A Classic Hollywood Story: the alcoholic dies at the end
What’s New About the Remake of the Classic Hollywood Story, A Star is Born?
Not a damn thing. But it was a very good movie.
I saw it last week and was moved by the performances of both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga as the film’s leading characters of Jackson and Ally.
Here’s the first thing that’s (obviously) not new: this 2018 film is a remake of a 1976 remake of a 1954 remake of the almost-original 1937, A Star is Born, which was based upon the 1932 movie The Truth about Hollywood with essentially the same plot.
Another aspect that’s not original: Bradley Cooper portrays an alcoholic who’s struggling with his sobriety. Though his character Jackson Maine achieves periods of sobriety in the film, inevitable bouts of relapse occur. (A high recidivism rate is classified by the American Medical Association as a classic symptom of the disease).
As with all alcoholics, The Stranger has been constantly working inside his very soul, ensuring the disease progresses even while abstaining from a drink. It’s as if he never quit.
Bitterly unimaginative in the storyline is that immediately after Lady Gaga as Ally achieves remarkable success, she’s told by her manager (who happens to be Jackson’s ex-manager) to drop all association with the relapsed drunk, Jackson. To finish his debut as Vicar of Public Stigma, the kind-hearted manager completes his plot-appointed and stigmatic accomplice to murder by telling Jackson the same thing about his worthlessness to Ally.
Social Stigma remains the number one reason alcoholics, suffering from an incurable chronic, progressive and fatal disease almost never do the one thing required to save their life: step out, talk to somebody, and ask for help.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet or the legion of versions behind it, don’t read this next part.
Official Spoiler Warning right here, folks.
The antagonist dies. In this version of the film, Jackson commits suicide.
(I told you to stop reading!)
This is untried: the alcoholic, ultimately consumed by the disease, ravaged with utter hopelessness and despair, socially despised and alone – dies.
Incidentally, suicide is 120 times more prevalent among adult alcoholics than the general population.
This movie’s problem is that it has too much in common with reality.
The Stranger NEVER changes His storyline, not even for the likes of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.
√ a movie about an alcoholic’s journey in which he struggles with recovery, the disease progresses mercilessly, crippling him and plunging him into despair.
√ social stigma participates as an accomplice to The Stranger in his murder.
√ the alcoholic dies.
Well fuck me, I wrote a book with basically the same plot.
Almost. Less singing and no Bradley Cooper, unfortunately.
Here is an excerpt from I Almost Murdered a Complete Stranger to illuminate the grave truth about the internal battle in A Star is Born:
Both Alcoholism and Recovery are alive, and both yield powerful, transformative experiences. Alcoholism manifests itself as The Stranger, Recovery as Hope. Alcoholism’s radical life transformation shrinks inwardly, leading to a radically degenerative transformation, from life to death. Recovery’s radical life transformation grows outwardly and leads to a newness of life, our rebirth.
It can go either way. Sometimes you get lucky; sometimes you bleed out and don’t die all the way like I had to.
If not for my last fatal relapse from alcoholism, I wouldn’t have been able to summon any courage to openly share my experiences with this disease. It was required in order to write this tell-all memoir of a 42-year horrific journey straight through the end-phase of alcoholism, I ALMOST MURDERED A COMPLETE STRANGER. (Shameless plug, it’s now available on Amazon AND made Amazon Best-Seller!)
I sure as hell didn’t write this book to nurture my public image. I wrote this book for the purpose of trying to be a small part of saving another alcoholic’s life.
In addition to hoping to expand the conversation of what people have come to expect of alcoholism, the proceeds of this damn book will go to Annapolis-based rehabilitation center Samaritan House. Like many such centers, there’s a lengthy waitlist.
My book’s profits will support the center’s efforts to expand so more folks suffering can get the help they seek.