BY SARAH OLSEN ’18
“I went on like a bender for like two months where I was using daily. There was one night where I used a bunch of coke and I popped a few Xanax bars and I started to choke a little bit, my heart started racing, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I might be overdosing right now.’”
In her new documentary “Simply Complicated,” singer Demi Lovato takes viewers on a journey through her life’s struggles with alcohol, drugs and eating disorders. The documentary, released Oct. 17 on Youtube, comes a month after Lovato’s latest album, “Tell Me You Love Me,” dropped and currently has over seven million views.
In an interview with Billboard, Lovato said the decision to create the documentary came from celebrating her 25th birthday this year.
“I wanted to share this experience with my fans,” Lovato said. “It’s a quarter of a century, it’s an important year to me ... I’ve gone through a couple breakups and I went through a lot in my past, so being able to talk about those things and explain them to my fans is fulfilling — and it’s kind of relieving.”
In “Simply Complicated” Lovato does not hold anything back from her fans. She faces the camera as she bluntly describes how her issues began, some originating in childhood and others during her teen years. Photos, videos and interviews with family members and friends, including Nick and Joe Jonas, are combined with Lovato’s narrative to illustrate her struggles.
Lovato does not make excuses or attempt to gloss over the gritty details of her turbulent lifestyle as a rising celebrity. She begins “Simply Complicated” saying, “I actually had anxiety around this interview, because the last time I did an interview this long I was on cocaine. It was [for a video] called ‘Staying Strong.’” This statement may be a surprise to Lovatics — Lovato’s fan base — as she was advocating for and claiming to be practicing a sober lifestyle during this time.
One of the most powerful moments of the documentary is when Lovato, riding in a car with her manager Phil McIntyre, admits to purging a few nights previously. The moment is one of Lovato’s most human in the documentary as she openly acknowledges that she hasn’t yet conquered her eating disorder. Her honesty is commendable as Lovato shows viewers how long and difficult the road to recovery can be. Lovato’s decision to be honest about her struggles is a monumental choice. Not only is she fighting against the stigma around addiction and eating disorders, she is also letting viewers know that they’re not alone.
Lovato underscores this message with her choice in media platform for her documentary. “Simply Complicated” was released on Youtube as a Youtube Original. By abstaining from distributing the documentary to Youtube Red or another streaming service that charges its customers, Lovato ensures anyone with a Wi-Fi connection can view the film.
Another topic Lovato doesn’t shy away from is romance. She discusses her relationship with her ex-boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama, star of “That 70’s Show,” explaining why the couple broke up and her current feelings for him.
“I think my heart’s always with Wilmer,” Lovato says. “I think it was with Wilmer, it is with Wilmer, and I think it will be with Wilmer, because you don’t share six years with somebody and not give them a piece of your heart.”
In addition to exploring her past, Lovato also discusses her current dating life. The singer uses the dating app, Raya, and describes a recent date gone wrong. Another highlight of the documentary is when Lovato comments on her sexuality.
“I am on a dating app with both guys and girls,” she says. “I am open to human connection. So whether that’s through a male or a female it doesn’t matter to me.”
Between the heavy topics of addiction and romance, viewers are treated to a behind the scenes look at the making of Lovato’s latest album. Footage of Lovato working in the studio shows not only how much work goes into an album, but also showcases Lovato’s talent as she perfects her songs line by line. The behind the scenes vibe continues as the camera follows Lovato through her daily life. From relaxing in dressing rooms to close moments with her mother, everything is bared for the world to see.
“Simply Complicated” sets Lovato apart from other artists with its overall accessibility and her honesty sets a high standard for others in show business. Not only is Lovato taking control of her life, but she’s inspiring others to do the same. Lovato is not just “Unbroken” or “Confident,” she’s “Simply Complicated.”