In 2016, I was part of the press junket for The Angry Birds film and noticed that this vocal powerhouse seemed a bit aloof and off. Couldn’t out my finger on it at the time, but Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Devil put it all in perspective. As part of a four-part docu-series produced originally for YouTube, Lovato reveals the struggle, deceit, drug abuse and inner turmoil that led to an unexpected overdose and mental meltdown. NOTE: since my initial draft of this review, Demi has come out and therefore uses the pronouns them/they – which I shall do referring to Demi moving forward throughout this piece.
We oftentimes hear about Disney child stars who have less than stellar transitions into adulthood. At one point it was considered the norm with very few exceptions (Zendaya and Raven Symone). What is it that brings these uber talented young people to a place of despair? What demons were they already harboring before entering the upside down unstable world of entertainment? Why is musical genius accompanied by tragedy? We have witnessed the time and time again through such superstars as Prince, Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin and the list goes on. However, for Demi Lovato, it was a combination of events. Being sexually assaulted as a pre-teen, feeling unloved, a father overdosing with an unhealthy compulsion to check out using hydrocodone are key factors that led to their downward spiral and overdose.
It is with extreme candor, vulnerability and culpable accountability that this pop princess shares a no holds barred look into their life, relationships and people around them (family and non-family) with a documentary allowing audiences and fans to recognize that every human being has their stuff regardless of age. Why do we assume that all youth are troubled due to being privileged and entitled? Confessionals from family and famous friends like Elton John, Christina Aguilera and Will Ferrell consistently comment on the raw human, adorable and brave qualities this musical genius of a vessel possesses.
Instead of hiding in fear or pacing blame on others, they own every single moment – the good, the bad and the ugly by admitting that her choices hurt them and loved ones and those who loved hard enough to protect at costs ultimately damaging some of their careers and reputations. They took heartbreak and disappoint of self and used music to honestly convey emotions and struggles with fans. That transparency led to an invite to the Grammys and singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in 2020 and then COVID-19 took over the globe. today, Demi is thriving by acknowledging her authentic self – a “queer” yet “fluid” being with a lot of shit to say who should not be counted out or down. It’s inspiring heart-wrenching video diary of a life that refuses to be defeated regardless of the demons standing in the way.