A quick scroll through social media following Bradley Cooper and Irina Shayk’s split announcement paints a very worrying picture indeed…
On 6 June, Bradley Cooper and Irina Shayk officially confirmed to People that their four-year relationship is over. The pair are now “amicably working out how to share custody of their daughter Lea De Seine”.
The article – which somehow managed to spin this miniscule statement into a 450+ word piece (complete with a video and photo gallery of the now-defunct relationship) – added, somewhat ironically, that “representatives for the former couple” did not respond to People’s request for further comment”. Presumably because they wanted to keep their personal life just that: personal.
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 man at the heart of it directed and starred in A Star Is Born, one of the most successful romantic dramas in recent years. Because Bradley Cooper, as pretty much anyone on social media will tell you, is 100% in actual love with his co-star Lady Gaga. 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.
“Lady GaGa is counting down the days!” Perez Hilton commented alongside an announcement about the split.
“So can we get a Part 2 now?” added another, sharing a clip from Gaga and Cooper’s live performance of A Star Is Born.
“So how many days til Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga announce they are together?” screeched one more.
These breathless pleas for an IRL reenactment of A Star Is Born are nothing new. When Lady Gaga and Christian Carino publicly confirmed to E! News that they had called off their engagement in February (things “just didn’t work out… relationships sometimes end”), the reaction was much the same.
“Awaiting news that her and Bradley Cooper are OFFICIALLY IN LOVE!” said one person at the time, caring naught for the fact that Cooper was, at the time, in a relationship with Shayk.
“Get in there Bradley,” added another.
“BET SHE GETS WITH BRADLEY!!!!” screeched one more.
Things became 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.
Right. Let’s tackle this in stages, shall we?
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are not the first co-stars to be subjected to ‘shipping’ rumours
Gaga and Cooper aren’t the first to see their working relationship subjected to intense media scrutiny. Far from it, in fact.
When Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from husband Brad Pitt on 20 September 2016, Pitt’s Allied co-star, Marion Cotillard was accused of being the catalyst for the break-up, with some sites making baseless speculations that she and Pitt had been involved in a secret affair.
“This is going to be my first and only reaction to the whirlwind news that broke 24 hours ago and that I was swept up into,” responded Cotillard, who was pregnant at the time.
“I am not used to commenting on things like this nor taking them seriously but as this situation is spiralling and affecting people I love, I have to speak up.”
Referring to her husband, Cotillard continued: “Firstly, many years ago, I met the man of my life, father of our son and of the baby we are expecting. He is my love, my best friend, the only one that I need.
“Secondly to those who have indicated that I am devastated, I am very well thank you. This crafted conversation isn’t distressing.”
Then, addressing the tabloid speculation that she and Pitt had been conducting a secret affair on the set of their new movie, Allies, Cotillard wrote: “To all the media and the haters who are quick to pass judgment, I sincerely wish you a swift recovery.
“Finally, I do very much wish that Angelina and Brad, both whom I deeply respect, will find peace in this very tumultuous moment.”
Jennifer Lawrence, likewise, was accused of having an affair with her Passengers co-star Chris Pratt – false claims which caused his (now ex) wife Anna Faris a great deal of emotional distress.
“I talked to Chris about how hurt I felt, even though I knew there was no truth to the stories [that he cheated on her], and he didn’t understand at first,” Faris said.
“I didn’t want to pay attention to the stories but I couldn’t block them all out, either. I’d always taken pride in our relationship, and the coverage, even though it was just false rumours, was making me feel insecure.
“Eventually, Chris came around and understood why it felt s***ty.”
While she went on to say that the rumours made her feel “like a fool”, Faris added that she never once blamed Lawrence for them – nor thought of her as a ‘villain’ or the ‘other woman’.
“Jennifer and I really are friendly, and she was apologetic even though she didn’t need to be, because she hadn’t done anything wrong,” she said.
“She’s awesome, but of course it’s hurtful and also embarrassing when people are saying your husband is cheating on you – even if it’s patently untrue. You still feel, and look, like a fool.”
And Game of Thrones fans recently climbed aboard the hysterical shipping wagon when they became obsessed with the idea that Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke belonged together IRL… you know, despite the fact that the Jon Snow actor is married to Rose Leslie. And so, when Harington recently checked himself into a wellness facility so that he could “spend some time [working] on some personal issues”, people accused Leslie of being a ‘bad’ wife.
Why? Well, supposedly because she was spotted out and about rather than cloistered away indoors, prostate with grief. Actually, though, their argument was far more base: they believed that Daenerys actor Clarke – his ‘true’ partner – would have been a far better pillar of support.
So why do we REALLY need the Gaga/Cooper friendship to be more than it is?
Lady Gaga and Cooper’s friendship – both on and off-screen – has been undeniably captivating.
Gaga famously told E! News: “Bradley is such a kind and loving and real person. I’m so honored to have you as my friend.” Cooper, likewise, told TIME magazine: “I love her so deeply. It’s because we were at our most vulnerable together.”
But, while their inimitable chemistry left fans overjoyed, both Cooper and Gaga have been keen to stress that their relationship is entirely platonic.
“People saw love and guess what, that’s what we wanted you to see,” Gaga said, stressing that what she was doing with Cooper in A Star Is Born was acting. As in, pretending. “When you’re singing love songs, that’s what you want people to feel.”
Well, exactly. And we should remember, too, that 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?
All anyone has pointed out in the wake of Coper and Shayk’s split is this: Cooper and Gaga are single at the same time. They’re both single. He’s single, she’s single. LADY GAGA IS SINGLE AND SO SHE WILL ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY POSITIVELY FALL INTO COOPER’S ARMS, BECAUSE SHE HAS JUST BEEN SAT WAITING FOR HIM TO BECOME AVAILABLE.
Erm, no. 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 spent $1000 buying pizza for her fans. Who’s performing to thousands of people at her Vegas residency every single night. Who is well and truly booked and busy.
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…
Still desperate to see Cooper with Gaga? Still feel the urge to celebrate Cooper and Shayk’s split? Still can’t stop with the toxic shipping? Then you’re pretty much beyond help.
But, when in doubt, it might be worth listening to Lady Gaga’s own words of wisdom before joining the ongoing Twitter conversation.
“Be kind, be kind or f**k off.”
Words to live by, if we ever heard them.
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 Bradley Cooper and Irina Shayk’s split, and to include a reference to Prevention magazine.