It’s a miserable, grey day in Glasgow. I got up and immediately had a mini tantrum about the dish washer and its inability to just empty itself.
With SAD flaring and a kitchen in meltdown, I was flouncy and 5 five years old for a wee bit. Flinging myself on my bed, once I had forged a path to it through all the nail varnishes, hair equipment and inside out clothing, that also cant find time to tidy themselves away.
After 10 minutes of simmering a rage in the fetal position, I got over myself and trailed back into the front room. My boyfriend, almost wordlessly, popped Netflix on for me – the adult version of settling a nonsensically anguished toddler in front of CBBC.
In a pro-boyfriend move, he chose Lady Gaga’s new documentary: Five Foot Two, for me to suck my thumb in front of.
Five Foot Two, directed by Chris Moukarbel, follows Gaga through the recording of Joanne and the preparations for her Super Bowl performance. Along the way we find her reflecting on how her ever increasing successes have impacted her relationships, struggling with a body that seems hell-bent on keeping her in pain and whether “Lady Gaga” can ever do away all the accoutrements of image that her fans have become used to, to just be a woman in jeans and a t-shirt for a change.
In it’s review The Guardian accuses FFT of “wallowing in self-reflection“, an inordinately partonising thing to say anyway, but especially when you consider that Gaga herself states she wants to show the shittiest aspects of fame. This is warts-and-all stuff, what else was she meant to do? Create a documentary that didn’t highlight the impact numerous traumas (including sexual assault) has had on her mind and body and her ability to enjoy the success she has managed to achieve, when that is the message she wants to put out there?
True, this isn’t a glitzy tag-a-long ride with your favourite sleb, its downbeat and serious, and I found nothing wrong with that. Gaga has always been unashamedly straight-faced about what she does, and that’s what I admire about her. She has never come across as needing to be sexy (to paraphrase her in FFT: “when I was asked to be sexy, I tried to do it in the most obscure way possible“), frivolous, funny or less than she is for others. No, she isn’t a laugh-riot, but who cares?! I like a good wallow in self-reflection.
I really enjoyed Gaga’s openness and her willingness to be vulnerable and “embarrassing”. She mulls over how numerous relationships have ended just as she met milestones in her career, heartbreakingly unable to ignore the coincidence. She is also frustrated and bewildered by her peers and heroes (well, Madonna) who have felt the need to gun for her in the press, but not had the kahooners to confront her in person.
We have all felt these injustices and petty grievances (OK, maybe not with Madonna) since school and its comforting to know, that no matter how successful or how rich you get, this baloney follows you about regardless, you just need find your way through it.
Perhaps it was because I was feeling shitty myself, but I found the whole documentary tremendously comforting – even Gaga feels like total shitty, shitty, shit-bags sometimes and that [OBVIOUSLY!] she endures all the pain and loss and heartache we all do, the only difference is, we are lucky enough not to have to shake that all off to perform at the Super Bowl; to paraphrase again:
“there is nothing quite like receiving a bunch of flowers from your ex-fiance the morning you are performing at the Super Bowl…”
This is a great wee documentary, for anyone interested in the creative process, the reality of fame and those who enjoy their music documentaries without the phoniness. It will certainly wind up people who have the idea that famous people shouldn’t moan and gripe about anything, and for that, I like it even more.