When the Private Comes to Light


This past week, I’ve been reading all sorts of blog posts and online articles and think pieces in the wake of both the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died Super Bowl Sunday from a heroin overdose, and the publishing of Dylan Farrow’s Open Letter in The New York Times, which details her memories of childhood sex abuse at the hands of her adopted father Woody Allen.

The social media responses have been swift, condemning, questioning, and highly critical.  Does knowing that Hoffman had a drug addiction that eventually killed him change our reception of his undisputed talent onscreen? Does it change the way we view any of the popular celebrities who have died from drug addictions: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger, Corey Monteith?

Do their private weaknesses take away from their public strengths as musical geniuses or acting talents?

Worse, if you believe Dylan Farrow’s version of things (i.e. that Woody Allen abused his own daughter – adopted or otherwise), will that prevent you from being able to watch his movies again, as one blogger vowed not to?

I would like to think I could divorce the work from the artist. However, the reason why I personally still listen to Michael Jackson’s music is because I believe in his innocence (despite two legal cases accusing him of pedophilia). If I believed he were guilty, I could not listen to or enjoy his music.  It’s why I cannot listen to any music by R. Kelly (I believe he is guilty of sexually preying on underage girls – worse, his music reinforces his disgusting perversions).

Drug addiction is a disease, so I’m more forgiving of those who succumb to their illness, in the case of still appreciating the beautiful vocals of a Whitney Houston or the brilliance of Heath Ledger in movies.

This is why I want to hold on to the public image so much when it comes to David Archuleta. I want to know some private details but only so much.  Because the private details could absolutely taint the way you receive the work.

I also think things are much more difficult for artists like David.  He began with a “good boy” image, and certain fans’ insistence that we view him in terms of blessed goodness (almost to the point of angelic perfection) sets him up for an inevitable fall from grace since no one is perfect.

It’s actually better, I think, to start from a “bad boy” or “bad girl” image because once you improve, you are forever “redeemed.”

Granted, David is much more complex than that, for even as he started out on Idol with a “good” and “angelic” persona, behind-the-scenes rumors about controlling and “abusive” stage dads already tainted that public persona. Which is why I believe, as GG Doors once suggested, that David needs a Janet-Jacksonesque Control album to reassert himself as a grown man in control of his own sound and destiny.

How that is perceived, in the wake of a Mormon mission, is anyone’s guess. Even then, I imagine David already lost some fans over his religious choices and convictions.  He has been very wise in the past to not bring his faith to the fore, but we shall see if he continues to follow this private/public split.

Control over his sound and especially over his image is key, especially when any extra private details could tip the scales on how one is perceived in public.

Posted on February 5, 2014, in public image. Bookmark the permalink. 113 Comments.

  1. I don’t think that David has actually “lost” many fans. His twitter followers have almost doubled in his absence, and is now way over a million. I think most people accepted that he had put his career on hold to do something else, and when he comes back and is active in the music world again, they will reactivate their fandhood (to coin a word). David is unique in that he has many people who involve themselves in aspects of his life that have nothing to do with the talent that got him to be known to begin with.

    As for “Crush”, I think it’s a pretty good song, but nowhere near his best. It has become his “signature” song, which is good in terms of name recognition. It certainly resonated with the all important younger audience, and twitter is still abuzz with tweets about how “Crush was my jam in high school”. Once David comes back, looking older, more confident, and, by all indications from recent pics, handsomer than ever, I think he will draw those young fans, who are now also 5 years older, back in the fold. One great song that young fans can relate their lives to is all it will take.

  2. In regards to Philip Seymour Hoffman- he obviously had some very serious addiction issues but seems like most who knew him said he was very humble, down to earth, and just a really nice guy who never put on airs. Who happened to also be a brilliant, talented actor. Just all so incredibly sad. This is probably way off topic but just read that FOX cancelled the X Factor. Can’t say I am surprised but thought it had another year. I found it interesting. Not sure if others do. lol. http://tvline.com/2014/02/07/the-x-factor-cancelled-fox/

    • Awww, poor simon cowell. He tried so hard to get the U.S. to embrace the x-factor — like a Chihuahua trying to be a tiger. 😉

      • desertrat-lol. I do think the success of the The Voice did effect how the X Factor did not do well. But X Factor just was not that good-that is being nice about it. lol. However-I did still watch it. I don’t know why.

  3. Dont want to go down that rabitt hole…so will just say the headline on the home page of comcast sure
    caught my attention!!!

  4. Simon Cowell is a marketing genius, and he has the bank account to prove it. The producers of AI,including Simon, did not want David to win S7. They wanted David Cook, who appealed to their “customer base”, 25-45, to win. To do that, he intentionally called David’s performance in the finale a “knockout” (which it was) in order to make David’s base complacent and to galvanized Cook’s base to vote in earnest to overcome David’s apparent sure win. It worked like a charm, Cook won, and David has been playing catch up ever since.

    AI lost all credibility as a legitimate talent competition that night, and has been been in a free fall ever since. Someone needs to put it out of it’s and our misery. David should not have to carry the burden of being S7 “runner up” any more.

    As for X-factor, buh-bye. The show was a grotesque mutation of American Idol from day 1.

    • I would agree that for some reason AI wanted Cook to win but that really did not work out so well for them in the long-term. David was really just more marketable than Cook ever would be. Stupid move on AI’s part but they have made alot of them with winners they have pushed to win over more deserving contestants. Just how the show is set up. I still watch AI and am a fan despite all of it’s flaws. I am already wanting to move on to the Top 10 but I always feel that way-It is too dragged out.

  5. I’m really enjoying AI this year–many awesome singers, some compelling personalities, very few “bad” auditions, and only three judges–all of them entertaining. I LOVE Harry Connick Jr. I think watching Michael Slezak and Melinda Doolittle on “Reality Check” helps a lot to relate to the upcoming singers, though Slezak has a JLo hatred that annoys me. I don’t remember if it was here or FOD where the 3rd episode mention of David was linked.

    *Spoiler Alert* I did see that Utah cutie and Richard Parkinson protege Austin Wolfe makes it into the top 30. She’s a very good singer and pretty, but her persona still has to grow on me.

  6. That was a good video-cc halo. Very entertaining. Thanks for posting. I really like Harry.

  7. bliss. I have got to agree with you I always thought that Simon was complementing David A to the point where people thought that David was the winner and stop voting for him, thus panicking Cook’s fan to vote more,

    • That idea is a little too convoluted and too far out in the conspiracy theory field for me. My favorite theory is the beer test–that more people just like the kind of guy they could imagine going out for a drink with. That’s confirmed by the next few years results–the white guy with guitar winners, until last year when the producers made it impossible for a male to win.

  8. sorry that is complimenting

  9. Michael Slezak was brutal to David during S7, and wrote about the many ways David was unworthy to win the title. However, when he interviewed David after the show ended, David charmed the bejesus out of him and turned him into what he always turns his detractors into–mush. Slezak also called “Crush” “surprisingly good”. That’s like going to a 5* restaurant, and finding the food “surprisingly” good.

    JLo makes Paula Abdul, the “nice” judge, seem like the Wicked Witch of the West.. Has JLo ever actually criticized any contestant? Why would AI think bringing back a boring judge from 2 years ago qualified as an exciting “change” in programming? BTW, nobody “got” David from the git go better than Paula. If you go back and listen to her critiques throughout S7, starting at his audition, she realized immediately how unique and special David was. Paula might be a tad ditzy, but when it came to David, she was spot on.

    • Don’t forget that Marc Anthony told David that JLo was calling David “her other man” back when they were married. I think she gets him too.

  10. Potlock8, exactly, and , I’m sure Simon was told the results before it was announced, because he “apologized” to Cook for calling the finale a “knockout”, and that it was actually closer than he originally thought. If he hadn’t done that, he would have seemed foolish for declaring David the “knockout” winner , only to learn that he lost by 12 million votes. I cringe when people say that the results “really didn’t matter” to David’s career. It hurt him in so many ways that we probably don’t even know. The travesty was that David was clearly the winner of that competition. I’ll get over it one day, but not today, lol.

    • You’re right about that “apology”. Ridiculous. It was painfully obvious that he did it because he knew the results. I kind of agree with David when he talks about Cook deserving to win, though I don’t follow him at all.

  11. CCHalo, JLo did comment in an interview that she thought David’s “Imagine” was one of her favorite performances, so she does get points for that.

  12. CCHalo, Cook really took David under his wing and the mutual affection and respect they had (and i’m sure still have) for each other seemed very real and was heartwarming to see. David always said that he thought Cook deserved to win, never showed a whiff of resentment over the outcome, and was classy way beyond his years at every turn. On the other hand, I have been “kvetching” about it for almost 6 years, with no end in sight, lol.

  13. You are right again bliss about David having class and only 17, I will never understand the bad boy image and the grunge that some artist have and get away with. well maybe I do, if it sells the money talks.

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