A quick scroll through social media following Lady Gaga and Christian Carino’s split announcement (and that Oscars performance) paints a very worrying picture indeed…
On 19 February, Lady Gaga and Christian Carino publicly confirmed to E! News that they have called off their engagement. Things “just didn’t work out”, revealed a source close to the couple. “Relationships sometimes end.”
The report – which somehow managed to spin this seven-word statement into a 450+ word piece (complete with a photo gallery of the now-defunct relationship) – added, somewhat ironically, that the demise of Gaga’s most recent romance is “not a long dramatic story”.
So far, so normal. Yes, there are breakups which end in fire and brimstone, but there are also those breakups which end with a squeak rather than a bang. These aren’t brought on by infidelity or betrayal: rather, they are brought on by… well, by things just fizzling out. People change, after all. And, sometimes, it’s easier to appreciate the relationship for what it was and what it offered you, wish the other person well, and move on. Zero drama required.
The general public, though, demands more from their celebrity splits than this. Especially when the woman at the heart of it was an Oscars Best Actress nominee for her role in A Star Is Born, one of the most successful romantic dramas in recent years. Because Lady Gaga, as pretty much anyone on social media will tell you, is 100% in actual love with her co-star Bradley Cooper. The pair – who play the film’s doomed lovers, Ally and Jackson – share too much chemistry, too much raw sexual heat, to not be a couple in real life.
“Awaiting news that her and Bradley Cooper are OFFICIALLY IN LOVE!” one Facebook user commented underneath an announcement about the Gaga Carino split.
“Get in there Bradley,” added another.
“BET SHE GETS WITH BRADLEY!!!!” screeched one more.
Things got even more hysterical following the 2019 Oscars, where Gaga and Cooper performed their Oscar-winning song Shallow together. “Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper about an inch away from a whirlwind love affair on live TV,” wrote one Twitter user.
“I’ve never wanted a couple to happen more than Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga,” said another.
Of course, there are those who have recognised that Cooper is engaged to long-term partner Irina Shayk, with whom he shares a young daughter, Lea.
However, they haven’t quite acknowledged it in the way you might expect…
“Now all we need is Bradley to split with his fiancé and they can live happily ever after,” said one, adding a smiley covered in hearts to their comment.
“Irina Shayk after watching Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sing together,” wrote another, adding a GIF of a man blinking in stunned surprise.
And still one more said: “Let’s see if Bradley leaves his baby for a bad romance…”
Right. Let’s tackle this in stages, shall we?
Yes, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s friendship has enchanted the world…
In one interview, Cooper confessed that he immediately “fell in love with [Gaga’s] face and eyes” at her screen test. And, as Gaga recalled at their first joint press conference, “he really wanted to see me with nothing.”
“I walked down the stairs from my house for the screen test and Bradley had a makeup wipe and wiped my face with it,” she said, according to Vanity Fair. “For someone who doesn’t feel safe all the time, he made me feel so free. At the same time, he’s so laser-focused while he’s working. I got to live my dream. There could be 100 people in the room and 99 don’t believe in you, just one—and it was him.”
And, as Cooper put it in the same interview, the pair immediately bonded over their similar background and upbringing.
“I didn’t know you were Italian,” he said. “I remember when we first met, after 10 minutes we were eating homemade food that she cooked—I love to eat—and that was actually a huge bond that we both came from East Coast Italian-American families. So we had a real synchronicity on that level from our upbringing.”
It wasn’t until after Gaga convinced Cooper to use his real voice to sing in A Star is Born, though, that she earned his trust. As the actor/director told People of his friend and co-star: “I made a friend for life. As great as this movie was, the thing that I think I’ll take away forever is the relationship I have with her because she is an incredible person. I’m very lucky to have worked with her.”
But why do we REALLY need the Gaga/Cooper friendship to be more than it is?
Life is not a cheap When Harry Met Sally knockoff: men and women can actually share a friendly conversation without falling into bed together. And, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, isn’t it more wonderful to hear about a working relationship based on mutual trust and respect?
As psychotherapist Paul Hokemeyer tells Prevention’s Leah Groth: “In a world that’s become mired by sexual aggression, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s deep respect and admiration for one another is refreshing and inspirational.
“It proves that men and women can relate to each other as equals, vulnerable human beings who rely on one another for support as they grow into better, more evolved versions of their selves.”
Exactly. And isn’t it better to believe that Gaga and Cooper value each other as individuals, rather than sex objects?
Also, why do we care if Lady Gaga is single or not?
It should go without saying there is so much more to Lady Gaga than any man she’s sharing a bed with. This is the very same Fame Monster who wore a dress made of actual f**king meat, just to make some sort of deep artistic point. Who brought four LGBT service members to the VMAs. Who invited rape victims on stage with her at the Oscars for her performance of Til It Happens To You. Who shared the raw struggle of her fibromyalgia journey with the world. Who dropped $1000 on pizza for her fans.
No, Gaga’s not some reality star who relies on her colourful personal life to make a buck: she’s an award-winning singer, songwriter and actress, too. Strike that: she’s a mother-f**king icon, for Christ’s sake! It’s genuinely depressing that we’re lumping her into the gross “who’s sleeping with who?” section of the fish-rag tabloids.
And, most importantly of all, did anyone actually pay any bloody attention to the ending of A Star Is Born?!
Spoiler alert: A Star Is Born is not a beautiful, aspirational romance. Jackson may support Ally’s career at the beginning, but, when her fame begins to eclipse his, he bitterly accuses his wife of becoming a pop music clone. As his toxic relationship with alcohol spirals out of control, he becomes a shadow of his former self – and, when Ally steps up to collect her first ever Grammy Award, he staggers drunkenly onto the stage behind her, soils himself in front of the world, and promptly passes out.
So far, so romantic? Hardly. But this film doesn’t set out to give us a love story that soars and inspires. Rather, it seeks to break the taboos around mental health and toxic masculinity – and reminds us that, no matter how hard we might try, it is impossible to “love” someone out of addiction. As the “three Cs” of addiction recovery state: you didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it and you can’t control it. Because, while you can educate yourself about addiction, you can’t make someone quit… nor can you do the work of recovery for them. They have to want to get better, and they have to steer themselves towards that goal.
A Star Is Born doesn’t end the way audiences want it to: they desperately crave a happy ever after, however unrealistic it may be for Jackson to click his fingers and suddenly be cured. It is for this reason that so many people are desperate for Cooper and Gaga to take the story on in real life and give it the fairytale ending of their dreams.
However, they’re forgetting the terrible lesson at the heart of Jackson and Ally’s love story. You know, the one about the glare of fame and the havoc it can wreak on relationships?
Exactly. It’s best that Gaga and Cooper remain friends, to be honest. Because if they start living out their movie romance IRL, it’s only going to end with death, despair and overwhelming grief. And we’re quite keen to see what the duo have planned for next year’s Oscars submission, to be honest…
This article was first published on 20 February following the reaction to Lady Gaga and Christian Carino’s split. It has been updated to reflect the response to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance at the 2019 Oscars, and to include a reference to Prevention magazine.