Today I am doing a review on Demi Lovato’s new documentary titled Simply Complicated. Now bear with me because this is going to be my longest article yet, but I promise you by the end you will be sitting down to watch this documentary, whether out of pure curiosity, because my review swayed you, or because you have a love or maybe even dislike of Demi Lovato. But regardless I think you should all watch it, as it is an artist sharing their secrets, the good the bad and the most definitely ugly – they are putting their heart and soul into these documentaries and as an audience I think we should take the time to listen.
I originally planned on doing an unbiased review of this, but then realized that a review is supposed to be your feelings on the particular content, as well as I just couldn’t figure out who to write this with an unbiased voice, so you will be hearing my real honest opinions and my take on the overall documentary. You might disagree and thats your prerogative, I by no means am saying my opinion is the right one, it simply is just my opinion. So let me know what you thought about the documentary in the comments below, I would love to hear all of your takeaways!
“I’ve learned that secrets make you sick”
“I’m learning how to be a voice and not a victim”
“I’ve learned that sex is natural”
“I’ve learned that love is necessary”
“Heartbreak is unavoidable”
“And loneliness is brutal”
“I’ve learned the key to being happy is to tell your truth”
“And to be okay without all the answers”
These are the words that start this documentary, and they set the common themes that are seen throughout the rest of the film. The first scene shows Demi sitting on a couch talking to an interviewer. She starts off by saying she had anxiety about doing this interview because the last time she did an interview this long, she was on cocaine – the interview was called staying strong. She starts this entire film about herself by dropping this truth bomb that she was lying to everyone, family, friends, her manager and even her fans, and was using while promoting her new clean lifestyle. This powerful scene sets the tone for the rest of the video – real, raw, emotional, and no holds barred.
This first scene was empowering to me. For her to come out in the first few minutes of her documentary and tell the whole world one she was a fraud, was a power move in my opinion. I feel like in general documentaries like to highlight all the good things about that person at the beginning to prepare you for the bad stuff that usually follows. She chose to be up front and get it out in the open right away – and thats pretty bad ass if you ask me.
Some people may be thrown off by this, and who knows, maybe they stopped watching. I understand this on some level. Here is this 25 year old girl who gets to travel the globe, sing songs, her job is her passion, more money than most of us could dream of, and the world at her fingertips, are we supposed to pity her? Feel bad for her? I can see how that might be hard for some people. I understand that they have so much going for them, but I also see the flip side and how this life can lead to a path of destruction.
“I’ve learned that secrets make you sick”
From a young age Demi saw the effects that drugs and alcohol can have on a person. Her birth father was a drug addict and an alcoholic. It seems to be a common misconception that if your parent or anyone in your life is an addict, you want to be different from them – to not lead that type of lifestyle. However like I said, this can be a misconception, which is true in Demi’s case. Instead of deciding against that life, she wanted to know what the addiction did for her father, because in her mind it fulfilled him enough to leave behind their family.
In other words, she wanted to feel what he felt and why it was so important to him, enough to choose the drugs over her. So at 17 she started to experiment with cocaine. This was at the time that she was starring on Disney Channel. This part of the documentary had me taking a step back – this girl was someone I watched and looked up to, camp rock was and is still a favorite movie of mine. It is very hard for me to imagine this young girl on my TV screen, on the disney channel, being high on cocaine – you never would have known. But these child actors and musicians have access to things us everyday people do not. I didn’t know anyone who had tried cocaine or even talked about it until I was in my twenties at college. And even then I was blown away by the number of people around me who used, and how common it was. At 17 this was not even on my radar, and for her it was just a part of everyday life.
Her manager Phil says in the film, “She was living two lives” she had her perfect disney princess life, and when the cameras weren’t rolling she was being her normal 17 year-old self. But who she was didn’t fit the Disney ideals, so she had to live this fake life, leading her to find an escape. It is stated in the film that she was on the road to suicide, and that if something didn’t change, she was going to die. They talk about her hitting rock bottom and when it all started to change – and trust me, its not pretty. The lies, manipulation, the secrets and the drugs were leading Demi down a path to the grave, and if things didn’t change, she would have ended up six feet under.
“I’m learning how to be a voice and not a victim”
At 18 Demi was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, and in the film she talks about how this was the first time things started to make sense for her. She could go from happy, to sad to belligerent within the same day. Episodes of mania, and other things she couldn’t explain finally started to add up. For the first time in her life she realized she wasn’t crazy and that something bigger was going on. For people with depression and anxiety and bi polar disorder, it is almost a comfort knowing that there is a reason, and that there is actually something that is mis-wired in your brain. Like its not your fault that these thoughts and feelings are going through your head – there is a bigger picture.
Demi also talks about her struggle with eating disorders, and binging/purging. Because she was in the spotlight from such a young age, Demi felt she needed to be thin and beautiful in order to be successful, and unfortunately she wasn’t necessarily wrong. Today’s society is so focused on weight and being thin, and its frankly not healthy. In the last few years we have started to see more women promoting athletic builds and exercise, and its the direction we need to continue to head in. Demi has taken this head on and is now a promoter of Fabletics athletic wear. She works out on a daily basis and leads a healthier lifestyle – doing kickboxing and even jiu jitsu. She sees working out as a way for her to feel empowered as well as it is an outlet for aggression and a way to take her mind off things. In some ways it is a form of meditation and self reflection.
As she is talking about these things I got the sense that she was proud of the person she was becoming and the person she was is slowly getting pushed away. She took her bi – polar disorder, depression and anxiety, and now openly talks about them, turning her experiences into lessons for those going through the same things. She took her love for working out and partnered with Fabletics to get the word out about living a healthy, bad ass lifestyle – instead of heading down the road to destruction that comes with an eating disorder. This 25 year old woman has had more experiences in her short life than most of us will in our entire lifetimes, but she is using those experiences and channeling them into something good. Like she states – she is learning how to become a voice and not a victim – and I think she is killing it.
“I’ve learned that sex is natural”
For all the women out there, this is for you. Your body is yours to do with what you please. Whether that is waiting to have sex until marriage, or having sex with your partner, or hooking up with a guy (or girl) you met on tinder, it is your body and no one can tell you what to do with it. As long as you respect yourself and are safe, no one can tell you you can’t have casual sex. Demi talks about how she doesn’t understand the stigma behind women sleeping around. Men do it all the time, and are even encouraged to do so, yet when a woman does she gets labeled a slut, or whore, or any other derogatory word you can think of. I love that she uses this documentary as a platform to let women know that having casual sex doesn’t make you any of those things. It’s fun and exciting and completely your choice. The topic of sex makes many people uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t, its a part of life and being open about it should be more common, instead of the taboo that seems to follow the topic around.
Another big part of Demi’s life that is talked about is her relationship with Wilmer Valderrama. It isn’t news that her and Wilmer broke up last year after a long term relationship, but since then she has been going out on dates and meeting all sorts of new people. She talks about how exciting dating is and the excitement and nerves that go with it. In the documentary she makes the point to say that she is on dating apps with both guys and girls; now I’m sure that this might be uncomfortable for some of you and there are probably a few of you who are completely against it, but I urge you to reconsider. I know that most people are set in their ways, however I love how Demi describes it in the documentary – She is looking for “Human Connection” and to her it doesn’t matter if thats a guy or a girl. I believe that as long as someone makes you happy and makes you feel something, then gender shouldn’t matter. (Again this is my opinion and I respect the opinions of those of you who may disagree – this is just my personal take on the matter).
So go out, find human connection, have fun, get excited and just look for that thing or person that does something for you, and forget what everyone else has to say about it – because if it makes you happy, then you aren’t wrong, they are just misguided. This is your life, and you get to live it according to your rules, not anyone else’s.
“I’ve learned that love is necessary”
As I stated in the previous portion of this article, Demi and Wilmer were in a six year relationship and broke up last year. She talks a lot about their relationship, and the six years they spent together. They first met at Wilmer’s house, he was 29 and she was only 17 at the time, so nothing could happen at that point – I mean that is a pretty significant age difference. But after she turned 18 they started dating. She said, “It was love at first sight, and I don’t really believe in that, but I know that it happened”. I thought this statement was really beautiful, that even though its not something she believed in, she believed in them so much that she realized that it happened, and that he was it for her. She talks a lot about how she still loves him and she always will. “You don’t share six years with somebody and not give a piece of your heart”. I respect the fact that they parted mutually and for very adult reasons, and that they are still really good friends. It shows a maturity in Demi that justifies their large age difference.
She also talks a lot about her family, her mother, her two sisters and the man who would eventually become her “dad” regardless of blood. You can feel the love they all have for each other throughout this film, the support they have always had for Demi, as well as the pain they felt finding out the things that she was going through. Your heart almost breaks for her mom when she talks about Demi’s eating disorder and how she feels she didn’t let her daughters know that it was okay not to be society’s ideal body shape, because she didn’t know either – As a former Dallas cowboys cheerleader, her mother always believed the bull shit story that society feeds us about how you look and the road to success. But one thing that can not be questioned is Demi’s love for her family, and vice versa.
Love can help you overcome nearly anything, you just need to find those people who are good for you, and surround yourself with them. Without the love and support of her family, Wilmer, her manager and her friends it is easy to see where Demi could have ended up, and she is right, love is necessary, and without it the majority of us would be lost.
“Heartbreak is unavoidable”
A lot of things happened at once for Demi. She was dealing with her breakup with Wilmer and at the same time she lost her Mamaw – or, her world as she calls her in the film. Her Mamaw was her mothers’ mom and her and Demi were very close. She describes her as loving and sassy, and it seems to me she might have been a lot like Demi herself.
It is obvious to me that the people she loves are the most important thing in Demi’s life, and losing two of them at the same time had to of been earth shattering. She talks a lot about how Wilmer was her rock for those six years they were together, and watching the film it is hard to understand why they broke up. They seemed so good together – and she clearly still loves him. However as I was reflecting on this, I started to think about their age differences, and how Wilmer had gone through a lot of milestones already in his life, and he did it on his own, and that made him grow as a person. And I think that Demi needed that time as well, to figure out who she is on her own, without someone to lean on.
She states in the video, “There are issues I haven’t conquered yet, that I know I won’t conquer if I’m relying on somebody else to take care of the loneliness”. Since her breakup with Wilmer she has moved into her own house and basically describes it as her place that she gets to decorate the way she wants and a place that she gets to call her own with her dogs. This is the first time she has ever been on her own, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to conquer those issues. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Demi and Wilmer back together in the future – after she finds who she is and conquers her demons. This house is creating her own little corner of the world to find her independence and to put that discovery into her music – Which you can hear on her new album “Tell Me You Love Me” – it is through and through her pouring her emotions onto paper and sharing it with the rest of the world.
“And Loneliness is brutal”
For this segment we are going to take it back to Demi’s childhood and the bullying that she dealt with at a very young age (I know I am ping-ponging a bit here). It was heartbreaking for me to hear what this young girl had to go through. I personally was never bullied, so for me to hear what she went through was gut wrenching. My mom works in a school and some of the things she tells me blows my mind. How can children be so cruel? There are so many ways to be bullied these days, physically, emotionally, through the internet, and kids are more depressed and anxious than ever before. Where does this cruelty come from? It scares the living shit out of me if I’m being honest, and it makes me wonder how so much hate can exist in this world.
Demi was bullied by what her sister describes as, “A group of girls who were pure fucking evil”, and after hearing what they did, I can’t disagree with her. Dealing with depression and anxiety and bullying all at once, Demi finally had enough and called her mom and told her, “I can’t do this anymore”. How incredibly sad is that? Regardless of your feelings about her, no one can wish that kind of mentality on a young child.
So to cope with her loneliness Demi turned to music. She learned to play the guitar and started to use music as an outlet for the things she was feeling. As someone who relies on music to get me through nearly everything, this struck a major chord with me. Demi states in the film, “I know what music can get you through, I know what music can do emotionally for somebody, because I’ve experienced it myself”.
So find that thing that does it for you, music, art, or anything else, and use it to make this world a better place. My hope is that this world can be a more loving environment, and more people can feel a sense of belonging and maybe not so lonely, because being lonely truly is brutal.
“I’ve learned the key to being happy is to tell your truth – And to be okay without all the answers”
Since hitting rock bottom, Demi has been working towards a healthy, clean and honest lifestyle. She has been sober for 6 years and continues to work on herself everyday. She does seminars and public speaking to talk about her struggles and how she was able to change her life for the better. She has surrounded herself with people who she can trust, and who have her best interest at heart. She is dating, having fun, having casual sex and saying fuck you to everyone who doesn’t like her way of life. She works out to meditate, and promotes a healthy body image for young girls and anyone else struggling with how they see themselves. She has been throwing herself into her music and pouring her heart and soul into her most recent album (which is kickass by the way).
Since going through what she has, she learned that pretending to be someone you aren’t just leads you down a destructive path, and now she is unapologetically herself. She doesn’t have all the answers, but she has learned an enormous amount of life lessons in her 25 years of life, and will continue to grow with every passing year.
This article was long, and how I felt about it was very obvious, I know. There was just no way for me to be unbiased in writing this. This documentary made so much sense to me, and inspired me more than I ever thought it would. I feel a real connection with her on some levels, and I feel for her on others. The body image and working out for meditation, the depression and anxiety, the love of a partner, and the fun that comes with having sex, the emotional connection with people, the mentality that music can save us, and the thirst to be better, these are all things that I connect with and I think a lot of you do too. I am working everyday to find myself and get to a point where I can be unapologetically myself. In the last few years I feel like I have learned who I am and found the people who enrich my life, instead of dragging me down. But I am only 22 and I know I have many more life lessons in my future – and that both scares and excites me.
In all reality I want to live a life that I am proud of, and inspirational people like Demi are helping to get me there. So my overall review is that this documentary isn’t sugar coated, its not pretty, and its not innocent. But neither is life. Life is real and emotional and dark and more often than not it doesn’t go the way we planned. But isn’t that what makes life beautiful? The things we go through, though painful at the time, shape us into the people we become and teach us the lessons to get us through life.
This article merely scratched the surface of the content within this documentary. There are many more issues covered, more stories of the things Demi did while using, who the drugs and spotlight made her become, her climb back to the top after hitting rock bottom, and who she has become in spite of it all. It is inspiring and entertaining and worth every minute.
So do yourself a favor and go watch this – because life is #Simplycomplicated.
(Disclosure: I do not own any of these pictures – they belong to Youtube and other media outlets)