Words: Adam O Reilly
I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across the story of Demi Lovato apparently overdosing on heroin. Initially I had my doubts since the tweet was from TMZ but even so I knew it was unlikely that even TMZ would go for a story like this without good sources. I’m not a massive Demi Lovato fan or anything, I do however think she’s extremely talented and has some great bops. I was still shocked when I saw the headline, it felt like one of those pop culture moments that you just know is going to create big waves. A few seconds after reading the headline my initial thought was “is she going to die?”. She is only 25 and to think of someone dying that young is devastating.
The public “sobriety watch”
I knew that Demi Lovato was struggling with her sobriety for a few years. I remember reading about it and what struck me was the fact that someone so young was in a position that they needed that kind of help. I suppose it made me realise that I was being naive to addiction as a disease and how it isn’t restricted to a certain age group or that you had to be a certain age to really be an addict. I remember seeing pictures of Demi Lovato on Instagram with a group of friends where she was holding a glass with a straw and everyone jumped down her throat saying she wasn’t sober anymore. That must be hard, for someone who is trying to recover from addiction to be scrutinised for holding a glass. Later she clarified and said it was a red bull but should she have to do that? Should she have to nullify our doubts about her sobriety? I don’t think so, we all need to work on ourselves but how are we supposed to evolve when we have so many people just waiting for the first glimpse of a fall. I don’t think being a fan of an artist gives you the right to question their sobriety from a picture, in the very least I don’t think it’s beneficial for anyone. I have to believe that level of scrutiny can break a person. Demi Lovato must feel like her entire world is falling apart right now AND she has to listen to our commentary on her business. I guess that’s inevitable though, there’s definitely a price that comes with that level of celebrity. I think it’s important for us to try and perceive that, having your most vulnerable sides put under a microscope. It must be absolutely traumatic.
Raise your own kids
Another thing that bothers me about the Demi Lovato “sobriety watch” is the backlash she’s getting from people who are saying she’s setting a bad example for her young fans. If that was your initial thought I think you’re selfish. We (myself included) fail to acknowledge that she is still a living breathing person. We don’t know Demi Lovato, period. She exists to us a perception of the Demi Lovato that we have created by piecing together observations of her work and her online presence. I don’t see how it’s fair that we hold her to a higher standard than any other person. We tend to have notions about what “celebrity” really means and we have almost dissociated “them” from being human. If you are a parent your priority shouldn’t be to go out and bash Demi Lovato for relapsing, your job is to teach your child to be aware, understanding and compassionate. There are grown people tearing apart this young woman online because she’s not setting a good enough example for the youth. The hypocrisy, I have to laugh.
We love to see them fall
Demi Lovato didn’t grow up like the rest of us. Demi was a Barney and Friends child who eventually went on to work on the Disney Channel where she landed her first big role as Mitchie Torres in Camp Rock in 2008. I’m not oblivious to the advantages that that she grew up with that the rest of us didn’t but again being in the public eye from such a young age has to leave scars, scars which we are all to quick to either forget or ignore. Clearly living your life in the public eye from such a young age takes its toll and it isn’t unique to Demi Lovato. Child stars are notorious for crumbling in the media in later life, it almost seems unavoidable. We love to build these stars up just to watch them shatter into a million pieces. We love to watch their perfect lives turn into a train wreck with a media firestorm as the cherry on top. There is obviously something about a star imploding upon themselves that appeals to us. As far as I can figure some sick voice inside of us cheers when we see someone who we perceive has everything we could want hit rock bottom, like it makes us feel better about everything lacking in our own lives. This is certainly something I’d like to see change within myself.
Are we judging Demi Lovato harder because she is a woman?
Finally I can’t help but feel that Demi Lovato is being judged harder because she is a woman. Take Kurt Cobain for example, I think we cling to the idea that the Nirvana lead died a rockstar. He battled with his sobriety but it was acceptable because he was a ******* rockstar baby! I don’t think that females in the music industry are given the same pass when it comes to addiction. I’m not asking for people to glamourise addiction but I’m asking for people to recognise that just by being a woman in today’s society that Demi Lovato is set up for harsher criticism purely on the basis of her gender.