How Should We Feel about Corey Feldman?

Is the question that this article’s title poses patently ridiculous? Yes. Mostly. But late last week, mixed in with more important news items, was coverage of Corey Feldman’s performance of the song “Go 4 It” from his new album Angelic 2 The Core on The Today Show and the subsequent deluge of abuse leveled at former child star. The song, and its performance, are not good and demonstrated that Feldman is deeply out of touch with what is considered “good” or “cool” these days. The backlash was worse, prompting Feldman to pronounce that he is now deeply depressed and, if it were just a few years ago, he would have considered suicide. The situation presents a bit of a spiritual quandary regarding how we interact with performance on the internet. Feldman created something bad and presented it for public consumption; some abuse is to be expected, but to what extent? What, if any, feedback does Feldman deserve? I am of two minds.

1. FELDMAN IS A VICTIM

Corey Feldman, by most reports, most especially his own, had a traumatic childhood, even for a child actor. A childhood that included several instances of sexual molestation and emancipation from his parents at age 15. The possibility of Feldman growing into a well-adjusted adult was, at best, remote. While a number of child stars have gone on to show business success in adulthood, that has clearly not been in the cards for Feldman. There is still a great deal of love, mostly unironic, for Feldman’s movies from the 80’s, some of it justified (Stand By Me, The Lost Boys), some it inexplicable (The Goonies). It is understandable that Feldman might perceive the love of these properties as love for him and a desire to see him perform again in some capacity. If this is what he thought, he was, obviously, incorrect and learned this in the brutal fashion in which the internet has come to specialize.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a former child star wanting to pivot to a career as a pop musician; Jenny Lewis, for one, is great all the time. Our culture is, understandably, not particularly receptive to actors’ bands (sorry, Boxmasters), and if the leader of the band in question is perceived, perhaps accurately, to be a hasbeen, and the actual music produced is of a decidedly, almost comically, low quality, the feedback is likely to be harsh. In this case the feedback was harsh to the point of cruelty. In a way, Feldman was set up to embarrass himself. Judging from the album artwork, Angelic 2 The Core, was a DIY project, meaning there was no songwriting team, no label that could lose money by not telling Feldman “no,” and the producer was just some guy who works at the rented studio space; the members of Feldman’s backing band, the scantily-clad “Corey’s Angels,” likely do not care about the quality of the music and are happy enough to be on television; anyone involved with The Today Show was almost certainly happy enough to have a child star from the 80’s on to fill time.  No one told Feldman “Corey, listen. This music is really bad and you are going to embarrass yourself by performing it.” This news was broken to Feldman by the heartless denizens of the internet following his, really pretty hard to watch performance on a very popular morning chat show. No one was looking out for Corey Feldman’s emotional well-being here. He is not entirely unlike one of those poor, untalented souls on American Idol who was passed through the first round of auditions to the first televised round because of their “comedic potential,” believing that they were getting their shot when really they were to be presented for mockery. This is pretty shitty treatment, no matter who Corey Feldman is.

On the other hand…

Feel about Corey Feldman
2. FELDMAN SEEMS LIKE KIND OF A DOUCHE.

This is not a Leslie Jones situation. The persona that Corey Feldman has been cultivating for the last several years is pretty loathsome. As revealed in 2013, in a notorious, and kind of mean and shitty, exposé by Vice, Corey’s Angels are not just the members of Feldman’s band, but a bevy of attractive women who are paid to hang out at Feldman’s home and appear to be, if not actually, carry on sexual relationships with him. Feldman is clearly, and uncreatively, modeling himself upon Hugh Hefner, creating his own version of the Playboy Mansion and its attendant Bunnies. (here is a bit of the Corey’s Angels manifesto. He does not seem to realize that, though an invite to the Playboy Mansion was the height of celebrity cool when he was at the apex of his fame, public perception of Hefner’s lifestyle has, in the last decade or so, morphed and now most of us see it as pretty damn sad and entirely sexist. Added to the sadness of trying to imitate Hef is the fact that Feldman clearly does not have the funds to pull it off in any way.

Before Feldman’s Today Show performance, he describes his “Angels” as women whom he is helping to achieve their dreams. This seems unlikely. Becoming one of Corey’s Angels is almost certainly not a stepping stone to bigger, better things. My guess is that these women are struggling models and actresses who just want little attention and a small taste of a celebrity lifestyle and, in a last, desperate (or first, uninformed) effort to achieve that small amount of celebrity, have taken a, probably pretty cushy, gig pretending to want to fuck Corey Feldman. Feldman does not understand that this ruse is entirely unconvincing; he is not cool. Wanting people to think he is cool because he has a harem of young women who, ostensibly, hang out with him because of his surviving sex appeal and celebrity, is remarkably douche-y.

So does Feldman deserve these attacks? Probably not. For a one-time star who is not dead and seems to be doing okay financially, Feldman’s ongoing story seems mostly sad. Still, he seems dedicated to both asking for our sympathy and utterly repelling it with the character he has developed for himself. He is the tragic douchebag.

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