Danny Gokey on wife’s death: “I apologize to everybody if they feel like it’s shoved down their face”

Danny Gokey, the 28-year-old American Idol 8 finalist whose wife died last summer while having surgery for a heart condition, has been criticized by some viewers for the show’s focus on his story. In an interview with MTV News, he apologized for that but also says that his wife’s death still “weighs on [his] mind a lot” and he’s “grateful” to producers for highlighting his story.

An articulate but callous response (and shameful illustration) comes from Idol blogger Rickey Yaneza, who wrote yesterday, “The pimping of his dead wife for sympathy votes comes with his family’s consent since they themselves are doing it — and fans are not reacting kindly to it.” Rickey added, “Just sing Danny. Stop your family from parading your dead wife around, and stop American Idol from doing the same.”

Also yesterday, Danny talked to reporters and addressed that sort of criticism. “People coming in from the outside view probably 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. … 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 and it’s causing hope for my life. I didn’t want to live anymore when she passed. But now, I have my mission set in stone of … who I am. 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,” he said, according to MTV News.

That question, by the way, was asked during the conference call by Comcast’s Victor Balta, but MTV News, following an increasingly common and obnoxious trend, pretended as if they talked to the contestants alone, writing, “We caught up with the first three singers…” Yeah, you and dozens of other people whose questions you take credit for, liars.

As to producers’ focus on him and his story, Danny said, “I do feel like I was highlighted. There’s no getting around that. I didn’t do anything to get that. I can say this: I’m grateful that they would do that. I have no control over it. I know everyone’s not gonna like me, but it’s a bummer when people are real mad about it, and I hope people can see past that. I genuinely just love to sing, and that’s what I want to do.”

Danny Gokey backlash? [Rickey.org]
‘American Idol’ Finalists Danny Gokey, Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver Speak [MTV News]
‘Idol’s’ Alexis, Michael and Danny Open Up [Comcast]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.