his opinion is incomprehensible, incongruous to the gazillions of us who are dazzled by his gorgeous good looks.

    I think David claiming to be a dork is kind of similar. He’s not a self-assured, arrogant hunk. He’s just being himself. For him, that equates to ‘dork’. Again, I just wish he would put a cork in it (lol) and not throw his thoughts out for public consumption. I’m sure it is off-putting for many younger fans who want to be ‘cool’ and aren’t comfortable with the negative connotations of ‘dork’ and ‘nerd’.

    As far as sexuality is concerned, here’s my take. I think David is definitely heterosexual but is most certainly a late bloomer largely due to his shyness. Also probably some of his personal experiences—moving around so much and being home schooled a lot, the shock of his catastrophic vocal problems just when he was developing some confidence, possibly some family difficulties. I think he’s unaware of how sensually he comes across on stage. He just goes to that ‘other place’ where he’s completely consumed by the music. He loves it sooo much, it’s freeing. He’s up there having the time of his life and is just thrilled coz everyone else seems to like the songs, too. He doesn’t see what we see.

    I know many feel that church teachings are inhibiting to David. I’ve been LDS for about 40 years, so I’ll tell you what I’ve seen in regards to church teachings and attitudes about sex. Instead of sex being viewed as ‘dirty’, it’s the opposite. It is considered a beautiful thing created by God to be shared with your spouse, not the general public. Youth are encouraged to wait until age sixteen to date and then not to get serious too young, but to enjoy their early years. And, church teachings are the same all over. No matter where you are in the world, classes are taught out of the same manuals, the same week, everywhere.

    Another thing. Instead of a whip and a chair as people suspect–trying to force standards on you or being deeply disapproving if you don’t conform—it’s the opposite. I actually love the approach. Instead of harsh demands and condemnation, it’s good-hearted ‘encourage, encourage, encourage’. And when you don’t conform, people still show they care about you and support you, anyway.

    Case in point: I remember when a girl in my ward family got pregnant. Everyone was really supportive. They felt badly that it had happened but not negatively toward the young couple or her family. I didn’t hear a single person say a word of condemnation. I was told later that her Young Women’s leader was a big support to her, that she encouraged her to put the baby up for adoption. She was just 15 or 16 and both her parents worked so I would’ve thought that course the wisest myself. She did give the child up for adoption. After that, the boyfriend and she got back on track behavior-wise and ended up married in the temple after they graduated from high school. They’re happily married today, have three young boys, and are still active in church.

    David is definitely an enigma. He’s so straight, he’s pretty much an anomaly even in the LDS world. He seems to me to be a really private person. He cares about, reaches out and gives to others but has an emotional wall around himself that few people get past. I think he feels things very deeply and is not gonna easily let someone in. It may be partially or largely due to discord he saw at home, idk. On the other hand, I remember reading that when Jeff was asked what they did to raise such a good kid, he said, ‘Nothing. He came to us this way.’ So, it may actually be that he IS ‘just David’, wonderful but just a tad different.

    He’s taking his time when it comes to romance. I think ultimately he’ll marry, have a big family and be very happy. I certainly hope so coz very few people have touched my heart as deeply as David has, certainly no celebrity, very few outside of family, actually. I identify with what one woman wrote—‘he feels like one of my own’. It’s a strange experience but one I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

  2. I guess I should have said ‘This trip with David is a strange experience in ways but one I wouldn’t have missed for the world.’

    • Shanny in Australia

      Bookaholic – loved your post. Thanks so much. It has a real gentle, loving, clear minded feel to it.

      I will briefly say…I don’t think David is necessarily an anomaly even in the LDS world. I think the public attention he has on him places added pressure to never make a mis-step and that is why it seems that way. I know quite a number of people who are ‘real good kids’, that I think if they were in the public eye, they too would come across very straight and conservative.

      Besides….we really only see the David, David wants us to see – do any of us REALLY believe that he has never had an unkind thought or a judgemental thought? I doubt it. He is still human too.

      However, I sure hope you are right about his future Bookaholic and he gets as many dreams come true as any one person is allowed to have in this life.

      ha! Love you always David.

  3. Thanks for the nice words, Shanny.

    When I say that David is an anomaly in the LDS world, I’m speaking of degrees. At least in America from what I’ve seen, most all LDS kids have crushes on various classmates or friends, they date, they hold hands and kiss. Gosh, some of the girls are married by David’s age. My old bishop’s daughter is getting married next month and will be just short of 20.

    It may be different in certain other conservative cultures in the world that young people get to age 20 without ever having kissed someone. Here in America, if there are any beyond David who haven’t smooched someone, it’s probably for lack of opportunity, not lack of desire. lol

    He really is an odd little bird. The question is WHY?

  4. Haven’t read a single comment…BUT LOVED YOUR ARTICLE. I’m the David that lurks on all the sites, and we had a run in several months ago, because you thought I was “hit and running” on your article involving his being in the club. Anyhoo…certainly a great POV and something to bounce a lot of opinions off of!

  5. Now I have to read this thread! I’ve just scanned up and …

  6. Yes, and I’m still pondering. You REALLY hit a chord with me, to be sure. This time, though, I’m waiting for the crazies to subside.

  7. The crazies, being my own thoughts. I think, though, that you’ve pretty much hit the crux of a lot of his “problems” of not being as popular as he could be, without a ton of speculation…which is pretty much what I would add…speculation.

  8. david will be back witha BANG.. watch it Jive..

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