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‘A Star Is Born’ And The Unfair Burden Placed On Women In Toxic Relationships

Culture
Photo Via Warner Brothers.

It’s the same partner who’s always to blame

Spoilers for A Star Is Born ahead.

By now, you've likely heard about Bradley Cooper's remake of A Star Is Born, starring Cooper and Lady Gaga. This is the fourth retelling of this particular story, and the original premise is one centered around the relationship between a fading star and a rising talent; it's a narrative that normalizes toxic relationships and perpetuates the notion that a woman is somehow responsible for the personal and professional well-being of her grown male partner. And while the 2018 version works within these problematic confines, it is a different, more self-aware version of this story, one that attempts to shift the burden of responsibility back onto the man.

Cooper's version tells the story of an aging rockstar named Jackson Maine, who discovers a young songwriter named Ally (Gaga, of course) while she's singing at a drag bar. The two immediately embark upon a whirlwind creative and romantic partnership that eventually skyrockets Ally to fame. However, as her career flourishes, Jackson begins to grapple with both his own professional spiral into irrelevance and worsening addiction problems, which threaten to derail Ally's burgeoning stardom in the process. 

This foundational premise—that for a woman to thrive, a man must fail—is emblematic of the way in which we often put the responsibility for a man's personal struggles onto the women closest to them, as can be seen in the way in which, recently, Ariana Grande was blamed by fans for the death of Mac Miller. It's no secret that women have long been forced to carry the burden of relationships, whether by answering for their partners' mistakes or picking up the pieces of their shattered egos. But there's no need to continue to use art to glorify toxic relationships in which a woman is saddled with her partner's addiction. Shouldering the struggles of those you love—even if it derails your own trajectory—is something women are continually told to do, but it's a horrible message to be broadcasting from a cultural platform—and it's one Cooper actively sought to avoid. As Taffy Brodesser-Akner noted in her New York Times profile of Cooper, he worked to make it clear that Jackson is an "agent of his own ruin," and that while his addiction and spurts of jealousy obviously affect Ally, the onus is clearly placed upon him whenever he does screw up—as it should be. Unlike in previous versions of this type of narrative, Ally's rise isn't directly correlated to Jackson's fall—and perhaps that's why 2018's A Star Is Born is such a step in the right direction.

Cooper's willingness to openly acknowledge that this isn't merely a story about how a woman led to a man's ruin, or how she could have done more to save him. Instead, it emphasizes the way in which an already damaged man can accelerate his own demise. Most importantly, the film forces Jackson to take responsibility for his own actions and reaffirms that it wasn't Ally's job to save or fix him. At a time in which we're addressing double standards in relationships and sexist misplacements of blame, A Star Is Born is an essential part of the larger discussion surrounding the responsibilities of women toward men, and vice versa.

A Star Is Born is in theaters now.

Screenshot via Youtube

While the song should serve as a reminder to your exes

Just a day after dropping new single "Nunya," featuring Dom Kennedy, Kehlani has released the winter-wonderland visuals to go along with. The singer, NYLON November cover star, and mother-to-be rocks some of the best winter 'fits I've seen in a while, including a glorious puffer jacket that could double as a down comforter that I absolutely need in my life right now.

Kehlani is clearly living her best life up in some snow-filled forest hideaway, vibing on the beach at sunset and sipping on something bubbly as she coolly reminds nosy exes that who she's with is "nunya business." There's not much of a story line (unlike her recent "Nights Like This" video); the main takeaway is that Kehlani is busy dancing through a forest, missing no one and chilling amongst people who are clearly not the subjects of the song.

Kehlani is only two short months away from bringing baby Adeya into the world, who she thanked for helping her get through the video process. "Shot that 7 months pregnant in da snow..." Kehlani wrote on Twitter, adding, "thank u baby for da motivation, mommy was FROZE."

Even from the womb, Adeya has been hustling hard alongside her momma. Twitter user @ODtheMC pointed out that this is already her second music video appearance, and she's not even been born.

Get some mulled wine ready and escape into Kehlani's winter getaway, below. Stay tuned for her forthcoming mixtape, While We Wait, out on February 22.

Kehlani - Nunya (feat. Dom Kennedy) [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

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Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images.

As in Black Panther Political Party leader

It's been a running joke that the Black parents/grandparents of millennials were really confused about all of the Black Panther hoopla ahead of its 2018 release. Many of them were anticipating a movie about members of the Black Panther Political Party and didn't know who the hell T'Challa was. Well, those people are about to have their moment, and we're about to have another one.

Variety is reporting that Fred Hampton, the Black Panther leader at the center of the upcoming biopic Jesus Was My Homeboy, could be played by none other than Daniel Kaluuya. Apparently, he is in negotiations for the role. And he's not the only Black Panther alum in the mix. The Warner Bros. project is being produced by Black Panther director, Ryan Coogler. The same article reports that the forever swoon-worthy Lakeith Stanfield—who appeared with Kaluuya in Jordan Peele's Get Out—is also in negotiations, to play William O'Neal, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Black Panther Party.

Coogler and Charles King are putting together a dream cast to tell a difficult story. Hampton was killed by the Chicago Police Department, while his pregnant girlfriend lay next to him, thanks in part to information they received from O'Neal. Whenever it's out, I strongly recommend having Black Panther queued up as a palate cleanser.

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