Domestic Violence in Pop Culture

By Abbey Cates


Domestic Violence in the media has become so normalized, we often find ourselves wishing for relationships we see on the big screen in real life, unaware of how damaging these relationships are. We root for the characters to end the movie madly in love, and even mirror some of our relationships after iconic pop culture moments because it worked for them. Why shouldn’t it work for us?


One example of a movie we find ourselves disregarding the toxic relationship on screen because of the desire to find love is, A Star is Born (2018). The movie starts with pressure and coercion from Jack, the lead male, onto Ally, the lead female, to see each other again. Although she clearly states she has responsibilities to tend to at home, Jack has his bodyguard follow her until she changes her mind. Whether in a relationship or not, a partner or individual should never push limits if one does not consent to the proposed activity. This can create a sense of guilt in a person, encouraging them to do said action, even if they might not want to. The rest of the relationship moves forward, although there is a clear imbalance of power between the two. Jack is a celebrity and encourages Ally to sing with him to jumpstart her career. One major plot in the movie was Jack’s struggle with addiction and how it affected his relationship with his family and Ally. This causes issues in his relationship with his brother when he attacks him after hearing news about the land that was sold. Although Ally was never physically attacked, the emotional abuse is just as significant in how dangerous a relationship can be, and who knows how far Jack could have gone. Another sign of toxicity that occurs in the relationship is the jealousy that Jack faces as Ally becomes more serious and successful in her career, rather than him. He is constantly missing her shows and appearances because he feels as though his popularity as a singer is declining. When he does show up to her award show, he belittles and embarrasses her, taking the attention away from her success. This causes a turning point in the movie when Jack decides to seek out resources for his addiction. While one might believe that this action has repaired their relationship, the relationship is re-establishing the habit of lying to one another to protect the relationship for them to remain together. Ally tends to put his physical and emotional needs above her own, which causes more strain as they try to rebuild their relationship. The movie concludes with Jack’s tragic death as he lost his battle with the addiction he was facing by suicide. Therefore, as we reflect on the story we just watched, and we find ourselves longing for a love story as gut-wrenching as theirs, we must remember the unhealthy boundaries set and the manipulation from the star. The sadness we feel from death overshadows the relationship we just saw because of the normalization of abuse in relationships because of “iconic” romance movies and relationships.


While we find ourselves getting wrapped up in passion and on-again, off-again romances, it is vital to remember that while it might portray one way in a movie, we must set appropriate boundaries and establish effective communication with our partner. You should never feel guilt-tripped into an activity that a partner suggests, even if it makes them happy. Hesitation and pressure are not consensual, even if the person finally agrees to the said activity to satisfy the other party. Lastly, it is important to understand that addiction should never be an excuse fro the way your partner treats you, and you should never feel guilty for maintaining those boundaries to protect yourself. Remember, what we see on a screen isn't always as perfect as it seems in real life.

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