Recently I’ve been mildly obsessed with the recent remake of the movie A Star is Born. I went to a noon matinee by myself and literally sobbed all the way through until the credits were finished rolling. I have listened to the soundtrack and watched videos of the songs almost every day since then.
I have been asking myself the question of why and how this movie reached in and grabbed my heart so powerfully. Then last weekend I watched Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga sing the song “Shallow” at the Academy Awards. Watching them sing together, their faces and bodies leaning in toward each other and the microphone, it occurred to me that Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Jackson Maine in this movie is a powerful antidote to the rampant toxic masculinity that is viral in white Western American culture right now.
Cooper’s portrayal of his character and his the depth of his suffering, his addiction, grief and trauma as well as his capacity to love Ally wholeheartedly, revealed a poignant vulnerability that is rarely shown in men by entertainment media. Both of the main characters in this film had a tough shell on the outside and a tender sweetness on the inside. The intensity with which they poured out love toward each other was palpable.
As a director, Cooper also defied toxic masculinity in the way that he portrayed the main character’s apparent ease and comfort in being in a drag bar. Moreover, the drag queens were also portrayed with a dignity not often seen in Hollywood’s caricature culture.
With a little sheepishness, I’m savoring the pleasure of a schmaltzy love story. And feeling grateful for its tenderness in this harsh world.