Very skilled documentarians are able to align themselves with memorable subjects that leave a breathtakingly aura that won’t wash off immediately or ever.
The untimely and tragic death of the world-renowned visionary of primal remixes, Swedish DJ and producer, Avicii, whose real name is Tim Bergling, in the spring of 2018, was a huge blow to fans and people like me, who were just beginning to appreciate his unmatched talent.
The twenty-eight-year-old was found unresponsive in his room while vacationing in Muscat, Oman, and the cause of death is speculation, since the rumors of his alleged suicide haven’t been confirmed.
But the heartbreaking statement released by his family, days after the remixer’s passing, contains the sorrowful evidence of how the best times of our lives can gruesomely collide with the mechanisms, that make it nearly impossible to survive the tumultous ride:
“Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions. An over-achieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress. When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life to be able to be happy and to do what he loved most — music. He really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could now not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace. Tim was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight. Tim, you will forever be loved and sadly missed. The person you were and your music will keep your memory alive.
We love you,
The Tim Bergling Family”
Filmmaker, Levan Tsikurishvili, invested four years with Avicii, capturing the young musician’s transformative career, that took flight with the roaring hit single from 2011, “Levels,” and just escalated from there, with a steady roster that heightened his status as the ordained “Wunderkind,” that every iconic artist on the planet wanted to collaborate with for that “Midas Touch.”
The insightfully “uncensored” documentary, that’s presently streaming on Netflix, depicts Avicii sharing booth space with the likes of Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin, Fugees member, Wyclef Jean, Adam Lambert and Madonna, to name a few. And those brief scenes with well-established talents, were more than enough proof that DJ Avicii possessed the level of influence that surpasses the rulebook of most Millennial “influencers,” who demand more than they’ve earned.
Tim Bergling, was way ahead of his time, thriving in a futuristic zone that may have seemed like the key component for living your #bestlife, but in actuality it was the deadly recipe for a disaster that nobody tried to thwart.
Tsikurishvili wasn’t planning on releasing the final product to a wider audience after the demise of his most fascinating subject to date, but the universe has an interesting way of rounding up all the elements that create the perfect storm.
How do we take cover from the blinding lightening, and the thunderous soundtrack, that accompanies the uncanniness of how our greatest expectations can be magnified by the vividness of why we are currently murdering our prospects of survival, in a climate that won’t stop harassing us into the falsehood of seamless excellence.
The graphicness of Avicii’s torment doesn’t take long to surface, as we witness how his meteoric rise aligns him with a pompously savvy manager, Ash Pournouri, who positions his bedazzled tentacles for the glory of providing his client non-stop theatrics, with bags of money and an abusive itinerary as rewards.
The sobering dizziness of the young superstar’s rollercoaster trajectory will leave viewers envious and woefully empathetic.
That’s the main reason why “Avicii: True Stories” is required viewing, now more than ever.
Social media platforms do a lot of good, but there’s also a lot of destructiveness that comes with frequent engagements, and how those habits leaves users feeling inadequate and downright shitty, for not being able to replicate the blueprint of #dopeness, that more fortunate contenders are able to flawlessly demonstrate.
Just hours ago, a TV star who claims to be in close proximity to the Lord, posted her epic moment of signing the dotted lines to her new abode. It was an interesting addition to my Instagram stories, and while I was genuinely happy for her lottery win, there was also the curiosity of how her more impressionable fans will internalize the good fortune, that she’s so blatantly shoving into our faces with a winning smile.
Even the Lord’s sheep, with daily affirmations that are posted as cleansers, can pose a real threat to fragile souls, who are trying hard AF to mimic the requirements of a heady schedule, filled with ambitious items that could deprive us of our sanity.
But the heavy load makes our vision board light up darkened timelines with the verification of check marks.
The life and death of Tim Bergling was made possible by the assault of Avicii, and how the ones around him, preferred to ignore the bright red flags, that violently flapped with warning signs of how the worst case scenario was just a day away.
The struggle with alcoholism that led to stints in and out of the hospital to treat a condition that doctors suspiciously decided to manage with a plethora of prescription pills — is an infuriating realization of how fame can blind us into well-paid enablers.
Avicii was well aware of his abusive relationship with alcohol, and he was also nervous and concerned about how his dependency on his assigned cocktail of pills, was being delivered through the signatures of professionals, who he vocally assessed with casual hope that “they know what they’re doing.”
The urgency to stay at the top of his game was subtly and aggressively pushed onto the crumbling spirit of a genius, who spent almost every scene in the film about his life, helplessly trying to regain control of what was frighteningly slipping away.
The fast and furious pace caused him to rely on the mind-altering substances that eventually resulted in more hospital stays and emergency surgical procedures to repair ruptures that usually don’t happen to people in his age bracket.
But the over-worked million-dollar boy admitted on camera that his drinking problem developed from the crisis of not being able to give his fans what they want unless he’s blissfully checked out:
“If I don’t [drink] I gradually get more and more nervous before shows,” he says. “Alcohol just stops that.”
But as we all know, the health issues stemming from lethal dependency, are connected to mental deficiencies that remain unaddressed, which intensifies the duress of our erratic disposition.
Avicii’s stardom sounds exactly like what young people strive for, especially in this toxic climate that encourages the exploitative narrative of how we can’t ever succumb to the laziness of juggling only what we can healthily handle. We have to aim for the maddening chaos of dysfunction that we can tweet about in an effort to keep our “influence” activated.
We’re not all built to comfortably inhabit the roaring settings of “life in the fast lane,” even when our robotic posse wrongly assume that all that pain is for our own good.
There was never an end to the shows, even when I hit a wall.” “My life is all about stress.”
That confessional was the glaring theme in the documentary, and the emotionally-wrought director, who remarkably never anticipated the ending that played out months after completion, understandably has a difficult time seeing what turned out to be the final tribute:
“Watching it, I felt everything you can think of. It was a very emotional experience.”
Extreme exhaustion was the torment that kept Avicii activated to his withering body and soul. His disintegration was apparent to everyone in his circle, and we get to hear the comments that confirm what viewers are privy to; as one of his enablers admits that the starboy is becoming “ a shell of what he used to be,” while another observer, prophetically warns that he’s “a ticking timebomb.”
The whirlwind of volatility that encompasses the very highs and very lows is a balancing act that we demand from those who’ve sacrificed everything to be the superheroes that bleed from battered flesh.
As the strains of touring with no breaks to breathe, took its toll, the weary DJ reacted to his torturous state by uttering the words that sounded achingly fateful, in the aftermath of his cruel exit from the world that couldn’t contain him.
“It will kill me.”
In the midst of the million-dollar deals, and high-powered meetings that provided the endless gigs that mercilessly shipped his profitable client all over the world, the lusty manager who entertainingly impressed his witnesses, but most of all himself, with his expertise at holding out for the highest bidder — had to publicly admit the severity of a situation that he was helping to foster:
“Tim is going to die, with all the interviews, radio tours and playing. He’ll drop dead.”
Perhaps Pournouri wasn’t insinuating the direness of Avicii’s future, and just meant to highlight how lavish lifestyles always come at a high price. We see hashtagged phrases like “I’m dead,” “Kill me now!” “FML,” “I’m dying,” “I just died,” etc, and nobody believes that those declarations will transpire in real life.
The consequences for submitting to the un-realness of #dopeliving forced Avicii to bail from his set of shows in Las Vegas towards the end of the film. By now, his physical and mental capacity can barely prevent his shoulders from that defeated droop. His defiance and resignation drive his voice of reason, as he insists that he’s finally had enough.
His enablers quietly internalize what they don’t want to hear, and his manager vocalizes what they’re all thinking, when he explains that he’s bruised client “doesn’t understand the value of money.”
Avicii replies by expressing how it hurt to hear that. He also goes further by acknowledging the pain of abandonment from those who know better than anyone how much of himself he’s invested, without the compulsory self-care that could’ve saved his life.
It was heartbreaking to watch well-placed leeches, numbly accommodate the complete breakdown of a human being, who didn’t deserve to be tasked to the max without the intervention of the ones who were supposed to love him enough to assuage his fears — and provide the security he was literally begging for — without filters.
The final frame of the film doesn’t allude to the death of Tim Bergling, but rather showcases the major adjustments that he made in order to give himself a fighting chance at living out the very long days ahead — on his own terms.
After getting rid of his manager, we get the treat of watching our hero embrace the freedom of mixing gems in his studio without the stress of endless touring, as well as the visual of a young and stronger twenty-something frolicking under the Madagascar sun, as he indulgences in the wins that he rarely had the time to enjoy.
The scenic end is the stuff that Hollywood strives to achieve for the sake of hopeless romantics, but the complexities of realness is the reason why Instagram pays a shitload of dough to “influencers” who’ve mastered the techniques necessary to keep the fantasy alive.
Avicii died a painful death, and the director of his swan song summed up this awful loss, with the symbols of why these times are killing us, with venomous seduction.
“I don’t think he knew what it takes to be as successful as he became.” “He was never comfortable as the center of attention. He felt stardom is something that human beings have made up. It’s nothing real.”
It isn’t real.
The pressure to be all that you can be is becoming the epidemic that nobody is freaking out about. We expect an eighty-five-year-old cancer survivor to continue her streak of inhuman capabilities, and when she falters, it’s breaking news. We can’t get enough of the brilliance of pre-teens who are already producing movie scripts for Hollywood, that see the light of day. We are willingly to almost fall off cliffs or opt for a plane ride with an inexperienced pilot to give our followers the #bestview to our #bestlives.
We have adopted the mindset that success has to be swift and overpowering, anything less won’t do. And if it comes with as little output as possible — even better!
Avicii was special with his work ethic and otherworldly tendencies that made him uniquely human.
But he leaves behind a world that won’t learn from the demons that ended his life. A world that will instead exacerbate everything that he fought against.