With addiction in the spotlight, “A Star Is Born” takes on a new importance. The tragic death of Mac Miller and the high-profile overdose of Demi Lovato have shined a light on the shadowy pervasiveness of addiction in the music industry as of late.
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are preparing to release “A Star Is Born”, a movie about two musicians struggling with the toxicity of fame and addiction in the music industry. The time is ripe for a national and industry specific conversation regarding addiction and the resources available to musicians.
This isn’t your ordinary “A Star Is Born.” It’s a salient critique of the machinery that turns talent into marketing campaigns, and of the fragile pride that makes an audience’s cheers at once damning and addictive.
Lady Gaga kicked off conversation at a press conference promoting the film, saying, “I think what would be wonderful is that we intervene early in life when we see people struggling. I think fame is very unnatural. I think it’s important we guide artists and take care of them on a physical level as they rise.”
Gaga’s statement underlines the problem for entertainers, whose bodies and minds are commodified for public enjoyment. When a person is also a product, lines get blurred. For companies making money off entertainers, encouraging trading personal well-being for profit is a successful — and deadly — business strategy.
Cooper and Gaga’s version will be the third remake of A Star Is Born. Previous versions from the ’50s and ’70s starring music icons Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand illustrate how that throughout music history the industry has treated artists as products instead of people, and addiction is a common coping mechanism.
The kind of help that musicians need, but don’t have sufficient access to, extends beyond addiction. Lily Allen told iNews that the small concentration of global decision-makers and “15-year-long contracts” with labels make the music industry more toxic for artists than film and television, leading her to keep quiet about her own experience with sexual abuse in the industry.
Now is the time to start a conversation about putting systems in place to support musicians and make the music industry a healthy environment for artists.