A few weeks ago I went to see the film ‘Amy’. If you don’t already know, Amy is a documentary styled film about the late jazz/soul singer Amy Winehouse. She was is one of my favourite artists, her songs are painful, honest and truly stunning. Her songs are a good representation of her, she was all about the music, she put her whole self into it. This I feel is becoming a rarity in music, there are so many musical artists doing well now that don’t seem to have much to them, who don’t evoke that kind of passion like Amy did. What breaks my heart is that many people don’t remember Amy for her career and talent, but her downfall. She unfortunately passed away from suffering with bulimia and alcohol abuse.
The film covers her whole life, from when her issues with her eating disorder begun when she was 14 right until her death. What I loved about this film was how raw it was, it showed how intense and dangerous her life became for her, but it didn’t suggest her to be for blame. There is a big problem in mainstream media and general attitudes that drug addiction and mental illness is all down to the person it’s affecting, people saying things like ‘well that’s what you get for getting involved with people/lifestyles like that’. If I had that mindset going into the film, I know for sure it would of shut me the hell up. ‘Amy’ showed how truly gifted this woman was, even if you aren’t into that sort of music there’s no denying it. The director Asif Kapadia beautifully captures Amy’s wonderful personality too, proving that a person is more than their illness and their hearts aren’t completely ‘destroyed’ by such a thing. The film was basically lots of clips from her life, ranging from home videos with her family or her husband at the time as well as various TV appearances and performances. There was a moment in the film where she was performing at a gig as the Grammy awards were being announced. At the end of the song a TV was put on to broadcast one of the categories Amy was nominated for, and she won! The moment she registered what had happened was priceless. Her face was filled with pure joy and shock, it was as though she was thinking to herself ‘is this really my life right now’. All these crazy things were going on in her life, and she still stayed humble and herself.
As she was first starting out in her career, Amy said ‘I don’t know what I’d do if I was famous, I think it would drive me mad.’ This quote completely stayed with me since and broke my heart. Before the film, I didn’t know how much she was harassed by media and paparazzi, she didn’t have a moment of peace. I’m not supporting people turning to drugs, but it’s pretty understandable – it was an escape. All she wanted to do was sing. And now, this amazing artist is no longer with us. It’s fucked up. Even her father was in on it, always encouraging her to keep touring and keep promoting her album instead of getting help (the inspiration to maybe her biggest hit – ‘Rehab’). I’ve never felt more emotional over a film. At the end, even though I knew her her story tragically ended, I burst into tears and WEPT. This is so unlike me, especially in a cinema! I just felt so angry and sad for her. It made me really appreciate my entitlement to my privacy, something I think we all can forget to be grateful for. Yeah you can say ‘she signed up for this kind of life’, and I think that’s bullshit. Of course this comes with fame, but not to this extent. Not to the point where people feel trapped in their homes or trapped in their LIVES.
It needs to change, we could stop truly talented people wanting to put their stuff out there, in fear of this damaging ‘celebrity’ life. Is seeing paparazzi photos of people’s latest outfits and hearing about their new diet really worth destroying people’s passions? I don’t think so.
I’d like to open a discussion about media, the pros and cons of having an insight into famous people’s lives, so please comment your thoughts!