If you observed just the first short while of Sweetheart Gaga’s new Netflix documentary “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s only a pampered pop star who have her every need met with simple of her fingers.
In the starting world, Gaga strolls through her luxurious Malibu estate in a revealing body suit and sweats. She feeds pieces of poultry to her adorable canines. She eats food someone else appears to have prepared on her behalf. When she climbs a staircase lined with star-shaped balloons, she points out they’re to commemorate starring in a new Bradley Cooper movie. She puts her dish down so she can get a therapeutic massage.
— Netflix US (@netflix) September 19, 2017
For a moment the film feels poised to carefully turn into an unwitting parody of fame’s bittersweet trappings. But then it becomes something else totally when Gaga confesses to the camera that the searing pain in her body happens when she gets depressed. It also stems back again to the hip “trauma” she suffered from an injury a couple of years back.
Suddenly Gaga, who is reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, seems relatable. Like anyone else, the woman feels and must deal with her physical pain. You can see, when she’s crying in agony or looking for answers in an appointment with her doctor, the way the torment of the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia wears down her heart.
The revelation of Gaga’s vulnerability only gets bigger as the film continues on. As the documentary offers a glance in to the megastar’s life, it also strangely doubles as helpful information to coping with your own mankind. The fundamental lesson is this: Emotional and physical pain is real, and pretending it isn’t is the road to suffering.
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) September 12, 2017
Some might claim that Gaga is acting for the camera, that she’s being natural to artistically portray rawness. Indeed, the film’s director, Chris Moukarbel, advised Vulture that her supervisor thought a documentary could show that Gaga is “multidimensional.” We’ll never start to see the thousands of hours of footage that become an hour-and-forty-minute movie so it is impossible to learn how she improved from instant to moment.
Nevertheless, the superb editing weaves collectively candid snapshots of Gaga’s personal life (attending a baptism, browsing her grandmother) and the depth of her professional work (participating in at Tony Bennett’s 90th party, carrying out at the Super Dish). You can tell that Gaga is similar to any other human grappling with the whiplash of success followed by disappointment and vice versa. And super fast, she’s not normal any more. She’s getting her makeup done while in a newspaper outfit at a doctor’s appointment. She’s exhausted by the never-ending functional needs of stardom (press interviews, promotional spots, regular travel) and must still meet her followers in the pub with elegance and patience.
To my fans, I love you so much. pic.twitter.com/g2BmmSx02v
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) September 18, 2017
While these moments are clearly less relatable, Gaga somehow manages showing how they’re intertwined with her pain, rest deprivation, relationship heartbreak, and loneliness. She’s not complaining about her circumstances around she’s viscerally aware that they are shaping her in ways that don’t feel right. That fighting is universal as well as perhaps being able to communicate it is why Gaga is a global phenomenon.
On social media and through her Born This Way Groundwork, which focuses partly on mental health, Gaga constantly disorders the stigma of admitting both physical and mental pain. Inside the film, she grieves with her grandmother in the 1974 loss of life of her aunt, after whom her album Joanne is known as. While her grandmother urges Gaga not to become “maudlin” over Joanne’s loss of life, because it took place so long in the past and her princess has not been forgotten, the picture is a moving reminder that family stress never ends — it just steps like an undercurrent through the next generation.
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) September 21, 2017
When Gaga details the gross erotic expectations of way too many male music producers, you can view that being truly a powerful and successful girl in her line of work actually might subject matter one to more misuse, not less. “I’m not a receptacle for your pain,” she says of those makers. “I’m not just a place for you to input it.” Without doubt her admirers will take those declarations with them and wield them as protection weaponry in their own lives.
The film doesn’t nicely resolve all of Gaga’s conflicts, and clearly that’s not the point. Rather the point is that Gaga is aware of she’s privileged to have so many people trying to take care of her pain, so how are other folks in an identical situation without the same resources making it through? The main point is that pain, whether psychological or physical, will always meet up with you, why deny that it’s lurking in the shadows?
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) September 22, 2017
Posing those questions is what makes Gaga, which documentary, unique. A lot of pop superstars have sung about their demons, but she doesn’t mind acknowledging hers off stage in a way that risks eradicating her mystique. That courage doesn’t — and shouldn’t — make her a savior, but Gaga did something vital in leveraging her fame to help others speak their real truth.
You will possibly not know it by looking at her outrageous clothes, sophisticated music videos, and over-the-top performances, but she’s the unusual celebrity who’s content to do the effort of helping dismantle the stigma that traps so many in their pain, brick by brick.