To musicians like Bob Dylan or John Lennon, legendary music producer Phil Spector was the go-to genius who could help make their recordings phenomenal. To the public-at-large he is a deranged individual who should have never been allowed out of his castle. To victim Lana Clarkson's family, he is no doubt evil incarnate.
But to Nicole Audrey Spector, he is simply Dad.
Amid the macabre circus surrounding Phil Spector and the angry mobs calling for his head, Nicole stands out simply by virtue of her normalcy. An up-and-coming writer, she published her first book earlier this year titled, Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray. It's a funny and cleverly written mix of the classic Oscar Wilde novel Dorian Gray with elements of E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Gray. Nicole's words come across as raw and fearless, earning her praise from even the most seasoned novelists.
Still, even as she tries to move forward and build her own life, there is always a dark cloud hovering nearby.
Most recently, in response to HBO's film Phil Spector, Salon.com published a piece written by Nicole titled, "That's not my Dad." In it, she describes with gut-wrenching detail, the moment she learned her father had been charged with murder. It's obvious that the shock was indelible, nevertheless Nicole makes it clear that she believes in her father's innocence.
With hordes of cynics waiting to pounce, baring her soul was a brave move. Comments ranged from supportive to downright cruel. Most were expressing their anger that she spoke out about the film in spite of the admission that she did not watch it. But to me, it was clear that her beef with the film had more to do with the ethical question of naming the film Phil Spector even though "Phil Spector" was not consulted. This is not an uncommon reaction. When filmmakers take dramatic license with real-life events, it leaves them open to this sort of criticism. However, the level of insults lashed out at Nicole seemed to be an effort to punish her for not having had a terrible life with her father. This reaction makes it clear that money and fame cannot shield the offspring of someone serving time in prison from being stigmatized. In "That's not my Dad" her pain is palpable:
He is a prisoner, and this is to be no one in the cruelest and most isolating way. Everything hurts.
I can understand Nicole's need to defend her father, and I admire her courage in doing so. Afterall, by now she knows how some people will react. Why should anyone be surprised or angry by her very human response? Guilty or innocent, having a parent in prison creates a great deal of emotional trauma all by itself, but when that parent is world-famous it must add an extra layer of hell. The pain felt by a prisoner's family is not easily shared in public. Out of fear of being viewed as unsympathetic toward the victim, they isolate themselves:
The murder trials and intensive media coverage that followed -- his first trial was the first to be televised live on CourtTV since O.J. Simpson's -- were an exhausting and convulsive reiteration of the trauma. I was usually numb or angry or having some secret panic attack in the unfeeling fluorescence of a movie theater bathroom.
This young lady is totally blameless. Whether people agree with her views or not, it comes from a pure place. She is not living off a trust fund, and her loyalty to her father was not bought. On the contrary, Nicole Audrey Spector is a talent in her own right, and something tells me she will continue to rise and find a way to channel the experience into her writing.
Who knows, given the chance she might provide the world a literary masterpiece.
Follow Cilla McCain on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CillaMcCain