There’s a new version of A Star Is Born coming out with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. The trailer looks pretty damn good and it’s very likely there will be some exceptionally good songs that will come out of this film. It amazes me how we never tire of this story. There have been THREE previous versions of this film (regardless of what CNN’s Entertainment reporter wrote, Judy Garland and James Mason did a version in 1954 that is perhaps the most famous of all the iterations). It’s a great story but it’s also deeply sad how ingrained it is that we know we will lose a percentage of our artists to crippling insecurity, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction and all the various forms that suicide can take. I think the heartbreak of that is why we keep telling this story, it’s almost as though we hope the ending will get different, but it hasn’t so far. The story resonates with us, there is truth to it that we see all around us. But I have to confess it pisses me off. We don’t have enough great artists for this to be our society’s overall view and expectation for artists. I realize that any given individual will have whatever internal issues they will have…but this story shouldn’t be expected, this horrible looming fate. It also shouldn’t be a part of how artists see themselves because that just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom and despair and death. At the same time I don’t deny that artists lean towards some of the darker corners of the heart and soul to draw out whatever it is they create. I just wish that we would add a safety line to our societal story about artists…you know like rock climbers use…a safety line that would keep them linked to the rest of us, linked to a safe haven, a piece of stable ground, a safety line to help them find their way back from those dark corners. A few years back Jeff Bridges was in a film called Crazy Heart. That film is also about an artist descending into those dark places and the exceedingly high price for that descent…but he makes it out. I don’t mind a dark story but I’m tired of all our great artists ending up dead at the end of them…I want more stories where we make it out alive.
Elizabeth Gilbert did a Ted Talk that speaks to this problem, I like her solution.