Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve Meltdown and Our Entitlement Problem


During the Gilmore Girls revival series which aired on Netflix recently, we found one of its stars, the fearless millennial Rory Gilmore, floundering in her career. It’s inexplicable (at least to her) why this is happening. Why can’t she find a steady writing job so many years after graduating from Yale University? She was editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and wrote a piece for the New Yorker! Offers should be lining up, or so she believes.

After many months of wooing from a click bait website that emphasizes traffic over substance, and for which Rory has shown little more than contempt, she finally agrees to an interview. She walks into the meeting assuming the job offer is in the bag (they were wooing her, after all), but when asked by the editor for some examples of pieces she might write for them, Rory balks. She walked into her first job interview in months completely unprepared, without so much as one original idea which fit with the site’s voice. The editor quickly escorted Rory out of the meeting, making it clear she felt Rory had wasted her time. Soon, Rory found herself dazed, confused, and not a little bit outraged at how quickly she had seen a job offer move from a sure thing to trashed. How dare they rescind it?

I couldn’t help but think of Rory’s total lack of self-awareness while watching New Year’s Eve coverage this past weekend. There was a surprising amount of great content, including CNN’s Don Lemon getting drunk on tequila. But even more cringe-worthy than Lemon talking about his love life (or lack thereof) was a Times Square musical performance from singer Mariah Carey that ABC aired as part of its live coverage of the evening. The performance was so bad, the New York Times even covered some of the fallout:

“Mariah Carey suffered through a performance train wreck in Times Square on New Year’s Eve as malfunctions left her at a loss vocally during her hit song “Emotions,” struggling to reach notes and to sync the lyrics and music.

The trouble continued when she gave up on another of her best-known numbers, “We Belong Together,” while a recording of the song continued to play, a confirmation that she had been lip-syncing.

But on Sunday, a dispute erupted between Ms. Carey’s representatives and the veteran audio producer involved in the performance.

The producer, Robert Goldstein of Maryland Sound International, a company that has worked on the Times Square event for years, said in an email that there had been no malfunctions with the sound equipment he oversaw.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Carey said on Sunday that the singer was not at fault for her performance.”

While Carey may have blamed equipment for her difficulties, it was clear within moments of the start of her second song that she was as unprepared for her performance as Rory was for that job interview. Walking down the stairs, she could be heard giving her backup dancers instructions “just walk me down” and was fidgeting and adjusting her costume and jewelry throughout the performance, from the very beginning to its end. Throughout the song, Carey continued to give instructions to the backup dancers about how to lift her or which way to turn.

As the song began, Carey admitted into her mic more than once, “We didn’t have a sound check for this song.” It appears the track playing was not the one Carey intended to sing along to on live television. I’m not a professional singer by any means, but something tells me she might have rectified that problem in a sound check. And the confusion with backup dancers might have been remedied by something called a run-through. Despite her protestations to the contrary, it appears that Carey walked on stage fifteen minutes before the ball dropped without having ever practiced the routine she would be performing in front of millions of viewers.

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One of the reasons Mariah likely agreed to the gig on ABC was in order to promote her new show (part reality show, part documentary) Mariah’s World. On the first episode, which is the only one I bothered to watch, unpreparedness appears to be a pattern behavior for the star. Before the first show of her world tour, we see just how woefully unprepared the world-famous singer is for every realm of her performance: from sound check, to costumes, to choreography. How could the show have possibly gone on? Apparently it did, though I didn’t watch to find out. There is no way it turned out well. No matter how talented Mariah Carey is, she was simply too unprepared to perform, which meant her fans, who had paid a great deal of money for their tickets, were the ones who ended up disappointed.

After her New Year’s Eve debacle, one Twitter user remarked:

Perhaps this might serve as a lesson to Carey and others like her (Rory Gilmore, for example): There’s more to a job than just showing up. This entitlement mentality is often criticized as rampant among millennials (Carey may dress like a millennial, but she’s far older than one); but in fact it’s become endemic in every age group in our culture. A job, or even just a gig, isn’t yours to lose, it’s yours to keep. And there’s more to doing a job well than simply showing up. We might not all fail as fabulously as Mariah Carey did on national television, but if the last lesson we learn from 2016 is the importance of shedding that entitlement mentality, she will have done us all a very big favor.


  • valjean

    Nice reminder. In my first media production job 20+ years ago I was responsible for a costly failure that I swiftly attempted to blame on the PC I was using (they did crash a lot more back then!). My supe stared me down and told me with calm menace: “A true craftsman never blames his tools.”

    Not original, but by the way he said it it’s been burned into me ever since. Somehow I don’t think Ms. Carey has ever heard it. And preparation is only the start: I’ve since found “true craftsmen” do a great deal more.