Lady Gaga epitomizes art in human form. She expresses her creativity in so many mediums. I wish I could express my creativity as bravely and as efficiently and effortlessly as she does. It’s flawless work that we see, but for that level of perfection, behind the scenes is intense discipline to her craft. And that’s what appeals to me—that intense desire to share her art into the world, no matter the criticisms, no matter the pain, no matter the cost, no matter how much she will be paid, no matter what—she shares because this is her gift to the world. I deeply respect Gaga’s work.
Recently the award shows for movies, television, and music have aired during prime time. The people in charge of all things movie stars and musicians call this the Award Season. I knew the movie was up for awards for music and for acting. I also knew there was controversy as to why the movie wasn’t awarded well at one of the ceremonies. The relationship between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, especially after she ended her engagement to another man, has been the center of gossip columns. I didn’t watch the Oscar’s but I did watch the clip of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performing their song, “Shallow” from the movie, A Star is Born. People talked about how steamy the performance was. I didn’t quite see the steaminess, but I definitely saw a connection. This performance fed the pop culture gossip.
Pop culture drama—I’m here for it. I mean some of my favorite past times include watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Mama June, I am Jazz, Counting On, Sister Wives, Real Housewives… need I out myself any further?
Yesterday, a Saturday morning, I woke up with sinus pressure and felt the need to rest. I asked my husband to check the Redbox app to see what was new. He said, “A Star is Born” is available. I said, “Reserve it!” We were going to watch the movie with Lady Gaga, the movie that has been in the public’s eye everywhere we turn. That movie, finally!
Now, I am not a movie fan. I legit prefer to watch an hour show, which is really about forty-two minutes without commercials, instead of a movie. I don’t have the patience for movies. Insert the “I became my mother” quote here. Subsequently, getting this movie on Redbox was a big deal, especially to my husband who loves spending time together watching movies.
Do not read any further if you don’t like spoilers.
Once the movie was secured as ours, I ran upstairs to get cleaned up to run errands. The kids are enrolled in the Awana Grand Prix competition and they needed to get a few items at the craft store for their finishing touches.
After that, we made a quick stop at Target and Whole Foods, and then we came home. I fixed a few appetizers while I prepped dinner and picked up the kitchen. We ate our dinner and then Dustin picked up the after dinner kitchen disaster.
It was Gaga time.
I wish you could have seen me. I looked like a little girl who had a gift in front of her and couldn’t wait to open in. I stood on my knees in the middle of our bed with a huge grin on my face. I just knew this movie was going to be a hit.
We hit play.
It started out slow.
Sadly, this was an omen of what was to come.
The whole plot line moved slowly and my attention struggled in spots.
My attitude plummeted and bitterness arose in me.
This movie was not what I expected it to be.
The moments in the movie that included the music were spot on and I was into it. The movie was not about the music, though, and music was few and far between. No, the bigger picture of this movie screamed loud and clear—This is not a romantic love story. This is a story of addiction cultivating, combusting, and leaving pain, sorrow, and emptiness in its wake.
As the movie opened we’re introduced to Jackson, Bradley Cooper’s character. We see him as a rock-n-roll, scruffy looking man, with intense blue eyes. To the unsuspecting eye, he looks weathered in a handsome, mysterious way. Jackson was on stage in front of an outdoor crowd playing a long guitar riff. I turned and looked at my husband half laughing because this brings me horrific memories of watching The Marshall Tucker Band on stage at Rib America in Indianapolis. Thank goodness the clip was short. Before that scene was over, we were shown a bottle of clear liquor on stage and him taking shots.
My gut feels something familiar.
Disappointment rose from deep within me.
Little did I know how intense this movie was going to get nor how eerily familiar the rest of this was going to be to me.
The next thing we saw was a complete scene change. We were introduced to Lady Gaga’s character, Ally. Ally is an adult living in a busy, loud home, with her father and his roommates. These men all seem very protective and very supportive of her. It appeared Ally worked in a restaurant, serving people. Her status in her job seemed to be low on the totem pole because as she prepared to leave at the end of her shift, she had to take the trash out, even though there were plenty of people in the kitchen who could have done so. I never fully understood where she worked and I think that was the point—she wasn’t anyone famous, special, and worked out of the public’s eyes. She had mousy brown hair, wore little makeup, and innocence to match her general plainness. As Ally walked away from us through what I assume is a parking garage tunnel, her larger than life voice reverberates and the title screen for the movie comes on.
I already know this story.
Humiliation arose from deep within the marrow of my bones.
We went back to Jackson. Clearly the concert was over and we saw him so drunk he passed out in his driver’s car. He asked the driver to find him a bar. The driver said something along the lines of I don’t think this is your place. Jackson didn’t care. He walks out of the car and straight to the bouncer. The bouncer recognized Jackson immediately. He told Jackson he didn’t think this was his type of bar. Jackson replies, “Is this a drag bar or something?” Bouncer said, “Yes.” Jackson replied, “Does it have alcohol?” Then the bouncer said, “Yes, the best,” and offered drinks on the house for him.
It was show night at the bar. But somehow Ally sang there. She made her face up to look the part of drag, including using tape for her eyebrows. She sings and of course Jackson falls in love with her immediately.
Here’s the thing—After she sings for the night, he takes her to another bar and she ends up punching someone. He takes her to the grocery store for peas and bandage wrap. He looks at her lovingly and adoringly. She shares this song she has written. Then he takes her home.
Interesting. Guy meets girl. Girl immediately just follows along with this man who has a story deep behind those blue eyes. Girl does things with Guy that she’d never do.
Run Ally, Run!
Ally’s dad didn’t care she was out late (yes she’s an adult) with a random man. Seemed weird to me that just because he was famous, he was deemed safe for his daughter? I don’t know about that. The dad didn’t care when the famous man sent a car for his daughter to pick her up and take her to his next concert.
Of course there’s the plot line of girl unnoticed gets noticed by a famous guy who then makes her famous. He gives her the world, or so we’re expected to believe. Remember this movie is so long.
Jackson gets Ally famous and noticed. It is sweet don’t get me wrong. The music scenes were great don’t forget.
Ally slides into her role of her home of origin though—caring for Jackson behind the scenes. She blatantly overlooked his drinking and drug use. She knew there was something wrong and didn’t confront it. Until the behind the scenes became public. He pissed himself on stage at an award’s show. Somehow Jackson made it to rehab.
And Ally… she reminded me of me. She reminded me of the many women who don’t realize they are in relationships with addicts. Addicts are so charming. They are so good at masking their demons in the beginning. They make life all about you and your freedoms and your wants and your desires. They are the best cheerleaders! They are the best support systems. We don’t realize just how disconnected addicts are from our lives or reality until it is too late.
This is where it gets even more real—Jackson was sober and clean after his stint at rehab. There’s this term we familiar with recovery talk know and that is dry drunk. It’s when a drunk is dry and not drinking, but hasn’t dealt with the demons driving the drinking behavior.
Jackson did not deal with the demons inside that caused him to become an addict.
And that hurts.
Because in the end we are to feel bad about the way the movie ends.
Instead I was pissed off.
I was pissed off because I was Ally.
I was pissed off because I was married to Jackson.
I was pissed off because what the viewership picked up on was this love story, not the addiction story.
I was pissed off because addiction is real. It’s very present. It’s curable. It’s a choice.
I was pissed off because so many people are oblivious to reality and often denying their own reality.
I was pissed because that was me.
My husband, good for the comic relief said, “I got you woke to the reality of addiction in this world.” Dude is so right. I did not realize how bad addiction is in this world until I experienced it first hand.
So all this hype from A Star is Born and about Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s romantic story, that is not what this movie is about. This story line is nothing but the artistic portrayal of the confines of a broken addict and a codependent marriage.
You see, addiction is always about the addict, even if he or she is in recovery. In the movie, Jackson decided the end of his addiction on his terms. But that’s how it is with addicted relationships. Addiction in a person ends on that person’s terms—either by death or by the choice to stay clean.
And that is the reality of being in relationship with an addict. Realizing their sobriety is theirs. We have no control over it. They must want sobriety for themselves more than we do. They must want what we want.
So that ending song of the movie—the one entitled “I’ll Never Love Again,” yeah. That’s the truth. I don’t ever want to love again knowing what I know now about brokenness.