Culture Clips: Demi’s Overdose

Demi Lovato

After six years of sobriety, pop star Demi Lovato admitted on her latest single that she wasn’t “Sober” anymore. Yesterday, the world came to know the tragic depth of her relapse.

Lovato was taken to a Los Angeles-area hospital after an apparent drug overdose, according to multiple media reports. (Initially, celebrity gossip site TMZ reported that the cause was heroin, but follow-up stories say that report was false.)

“Demi is awake and with her family, who want to express thanks to everyone for the love, prayers and support,” a statement from Lovato’s representative said. “Some of the information being reported is incorrect and they respectfully ask for privacy and not speculation as her health and recovery is the most important thing right now.”

For the last six years, Lovato inspired millions of fans as she talked honestly, sometimes painfully about her struggles with substance addiction, eating disorders and self-harm. Writing for The Daily Beast, Kevin Fallon says that the bond between Lovato and her fans, triggered by Lovato’s transparency, has “been a mutual lifeline, with fans forging a deep connection with her music because of the vulnerability and brutal specificity with which Lovato herself speaks to the reality of addiction, self-abuse, and body image.”

But some say that they’d seen troubling signs in the days leading up to Lovato’s overdose. She had apparently been pushing away close friends, according to Entertainment Tonight, and Us Weekly says that she had fired her sobriety coach just days before her overdose.

Lovato’s troubles are at least known, which makes recovery and rehabilitation possible. The troubles of Nicholas Fudge, the star of National Geographic’s show Wicked Tuna, are sadly over. He died “unexpectedly” at the age of 28. People magazine reports that he’d been arrested on suspicion of a DWI four months earlier.

We have no way of knowing whether alcohol contributed to fudge’s death: The cause of it has yet to be released. But medical professionals are reporting that alcohol is having a massive—sometimes lethal—impact on many other Millennials. According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of 25-to-34-year-olds who died from alcohol-related liver disease nearly tripled between 1999 and 2016.

But that was far from the only study making waves this week, and many of the studies were focused on kids and teens. One survey from the YMCA found that about 60% of teens feel that social media (and the influencers therein) puts pressure on them to look “perfect.” Oh, and by the way, if they’re looking at social media on their phone, that just might be a double whammy, given that teens who use their smartphones a lot may be more susceptible to attention deficit disorder. (More research needs to be done before scientists know for sure.) Another study, done by researchers at the United Kingdom’s sports retailer Decathlon, found that the average U.K. kid between the age of 6 and 16 spends just about an hour outside each day. Video games take up twice as much time.

Then there’s this from the CDC: About four out of every 10 high school students have had sexual intercourse. And about 10% have had sex with four different partners.

We live, obviously, in a sexualized world. It can be difficult to protect kids from it. Even though we know, for instance, that porn has a deeply negative impact on children’s brains, internet filtering tools aren’t always successful in keeping them from seeing it. And even if you’re not online at all, and just watch a little network TV like kids in the olden days used to, you’re not necessarily safe from dealing with sexual issues, either. CW’s Supergirl, which a few years ago we praised for being one of the nicest, cleanest shows on television, will be introducing TV’s first openly transgender superhero into its fold next season.

All of these studies and stories are important, obviously, but it seems there’s a shrinking number of reporters  to cover them. The New York Daily News (a regular story source for us here at Culture Clips central) recently announced it’s scrapping half of its staff. Not that they’re alone. About a third of American newspapers have dealt with layoffs just since 2017.

Maybe all those out-of-work journalists can start working for, I dunno, Fortnite. The online game, ostensibly free to play, has raked in more than $1 billion in earnings. Or maybe they could apply to Google’s parent company, Alphabet. It earned $26.2 billion in one quarter in 2018: It’s making so much money that, according to Slate, the $5.1 billion fine European regulators hit the company with earlier this year will feel like a little mosquito bite.

Or they could simply get into the real estate game, perhaps. A two-bedroom, three-bath house in Los Angeles, better known as the Brady Bunch house, just landed on the market for $1.9 million.

But they certainly can’t become ninjas. Not in Iga, Japan, at least.

The city of Iga wants to open a ninja museum (because, really, who doesn’t love ninjas?). But like most of Japan, Iga has been subject to depopulation as of late, which means it’s having a difficult time finding staff for the museum, including ninja performers. Alas, Iga’s staffing problem got a little mangled in online reports: Many thought that Iga was looking for honest-to-goodness ninja warriors, and officials have been inundated with wanna-be ninja applicants from 14 different countries. “We are just puzzled,” said city official Motoyoshi Shimai.

Me, I’m a little disappointed. I just forked out a lot of good money for a new ninja suit, too.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 7 months ago
It's sad that Demi's going the way of Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse now, but at the same time she hasn't released anything good musically in about 5 years now, and sadly once a junkie, always a junkie.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Really, that's your takeaway from this situation? Because you don't like her music she deserves to suffer? You seem callous and cold. 

-Posted by Chuck
Anonymous 7 months ago
My point was she once used to be sweet and innocent as her show Sonny with a Chance and her first couple of albums demonstrated, but now it seems like she's gotten way more sexually explicit and not nearly as innocent as she once was. Just one listen to her Confidence album will show you that. And because she seems to willingly keep on coming back to drugs even though she knows they're bad for her, I have trouble finding real sympathy towards her.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Maybe Demi should call up Miley for help, because unlike Demi, Miley seems to have gotten her act together and is now better than she has been in years.
Anonymous 7 months ago
It's sad. I had hoped that she was done with drugs. But, there are cases of people who were freed from drug addiction.
charitysplace 7 months ago
Goodness, whatever will the world do with fewer "journalists" in it?

I work in magazine publishing. There's a huge distinction between facts-driven reporting (rare) and innuendo-based reporting, with zero proof -- kind of like the sort that you encounter in daily conversations. Once you start doubling down on proof and facts, you find there's very little to report since most of what you hear and read is unsubstantiated rumors and speculation. And since news moves so fast now (with instant phone access), there's really no accountability or follow-up in printing retractions -- which means "gossip news" is often taken by the public as the real thing. They may still believe the lie 8 years later.

Regarding smoking, drinking, and drugs, cowardice served me well as a teenager. I knew I had alcoholic ancestors and the thought of following in their footsteps stopped me from ever taking a drink (that, and a Baptist upbringing which likened drinking to one of the original sins, lol). Same thing with drugs -- the idea of being on anything that could inhibit my ability to think terrifies me. I even hate painkillers. And smoking reeks and will give you cancer, yet kids still smoke. But by virtue of homeschooling, I was protected from opportunity and temptation until old enough to stand on my own principles.

I can understand the need kids have in highly-image-conscious world to self-medicate to deal with their tremendous feelings of anxiety -- the poor things are growing up in a world of cyber bullying, where you have to be popular / achieve likes on social media, where you are pressured to look perfect and get top grades and where everything costs so much, you know you'll have to get an amazing job just to afford your iPhone bills, much less an apartment. I have a lot of empathy for the modern teenager. It's way tougher for them than it was for me. I grew up just as the internet was coming into being (and was one of the first "nerds" on it) -- way before social media was common, before SmartPhones, and back when entertaining myself for an afternoon meant sitting under a tree with a book.

I feel sorry for teen and young celebrities -- it's a hard, pressure-filled life.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

More politics getting inserted into Supergirl? No thanks. It’s why I stopped watching two years ago.
Miss Priss 7 months ago
I hear you. Whatever happened to fun and escapism? I still watch the show, but it does get old sometimes.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I have to gently remind you that absolutely everything is political. Everything. It's only when the politics conflict with your own that they begin to stand out to you. Supergirl was never apolitical at any point, and neither was anything else you watch. It would be more honest to say "politics I don't like."

-Posted by Chuck
Anonymous 7 months ago
I don't know about that, Chuck.

I think it's naive to expect all entertainment to be free of politics, especially these days.

But there is something to be said for certain TV shows, movies and sports remaining as apolitical as possible in order to preserve cultural rallying points that can unite people of differing political ideologies, classes, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.

So often nowadays you see something that used to be purely entertainment becoming just another battlefield in these destructive and silly culture wars. 

Political polarization is awful enough, but when that simplistic us-vs.-them attitude starts to extend to the rest of the culture, so that we all start choosing sides and existing in separate cultural bubbles -- that's tragic.

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Gotta disagree with you there Chuck. It used to be the case where politics never really played a role in our entertainment, but the movie landscape has changed dramatically since the 2000s.

Take Spider-Man, for example. I rewatched the original movie recently and it was pure popcorn entertainment. Well made popcorn entertainment, at that. Not so with Spider-Man: Homecoming, a movie where MJ doesn’t want to “celebrate something built by the slaves,” despite the fact that there’s no evidence of the Washington Monument ever being so.

Or take Beauty and the Beast, in which the remake made Lafou gay just for the sake of it, whereas the original had no politics whatsoever.

People watch entertainment so that they can escape life (i. e. politics), not so that they’re reminded of real life. Yet the left continues to put their political views in our entertainment, from kneeling during the national anthem to making Lando pansexual in Solo for some reason.

In the end, entertainment never became political until the left made it political.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Kenosha Kid and First Comment Guy, I don't think you understand my post. I'm not saying that "These days, everything has politics inserted into it." I'm saying that even the things you think are apolitical... are not. Every single piece of media and entertainment on the planet has at least one or two implicit values and viewpoints to impart, and it's only when these conflict with your own views that you notice them; otherwise, they sneak by undetected, and you can get away with calling your favorite show "apolitical" when really, it never was.

Your favorite movie Spider-Man was never apolitical. Neither was Beauty and the Beast. For the latter, especially, I have to chuckle at the idea that it's somehow free of politics, given that the whole thing is a blatant metaphor for homosexuality written by a songwriter who died of AIDS. And neither is Supergirl, which had a (mild) feminist message from the start. Every single piece of entertainment you've EVER seen imparts an idea of values. Some of them are just more obvious than others. 

I'm really not trying to be rude, but you have to think more critically, guys. I'm honestly a little disappointed.

-Posted by Chuck
charitysplace 7 months ago
Everything an artist creates has part of them in it, including their politics. Their worldview, their belief system, and their political leanings will influence their work.

What's really funny is when the artist / producer / writer thinks their message is SO OBVIOUS and to anyone who does not share their ideology... it isn't. Or it's a small blip on the radar.

To be less abstract -- it was hilarious to me that the producers of The Man in the High Castle thought NOW was the time to release their series -- because they think Trump is a Nazi. To anyone who doesn't think he's one, there's zero "parallels to modern society." And it's not a "warning against racism." It's a case of them back-patting themselves on being so useful to society and warning them of the threats in their midst, when to most of their audience, the parallels will never enter their mind.

It's like that with most things.

But I would agree with Chuck that everything has become more BLATANTLY political. When you can't even go to a Scandinavian Festival without being preached at about how much more PROGRESSIVE and TOLERANT the Scandinavian countries are...
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Yes, Supergirl has had a mild feminist message since it started, but the show has slowly turned up the volume on its liberal agenda that it has now become incredibly obvious, from villainizing white men to making Kara’s step sister fall in love with another woman to now adding a transgender superhero. Supergirl’s politics aren’t mild; they’re blatant.

Frankly, all this political infusion in Hollywood has gotten me to the point where I’m more interested in my games than Hollywood. No political messages in games like Sonic Mania. (great game; give it a try if you get the chance to)

Also, I’m confused by what you have to say about Beauty and the Beast; where is the homosexuality message in the film? Granted, it has been years since I saw the original, so it either wasn’t there or it was and I’ve forgotten about it.

Anonymous 7 months ago
In the first film Lefou was always the weird strange one, so it's no big shock to me that they decided to make him be attracted to men in last years remake of it, but the lone homosexual reference in the film was a split second shot of him holding a guys hand while he's dancing and then both shrugging like they don't care, so in the end it may show Lefou as being gay, but just barely.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy 

So you say there’s a metaphor for homosexuality in BatB even though there’s no concret direct evidence of said metaphor.

Anonymous 7 months ago
Chuck, maybe the disagreement here comes down to us using different (and equally valid) definitions of "political." 

I think First Comment Guy and I are using it to mean something like "pertaining to a contemporary political issue." 

I think you might be using it in the more academic sense of "pertaining to the values and power dynamics at work in a society."

According to your definition, I'd absolutely agree with you. The most innocuous cartoon implies some sort of underlying value system and worldview. Stories about damsels in distress, wicked tyrants, and dogged detectives are all "political" in that sense.

But according to our definition, there are plenty of TV shows, movies and music that aren't "political" in that they don't deal with hot-button political issues like gender fluidity, racism in law enforcement, Confederate monuments, changing political norms, and Republicans vs. Democrats.

THOSE are the sorts of issues I'm referring to when I say "political."

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 7 months ago
Last years remake of Beauty and the Beast was wonderful through and through, and even though Lefou did seem to be attracted to Gaston, even having mixed feelings about him at times, the whole gay scene in question was barely noticeable and not nearly enough to bring down the whole movie because of it. Just like how some people feel Show Dogs is evil because of that particular scene that is reminiscent of what happens in a real dog show, some people felt Beauty and the Beast was evil too because of a gay scene that was blown way out of proportion. Some people take things way too seriously and make mountains out of molehills. But that's just my opinion obviously.