Mariah Carey’s Send-Off to 2016: How Not to Handle Technical Difficulties

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Just thirty minutes before the ball was about to drop above Times Square, Mariah Carey was set to perform her top hits “Emotions” and “We Belong Together” for Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve New Year’s annual event. Fans and the media huddled together for hours in the 40 degree cold, excited to hear from the talented superstar. Soon after she stepped onstage, however, the crowd’s anticipation turned to outrage, disappointment and secondhand embarrassment when Mariah’s performance fell apart. Her inner earpiece had malfunctioned onstage, revealing her obvious lip syncing. In the final moments of 2016, Mariah’s NYC performance made countless headlines all over the nation.

Unfortunately, in the world of celebrity culture, there is an unrealistic expectation that celebrities are perfect and will always deliver a flawless performance, whatever the circumstances. As viewers, it would be unfair to alter our entire opinion of an artist based on inevitable mistakes. Fans, viewers and critics have to realize that celebrities are human beings too, capable of both good and bad days. Mariah Carey isn’t perfect, and cannot be expected to deliver a stunning performance every time. However, although Mariah is not entirely to blame for the trainwreck performance on Saturday night, viewers should be entitled to criticize her unprofessional attitude and inability to claim responsibility when situations go awry.

Members of Mariah Carey’s team claim that Dick Clark Productions intentionally sabotaged Carey’s performance, but this is an absurd — and frankly insulting — conspiracy theory created by Carey’s team to justify the disaster of a performance delivered. Instead of storming off and making false accusations, Carey should have kept a professional demeanor on stage and responded with class.

Viewers cannot excuse Mariah Carey’s unprofessional attitude and response during her performance. Millions of people around the world were tuned in to watch the star perform, with two million people freezing in the New York cold for hours, several of whom traveled to New York just so that they could get a glimpse of the famous Mariah Carey. However, Mariah seemed to forget about her basic responsibilities and the job she was paid to do. In frustration, the singer rudely snapped at her dancers, paced around, made a failed attempt to match the lyrics with her lips, and eventually stormed off stage, adding a sarcastic remark to the mix.

“[Dick Clark Productions] wanted a viral moment at any expense,” declared Stella Bulochnikov, Carey’s manager, to Entertainment Weekly.

The ugly truth is that Mariah Carey was simply not prepared. According to a production source, Carey decided not to show up to rehearsals, requesting a body double to take her place. Carey did not even perform a sound-check before she went up on stage. After performing for thirty years as one of the highest-selling artists of all time, one would assume that Carey would have at least known how to recover from a simple inner earpiece malfunction. Jenny McCarthy, co-host of Dick Clark’s Rockin Eve for several years, claimed that there were also monitors on the stage to blast out the songs to the musician in case of any technical difficulties. In addition, an initial investigation revealed that Dick Clark productions had no technical involvement with Mariah’s NYC performance. Blaming ABC and Dick Clark Productions for intentional sabotage is a slap in the face to all the hardworking individuals involved in running the New Year’s Eve show. Mariah Carey must take responsibility for her attitude, her lack of preparation, and take this experience as a lesson learned rather than throwing the entire blame at others.

“As the premier producer of live television events for nearly 50 years, we pride ourselves on our reputation and long-standing relationships with artists. To suggest that DCP would ever intentionally compromise the success of any artist is defamatory, outrageous and frankly absurd,” Dick Clark Productions shot back in a statement provided to CNN.

In a society where celebrities are under the constant scrutiny of the public, it is important to embrace their imperfections when understandable mistakes happen. At the same time, Mariah Carey is an inspiration to millions of young artists and fans alike. With an image as prominent and influential as hers, Carey should take her job as a role model seriously and act accordingly.

Summer Wong is a second-year biological sciences major. She can be reached at summerw@uci.edu.

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