What A Star is Born Gets Right About Toxic Masculinity

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What A Star is Born Gets Right About Toxic Masculinity

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

W

e’ve seen this story countless times before. An alcoholic artist in the decline of his career mentors a talented woman, and when she succeeds, goes into a fit of jealousy-fuelled self sabotage. In a world that is coming to terms with toxic masculinity and its effect on women, was it really necessary to remake A Star is Born, a film that glorifies the very traits we’ve spent the last one year examining? Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut makes those efforts and succeeds, if only partially, in giving us a nuanced view of a relationship marred by emotional abuse and the effects of stardom.

Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a tinnitus-suffering, alcoholic singer-songwriter, while Lady Gaga plays Ally, a waitress who aspires to be a singer. Jackson first meets Ally in a drag bar, where she is singing “La Vie En Rose”. With an intensified call for sensitive portrayal of the LGBTQ community in films, the bathtub scene, where Ally puts makeup on Jackson’s face and paints his nails, seems written to script. It’s a poignant sequence which cements the fact that the masculinity portrayed on screen is different from the versions we have come to expect from Hollywood.

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