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A Picture Says 1000 Words: Part Deux

February 21, 2009

I love research.

Many people (i.e., not just “haters” and VFTW), including big Idol bloggers Rickey and MJ, as well as EW’s Idolatry team of Slezak and Baldwin, were pretty put off by uh, this:

Danny Gokey and Sophia Gokey...why oh why did this guy hold this up?

The two men sitting on the off-stage waiting room were described as “Danny Gokey’s Family and Friend”. Many bloggers are reporting the guy holding the photo in question as Danny Gokey’s brother.

Not so. But he IS family. And depending on how you look at it, it will either clear things up…or not…

I decided to do a little research. It’s not that hard, really, just go perusing around on MySpace. (This literally took all of 7-10 minutes.)

Ok. First. I took this photo from, just because it was the last still shot I had seen of the guy:

Danny Gokey Backlash: From Rickey.orgAnd then I fished around on MySpace, mainly the page set up for Sophia’s Heart Foundation. 

Sophia's Heart Foundation MySpace

Does the second friend ring a bell? Ivan Santiago.

Ivan Santiago

As on public record, and displayed in a previous post, Ivan Santiago is Gokey’s brother-in-law. He is also a founder of Sophia’s Heart Foundation, which is also stated on his wife’s MySpace page.

My life has been forever altered this past year 2008 when my sister and best friend, Sophia passed away unexpectedly while having heart surgery. She was the most beautiful person inside and out. She dedicated her life to kids. When she passed my brother-in-law, myself, my husband and my other sister Damaris committed to leaving her legacy. That is where Sophia’s Heart Foundation was birthed. This past year has been tough but I am looking forward to the future.

So while Gokey has received considerable backlash concerning the continuous mention of his wife’s death, leaving many to question whether or not it is his doing or if his tragic story is just another cog in manipulative Idol producers’ schemes (or both), maybe this “helps” address some of those questions.

  • Perhaps Santiago was paying tribute to his sister-in-law in a not-so-subtle way, unbeknownst to Gokey? Maybe his wife told him to do it. Maybe he wanted to do it. Who knows.
  • Would a family member do something like this without his knowledge? I would like to think so, but then again, who knows.
  • Does the identity of the person holding up the photo change the fact it was held up for the cameras during Gokey’s performance?
  • Did the producers tell Santiago and / or Gokey to do this?
  • Perhaps it was a calculated move on both Gokey and Santiago’s part, which would seem either very likely or unlikely, depending upon how you look at it. I would imagine Gokey was already aware of the backlash he was receiving before Wednesday night’s show? Again, who knows. 
  • Would this be considered a “plug” for Sophia’s Heart Foundation? It was just a photo. No one was wearing t-shirts with the charity’s logo on it, nor did Santiago hold up say, a flyer for next Sunday’s Hearts of Compassion event. However, it does raise some eyebrows considering eliminated contestant Ricky Braddy’s family / fans were forced to take The Braddy Bunch website down after receiving a cease & desist letter from Fox and Fremantle Media.

Hey, I’ve got a killer idea. Maybe American Idol should DISSUADE people from holding up photos, or signs or wearing t-shirts proclaiming the love for their family member or favorite contestant. Would that level out the playing field? Probably not. By this point in the competition, family members of certain contestants were most likely trying to do their part to raise visibility because a lot of the contestants are screwed even more so than before due to a lack of screen time. By basically taking 3 contestants from each of the three groups, you pretty much have no shot in hell and can only hope to be asked back by the judges for the Wildcard round.

I have no problem with Gokey’s charity. I think it’s great he’s trying to do something good. As long as there is no evidence it is tied to Faith Builders International Ministries, I’m totally down with it. But I am curious to see how Idol deals with this backlash once the Top 12 round begins. Are they the ones to be blamed here? Or is Gokey helping them out? Perhaps he should have just been more direct with producers about it in the first place. Maybe taken the David Cook route…

Maybe Ryan Seacrest should have asked him point-blank about the photo in the morning after interview on his radio show.

Of course, people do deal with grief differently. I think we’ve all come across people who internalize something very painful and others who invite the world in whenever possible. And Idol does milk things for all they’re worth. (Hell, Season 4’s Anthony Federov probably still gets called Trach Boy.)

Someone DID ask about the photo…but in a round-about way:

S. Gidlow    Yes.  I noticed last night that there was a tribute paid to your wife because they showed a photo of her; one of your friends had one.  Do you keep a memento with you when you perform of her?

D. Gokey    Keep a what?

S. Gidlow
    A memento, a photo or something like that?

D. Gokey    No, I really don’t.  But the thing is, she’s in my heart.  You can never take that away.  I really don’t hang on to charms or anything like that or any mementos.  I have, obviously, pictures at home, but she’s so deeply engrained in my heart and mind that she’s a part of who I am.

(So, did he know about the photo or not?)

Here’s another excerpt from a press conference with Gokey after he made the top 12:

 Q: How much of your wife’s passing is being played to draw sympathy votes?

Danny: People coming in from an outside view probably won’t think it’s too much, but it’s only been seven months since she’s passed. This is who I am. It’s not that I throw it in people’s faces, but I get asked about it all the time, especially like right now. I’m talking about it at this point. In a previous interview that I did today, everybody wants to hear what I have to say. It weighs on my mind a lot though because honestly, this is a sob story I don’t want. I don’t want this story, but it is shaping my life and it’s causing hope for a lot of people knowing that it’s causing hope for my life. I didn’t want to live any more after she passed. So now, I have my mission set in stone of what I want to portray myself as and just who I am. I don’t have to portray myself as anybody, but as far as being me, but there’s a fun side to me that’s going to come out. And so, people have to stay tuned in. I apologize to everybody if they feel like it’s shoved down their face, but it’s so fresh in my mind.

Of course, maybe Idol does NOT want Gokey to publicize his charity on the show, because it is against the rules. But hey, focusing ad nauseum on his “tragic back story” is perfectly acceptable? Here’s an excerpt from this article in the Seattle Times blog regarding Gokey’s eyewear (also from the press conference).

Aha! I just stumbled upon the transcript of an interview with Gokey on Thursday where he talks about the glasses:
JournalistWere those different glasses you had on last night, or have you had those all along?
D. GokeyYes, those were a different pair that I wore on the TV show. I’ve taken pictures with them, but I never wore them on TV yet. I have a couple more pairs that I want to wear, but they’ve not been approved because our logo is on them. So, I’m kind of disappointed. I’m hoping that somehow, it can be worked out where I can wear more glasses because I love glasses.

What does he mean by “our logo“? Does his church make eyeglass frames?

Argh. Designer eyeglasses. Dead wife. Charity. Church. Photos. I cannot recall a contestant being this divisive or controversial, nor do I recall a contestant picking up such a large fanbase even before the voting rounds began.

Guess we will have to see where it all goes. But it does make things interesting.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer permalink
    May 10, 2009 5:52 pm

    Danny Gokey is an inspiration! Of course hes going to talk about this wife. she just died. Just like someone said before Megan talked about her son,Chris talked about his wife,Allison talks about her.And Adam about his broadway shows. It makes them who they are today. Personally I think Danny should win. He has an amazing voice. Adams too full of himself and chris well his voice is okay but not the greatest. people just really need to grow up. And stop thinking that Danny uses his wife to get votes.

  2. koko permalink
    April 27, 2009 9:55 pm

    okay, here’s the thing, Danny shares his story about his wife because as he said, his wife IS IN HIS HEART. He wants his wife to be with him all the time. You can’t be mad or make weird conclusions that he wants sympathy votes just because he mentions his wife. You can tell that he dedicates all his songs FOR HIS WIFE. He sings from the heart. His wife IS in his heart. It’s his way of coping. That’s just how much he truly and deeply loves his wife.

  3. Sandra permalink
    April 16, 2009 1:26 pm

    Your blog wasn’t as horrible as the others I have read. All I wanted to say is that, the controversy you talk about is out there because of your blogs. Noone sees anything wrong until someone comes up with an idea, speculation of some sort and distorsion of the truth. Ivan loved and loves Sophia as a sister. That picture does represent SHF in a way. Hey! free plug for the foundation, who cares!! Well done. Sophia’s whole family is supporting Danny. Outsiders make up stories of him pimping her or what not and it is plain wrong. you guys don’t know his heart. PS. There was no smirk when he hugged Del Toro. Why dont you walk about the evil eye she was giving him when she lost? also how she didn’t even hug him back… Come on! did she think she could compete with his vocal talent? lol

  4. wow permalink
    April 15, 2009 9:14 pm

    ur mean

  5. spinshack permalink
    April 13, 2009 11:00 am

    Oh look ^^ Chris Crocker showed up.

  6. April 12, 2009 5:10 am

    Shut up!! his wife just died.. of course hes going to talk about it!! just like anoop always talks about his origin and kris talks about his wife and how megan talks about her son and allison how she is so young and how everyone mentions scott has a challenge in the competition….. how michael would mention his job… it defines who they are!!! DUde get over yourself!! and I dont love danny cuz i feel bad for him cuz i do! i bet it sucks what happened to him.. I love him cuz he can sing!! and is so talented.. and charming! So shut up!! and honestly kind of heartless to just say hes doing that to gain votes!

  7. spinshack permalink
    February 22, 2009 12:49 am

    Ah the whole thing smells of pure ruse. Ill smelling ruse at that. Those fug goggles are somehow related to the church? Yeah, Idletard, I caught that ring flash – Hokey-Gokey is a real gimmick man.

  8. February 21, 2009 7:26 pm

    He had stopped wearing his wedding ring but suddenly it was back for the show this week, so that he could point so ‘meaningfully’ at the camera with it. What does that tell you?

  9. sicarose permalink
    February 21, 2009 5:06 pm

    A question from a recent interview with Danny. I thought that the answer was very well put by Dan.

    Do you worry that viewers might think you’re trying to play the sympathy card by talking about your deceased wife?

    People who come from the outside view probably will think it’s too much. But it’s only been seven months since she’s passed. This is who I am. And it’s not that I throw it in people’s faces, but I get asked about it all the time. Honestly, this is a sob story I don’t want. But it is shaping my life, and it’s causing hope for a lot of people. And not only that, it’s causing hope for my life … There’s a fun side to me that’s gonna come out. I apologize to everybody if they feel like it’s shoved down their face, but it’s so fresh in my mind.

    • TopIdol permalink
      February 21, 2009 5:10 pm

      I’ll throw that in. (The only reason I didn’t was because it had been already been pretty widespread)

      My point is, there is backlash. And Idol can control this sort of thing.

      I just wish he would have been asked about the photo. I think that many viewers just thought it was a bit over-the-top.

  10. Sane Jason Fan permalink
    February 21, 2009 3:53 pm

    Well, I still think he’s going to win. Kara and Paula have already informed us that anyone who doesn’t love Gokey is heartless. And the way the producers have set this season up any contestant who hopes to compete needs a backstory even more tragic than Gokey’s. I don’t think anybody has one.

  11. Sane Jason Fan permalink
    February 21, 2009 3:28 pm

    Gokey has to be at least somewhat complicit in all this unless you want to believe that the video of his proposal fell out of the sky and an Idol producer just happened to trip over it. And all he would have to say when asked is that he doesn’t want to talk about his recent tragedy. Last season David Cook never allowed any discussion of his brother on the show and you can’t tell me the producers didn’t ask. I’m sure other contestants have had their own sad stories that we never heard about.

    Nope, I’m afraid Gokey has decided to use his wife’s death as a get out the vote strategy and when you invite people in on an issue like this it becomes fair game for commentary. You sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.

    • TopIdol permalink
      February 21, 2009 3:37 pm

      I enjoying raising the questions, you know?

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