A Star is Born: Lessons I Learned
By Jenee Cruise
The very first A Star is Born film was released in 1937, followed by remakes in 1954, 1976, and now 2018. Each version has its own unique features, but the general plot is about a male star who falls in love and helps launch the career of a female who has given up on ever making it big. All three previous films were nominated for Academy Awards; and after seeing the response to the latest version released on October 5, another will follow suit.
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, do not disappoint vocally or characteristically. The story is raw and relatable. Their characters, Jackson and Ally, each have their own struggles and deal with those struggles through one another. We see the truth behind fame, the struggles with addiction, and the insecurity behind beauty.
A Star is Born pulls back the curtain of celebrities’ lives and shows us what goes on behind the scenes. It is not ONLY stars who deal with the struggles we see in the film. Most-- if not all of us-- can relate to the struggle and pain laced throughout the film, and these are the lessons we should take away from them.
Fame, money, and power are not the keys to happiness
Jackson Maine (played by Bradley Cooper) is a talented and famous musician. He is also an alcoholic and drug addict with a tragic past and hearing condition (tinnitus). The film opens with him taking pills as he walks on stage for a show. Throughout the rest of the film, we see his constant battle with both drugs and alcohol. Ally (played by Lady Gaga) becomes the light in his life, but the joy she brings him eventually leads to his demise. Despite his love for her and for his music, there are few moments where Jackson seems truly happy and at peace with his life.
We often think that if only we had more money or more status, our lives would be better, but Jackson Maine shows us that is not always the case. In fact, many stars in real life confirm this fact. From Michael Jackson and Robin Williams to Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston, we see behind talent often lies pain. At the end of the day, we are in charge of our own happiness. Our joy is sacred, and we should treat it as such. Surround yourself with people and things that make you truly happy. Rid yourself of those who are toxic and hold onto those who make your heart sing. Make the best of every day in your life and embrace the unique cards in which you have been dealt.
Addiction is a disease
This is a controversial topic, but it needs to be addressed. A key theme in A Star is Born is how addiction destroys not only the lives of its victims but also the lives of their loved ones. There is a scene where Jackson apologizes to Ally for something he did while he was drunk. He is ashamed and knows he hurt and embarrassed her. She looks at him and tells him he has a disease, and it was not his fault.
Alcohol and Opioid addictions are caused by oneself, which often turns people away from feeling sympathy toward their victims. What we often do not realize is while the repercussions of alcohol and drug abuse are known before one takes a drink or takes the drug (making it self-inflicted); once it progresses to a certain point, the person no longer has control over themselves. They need to seek proper treatment in order to recover.
Never change who you are to please others
While Jackson’s main struggle is with addiction, Ally’s is with insecurity. After being told countless times she is talented but not pretty enough to make it as an artist, Ally almost gives up on her dream all together. It’s Jackson who saves her and gives her the confidence she needs. He constantly reminds her not only how beautiful she is but also how special her gift of spreading messages through songs is. As her career takes off, Jackson gets upset when he sees her conforming into something new in order to please her manager, label, and fans. He tells her to write her story and deliver it. That is enough. She does not need anything extra to make herself more amazing than she already is.
Surround yourself with these kind of people. People who will lift you up when the rest of the world is knocking you down. People who will remind you that you are good enough. It is okay to cut ties with those who make you feel worthless. It is also okay to remind yourself of these things if the right people have yet to come along. There is also a scene where drunken Jackson hurts Ally in the spot he had once formed a shield. He tears her down in a moment of weakness, but this time she does not fall. She keeps her head high and does not allow his words to hurt her. Be the light, in both your life and the lives of those around you. Be strong. Be you.
If you have not seen A Star is Born, I highly recommend you do so (but bring tissues). The story will leave your mind reflecting and your heart aching. The songs will leave your jaw dropped and lungs breathless.
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