“A Star Is Born”: Wilting beneath the loving gaze

(Spoilers ahead)

There is a darned good reason that “A Star Is Born” has been remade three times, in different eras with different emphasis. But always with enough power to make a mark. There is strong emotional fiber in that story. The current version may just be the very best.

Ally (Lady GaGa) is a struggling singer who has almost given up her dream of a career. She meets Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a superstar driven by demons.

He has the external success, but the inner emptiness, a lack of force, and we see this in the moment when a cop intrudes on their privacy to demand an autograph. Jackson can’t tell the man “no”, protecting his space. Ally punches the guy.

Jackson sees something in her: a strength, a talent, a beauty. Her soul. She certainly sees him (especially in the moment he sings in her club, just for the pleasure of the other performers, not an impersonal crowd of worshipers.) His song: “Maybe its time to let the old ways die.” A song of loss, and pain, and desperate hope. SHE SEES HIM.

And this builds up to one of the “trailer moments”. “Do you write your own songs” he asks. She replies no. Which leads her to a painful truth: she doesn’t want to reveal herself, BE herself. Why? Because every executive she’s dealt with says that they like her voice, but don’t like her face.

Jackson looks at her and says: “I think you’re beautiful.” And her eyes widen, and for the first time she grasps that something is happening here.

Have you ever FELT that? That thrill of realizing someone feels for you what you feel for them? The astonishment? The feeling that something miraculous has happened?

I pray you have. It is one of the most wonderful things in all the world. But you have to be ready for it, or you’ll be consumed by the fire.

His green light was on…for her.

Her “green light” was on…for him.

The difference is that she had a foundation of self-worth to stand on, a fierceness, like a little wolverine. Whereas he was a walking wound.

But the tragedy that is A STAR IS BORN comes from the fact that one of these lovers cannot sustain the other’s gaze.

Have you ever had someone look at you with love and adoration, and felt something inside you wither? Have you ever expressed love for someone and had them recoil in distaste?

I had that pain, of dating the girl of my dreams, and had the horrible experience that the more honest and open I was, the more she backed away. I gave too much of my heart, too soon. Maybe I came off like a liar, or a weakling. Or maybe it was more than she could handle at the time. But what was clear was that it was too much, too soon.

The problem in “A Star Is Born” is that Jackson is so wounded, so frightened of the emptiness within him, that he is afraid he will drag Ally down with him, leading to the tragic conclusion. He would rather end himself than damage the woman he genuinely loves. He cannot believe that he is worth it, or that her love could be deep enough to fill the void within him.

Ally is a survivor: we see that pretty fast. She takes risks, can wear masks and remain herself, can take control of her sexuality and open her heart as only one who has had that heart broken then picked herself up possibly can.

She knows herself, sees her beauty in her father’s eyes. Jackson feels something broken within him, so the adoration of the crowd is actually painful: can’t they see who he is? That he is not worthy of their love?

Ally is the opposite: the adoration finds root in her heart because she has self-respect, KNOWS she is worthy of that acclaim.

If you are going to be able to find love, you have to be able to withstand the loving gaze, not wither and flinch away “If you only knew what I was…”

You have to feel that you could be GOOD for someone you adore…or you will run from them, or sabotage, or worst of all, tear them down to a level where you finally feel comfortable being with them.

Yes, there are worse things than destroying yourself. Destroying a loved one would be among them.

The problem was within Jackson. His “child” self had been trained to destructive behavior by his own beloved and admired father. The answer should have been to repair his heart, going deep and directly into the core of the problem. This is why “The Ancient Child” technique of emotional healing (dividing your consciousness into “adult” and “child” selves and visualizing a nurturing relationship) is central to the Soulmate Process: so that you believe you are worthy, and can give yourself to a loved one without fear that it isn’t enough, or that you will destroy them. So that you treat yourself with the respect and discipline that leads to a healthy mind, heart, and body, as a gift to your own soul, and to your beloved.

It must start within you, so that when that “Green Light” goes on…

You are ready to roll, not crash and burn.




One comment

  1. You describe “’The Ancient Child’ technique of emotional healing [as] dividing your consciousness into ‘adult’ and ‘child’ selves and visualizing a nurturing relationship”.

    What if you’re unsure of how such a nurturing relationship works? What if you’ve had no model for it, or only dysfunctional ones? How did you figure out what a nurturing father’s role should look and feel like, Steve?


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