A Star is Born romanticizes toxic relationships

Film overlooks troubling elements of romance

via GIPHY, by Josh Granovsky

Although Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born achieved widespread praise for its heart-wrenching story and talented cast, its reaction risks glossing over the conspicuous presence of toxic relationships.

The film follows two characters—Ally, a talented singer and musician, and Jackson, a country-rock music star—as they navigate their love for each other while dealing with the burdens of excessive fame and addiction.  

Since the film’s release, critics and social media users alike have praised Jackson and Ally’s romance. However, Jackson’s abusive behaviour and Ally’s continual forgiveness expose the downfalls in their relationship.

Ally rises to fame as Jackson begins his fall from the limelight. While Jackson continues to express discontent with Ally’s success, she continues to forgive and support him time and again. 

Jackson is emotionally and physically unavailable due to his drug and alcohol addiction, yet Ally repeatedly excuses his destructive and unhealthy behaviour patterns.

Jackson is emotionally and physically unavailable ... yet Ally repeatedly excuses his destructive and unhealthy behaviour patterns. 

A Star is Born makes it look like Ally puts up with Jackson because of true love. The audience is sucked in by Ally and Jackson’s twist-of-fate beginnings and mesmerizing chemistry, making it hard to see why she supports him at the expense of her own success and happiness. 

Ally continually tries to save Jackson, despite his general unwillingness to change and multiple attempts to sabotage her career—this is especially prevalent when he almost succeeds by going on a drunken rant at an awards show.

The couple’s love appears so striking and pure that it’s hard to notice their relationship’s unhealthy dynamic. Without doubt, Jackson is fighting his own demons—but as a result, Ally’s continuous sacrifices are overshadowed by his heartbreaking downfall and struggles.

A Star is Born teaches us Ally is in the business of saving Jackson. She cancels her tour to take care of him and then lies to him to save his ego. With Jackson’s career falling to pieces, she sacrifices a massive milestone to make him feel better, even though he was never happy with her achievements in the first place.

A Star is Born teaches us Ally is in the business of saving Jackson. 

This film puts forth an idealized yet dangerous vision of what relationships look like. It suggests women should stay in relationships even after facing rampant abuse because it’s true love. 

It also presents the notion that love has to be high-risk in order to be passionate. The stakes of Jackson and Ally’s relationship are high because he’s a recovering addict and she’s a rising superstar constantly in the public’s eye. Their relationship puts their careers, emotions, and lives on the line.

Even though A Star is Born is a remake of a story from the 1930s, it’s still the responsibility of its creator—in this case, Bradley Cooper—to be held accountable for the toxic relationship it presents.

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