On Sept. 22, Lady Gaga’s new documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, was released on Netflix. The film documents the most recent and major moments in her career, including the production of her 2016 album “Joanne,” her performance at the Democratic National Convention concert, her role on American Horror Story: Roanoke and, of course, her headlining of the last year’s Super Bowl halftime show. However, it is clear within the first few minutes, when we see Gaga in her own element with her family and dogs, that the audience will see a lot more during the 100 minute documentary.
Prior to the film’s release, Gaga released a letter to her fans, or “little monsters,” in which she admitted that she was struck by the film’s “authenticity.”
“I’m just a girl trying to become a woman,” she said her letter. This is the Gaga the film captures. We’re shown a 30-year-old woman embracing a new chapter in her career, one in which she doesn’t need to hide behind meat dresses or crazy wigs. We’re shown a musician struggling to come back with a new look and unexpected sound. We’re shown a person dealing with heartbreak, physical and emotional pain, loss and anxiety. Rather than Lady Gaga, her stage name, we’re shown Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.
Below are the top five takeaways from Gaga: Five Foot Two:
Number 1: The reasons behind her crazy antics
Gaga opens up about the rampant sexism she’s had to deal with since entering the industry. She details how the men in her life, producers and romantic partners alike, made her feel like she wasn’t good enough. She dealt with being forced into the “sexy popstar” box by putting an absurd spin on it to make her feel like she was in control.
“If I’m going to be sexy on the VMA’s singing about the paparazzi, I’m going to do it while I’m bleeding to death and reminding you of what fame did to Marilyn Monroe,” she said.
Number 2: The tension with Madonna
When Gaga first burst onto the music scene in 2009, Madonna was very receptive of her; the two seemed to be very close, and Gaga made no effort to hide the fact that Madonna was one of her biggest idols. In 2011, however, things went south when Madonna publically accused Gaga of copying one of her songs in the hit Born This Way.
“I always admired her and I still admire her, no matter what she may think of me,” Gaga said. “The only thing that really bothers me about her is that I’m Italian and from New York, so if I got a problem with somebody, I’m going to f*cking tell you to your face. No matter how much respect I have for her as a performer, I could never wrap my head around the fact that she wouldn’t look me in the eye and tell me that I was reductive or whatever. Telling me I’m a piece of sh*t through the media is like a guy passing me a note through his friend [that says]‘My buddy thinks you’re hot.’”
Number 3: Who is Joanne?
In an emotional scene, Gaga reveals the inspiration behind her very different, very personal album “Joanne.” The album was named after her father’s sister, who died of lupus when she was 19. The doctors, unsure of what it was or how to treat it, suggested immediately amputating bother of her hands, but her grandmother, unwilling to let her daughter experience life in that way, simply prayed for God to take her.
“Seeing what that did to him and my family was the most powerful thing I experienced growing up,” she said. “I am Joanne. I am my father’s daughter.”
Number 4: Her heartbreak
The film features an interview in which she shares her feelings about her crumbling engagement to actor Taylor Kinney, which she deems the “deepest pain of her life.” She dealt with paranoia, fear, drugs, alcohol and anxiety. She shares how, to her, a successful career tends to coincide with a life of loneliness.
“My love life has imploded,” she said. “When I sold 10 million records, I lost Matt. I sell 30 million, I lose Luc. I did a movie, I lose Taylor. It’s like a turnover. This is the third time I’ve had my heart broken like this. I’m alone, Brandon, every night, right? All these people will leave, and I’ll be alone.”
Number 5: Old Lady Gaga is gone (at least for now)
“We’ve seen me glamorous for almost 10 years,” she said in a meeting with her creative team. “It’s boring,”
This time around, Gaga makes it clear that she wants to tone things down – no crazy outfits, no overly glam hair and makeup. This time, it’s going to be just her, take it or leave it.
“I never felt comfortable enough to sing and just be this way, to just sing and wear my hair back,” she said. “I never felt pretty enough or smart enough or a good enough musician. That’s the good part. The good part is that I didn’t feel good enough and I do now.”
What we don’t know, however, is if this is a permanent change; just months after the very poor reception of her new look and sound, she reverted back to her old ways with her EDM-esque track “The Cure.”
Receiving a 70 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, support from celebrities like Lorde and Christina Perry and a standing ovation during its premier at the Toronto Film Festival, Gaga: Five Foot Two has been generally well-received by her “little monsters”.
“I became a fan of her when I was 11 years old because I loved how freely she lived her life and presented herself,” UM freshman Maya Abrams said. “She represented the different people in the world – the queer community, the music theater community, girls that weren’t into Barbie and lip gloss, which I never was. I plan to watch whenever I have time because I’m very curious of her artistic inspiration.”
Featured photo courtesy Flickr user Lee Chu.