If you haven’t seen the movie (Honey, it’s been out for well over a month) don’t say I didn’t warn you! Massive spoilers ahead!
Before you @ me, please understand that I was a wreck watching this movie. I couldn’t contain the amount of tissues that descended around my form as I sat on the edge of my seat in my local Alamo Drafthouse. My friend was worried I was dry-heaving, I was weeping that hard. I am an unapologetic crybaby and A Star Is Born turned my tears into tidal waves. Despite its beauty, the acting, the music, and my histrionics, I still left the theater...unsettled.
At first, I couldn’t even call it anger. Something was lingering but I didn’t know what it was. Friends and family discussed it with me and we all settled on the fact that it was a moving movie with a moving soundtrack. But right underneath the narrative was the now obvious problem: love is not tragedy.
Too often, movies glamorize romance as tragedies. Something beautiful descends into madness or is ripped apart by society or trampled on by some other antagonist. It’s a story older than cinema — a fable of sorts that only encourages the idea that enduring harm and infatuation are the main tenets of a truly epic love story. Pardon my french, but how fucking irresponsible is that?
After Dave Chappelle’s character, Noodles, explains to Jackson Maine (played by Bradley Cooper) that Ally (played by Lady Gaga) was his “out” from a business that encouraged his addiction and destructiveness, two scenes later we see them get married in Memphis. I’m sure his character cared deeply for her, but hearing Ally was an “out” was the trigger for the proposal. No relationship should be built on the premise that one person is solely responsible for saving the other. That’s not love, it’s codependency.
In fact, that’s what they had — a codependent relationship. Earlier in the movie, Ally jokingly says “He just does that sometimes,” after Jackson collapses off the couch from being too high and too drunk at an afterparty. She was aware of his addiction but never set any boundaries with him, other than “I’m not going to go looking for you” when he disappeared after a bender. Maybe she felt like she couldn’t because he was her mentor as well as lover. Maybe she didn’t want to lose him. She wasn’t responsible for him, but no one around him ever put their foot down about his antics. He needed to do that for himself, but by marrying her, whether he wanted to or not, he made his massive problem hers.
It is unfair to make our mental health someone else’s priority.
In between me blowing my nose and wiping my eyes, I couldn’t help but think how beneficial therapy would have been for the two of them. They made the classic mistake of confusing infatuation with love, and confusing that with healing. It is unfair to make our mental health someone else’s priority. It is unfair to make our healing someone else’s priority. But more often than not, we convince ourselves that someone’s presence will fix us without considering the pressure we’ve put on them to perform an impossible miracle. Ally and Jackson had amazing chemistry. Their music was magic. They had a deep connection. They also both had a lot of unchecked pain and destructiveness (Jackson’s more obvious than hers) that they tried to wish away with their wedding instead of work away with a therapist.
But maybe you think it’s “just” a movie. It is and it isn’t. We’ve been conditioned to believe that a woman should be “ride or die,” never questioning the actions of our partners let alone holding them accountable for things that do us harm. How many women do you know that are in toxic relationships, “waiting it out” with financially, physically, emotionally, or mentally abusive partners? How many women are in prison for taking the fall for their partner? How many women like Ashley Kavanaugh and Julie Chen and Camille Cosby stand by their man as the good wife when his actions have so callously ruined people?
Sure it’s a movie, but for far too many women and for far too long, it’s been their lives. Let’s stop glossing it up as true love and call it what it is — trauma.
Jordan A. Maney is a San Antonio-based wedding planner and owner of All The Days Event Co. She she started her company as a planning haven for all the couples the industry chooses to ignore. Instead of just making a brand, she's building a community. Find more of her sass, humor, and Southern hospitality at allthedaysweddings.com.