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!