Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Love is a Losing Game - Amy Winehouse

Just in time for Valentine's Day.

Recently I watched the documentary Amy, about Amy Winehouse.

You know, I bought Back to Black in 2007 or so, and I dug it, I really related to a lot of it.

And even now, when I wasted all day listening and watching youtube videos of her, I just want to go outside and smoke a cigarette, and I barely smoke.


The things that pop out to me are that Amy had all the time in the world to just follow her passions. She wanted to-- she says in the movie all she wants to do is smoke weed and sing and write-- but really all of our passions aren't good or healthy. We obsess, we get drawn down into a whirlpool. She certainly did. It may sound silly but if she had a job she had to go to, a boring job like we all want to get away from, then maybe she would have kept her head above water. Don't we all have to clean up and pretend we're fine for work? And then sometimes, it even works, lol. We get outside of our own heads and we are fine.

Two other things in particular are about her style and looks.  Amy's style seems to have become like a caricature of herself, or of a pin-up, like the tattoos on her arms. That says something obvious, though I'm not sure exactly what right now. But morever, the girl was herself. Her messy eyeliner and hair, her regular jeans and belt and tank top with bra showing. How many women wear this? I love that her every-day casual, she was fine with. Bra strap, messy eyeliner, sneakers. No consultant, demographics expert to tell her what to wear.  And there she would go onstage, on a talk show, dressed in some totally normal-girl outfit, with style out the wazoo, though, just being her own strong self. Really listen to her lyrics- this woman knew herself, could articulate herself.This look stands in such strong contrast to me to the extremely expertly made-up and overly smooth look overflowing instagram today. I'd rather the informal, the real.

However, no matter her strengths, her style also harmed her. You know what also killed her, besides the drugs? Bulimia. She was taking (this is all my gleaning from the documentary) all the drugs and alcohol her husband Blake was, but she couldn't have been more than 90s pounds, and on top of that, not a natural 90s pounds, but a body which had been racked by bulimia. She told her parents she was throwing up all her food when she was a teen. But they really didn't do anything about it. In the end, it looked as if her large bubbling-over breasts would be a burden or struggle for her tiny toothpick body to hold. She was all heels, hair and breasts. And isn't this what society wants most of women? No, not really...but on the other hand, yes, in a primary colors, the easiest to see way. Amy started being bulimic as a teen. It's astounding how healthy she looked back then. Her skin was so clear, her body so much bigger. The whole hair and boobs thing reminds me of something I read in Seventeen magazine back when I was a teen, in the 90s. This was before Sassy magazine paved the way (and then somehow got run out of business) for making teen-girl magazines (and later, all magazines, all, followed suit) actually readable and relatable instead of how they all used to be, which was sort of prissily written in instruction form by a non-teen authoritative talk voice. Anyway, in this magazine, they interviewd the man on the street, or boy, as this case is. Actually, this magazine could have been YM, which I don't think is published anymore. YM used to publish a model search and have the model's legs centimeters and other measurements pulblished also. The 90s were not so far from the 60s, I guess... I can still remember so many images from these glossies. Anyway in this interview, printed and published for millions of young girls, a young man on the street, his picture taken,  was asked what made girls attractive, or what a girl should have that he would be attracted to. His answer was that her breasts should make up the majority of her weight.

!!??? This is a logical joke, and now the trend in magazines for young girls is to be all empowering, etc., of course complete with exersize guides.  But in this magazine, stripped of the pretension of caring, they actually published this comment as a legitimate thing, and for young girls to read, in all seriousness.

And Amy succeeded in that, it would seem.  She was strong, a strong person from the start. A personality that wasn't shy and wasn't hiding herself at all. And it takes strength to be so self destructive, to master one's bodily needs until your body is pretty much dying from it. But at the same time, even someone so strong fell prey to this ridiculous ask of women- to be so small in all ways, except in the way of a cartoonish sexual image. I guess there's the ironic answer to the question of all those cartoonish pin ups on her arms She literally made those images a part of her, wrote them on her body, and then became that, as much as she could. There's a part in the documentary where her doctor is saying that he little body can't take all the drugs. Of course the drugs alone were horrid and bad for your health, and all the drinking. But combined with a tiny body in revolt and with no strength due to years of bulimia?

In the documentary at one point Amy and her family and friends are on a tropical island, vacationing for six months or so. She's tiny, riding a horse, holding someone's baby. She's cut her hair to shoulder length, and it's curly and black, natural. This image stays with me. I feel like if she had lived, she would have eventually grown in new directions and styles, like we all do, and this picture of her in a way I had never seen- more natural, less makeup, shorter hair-- made me think of the music she would have made then, in her older, future self. How we all would have loved it!

But of course, that never happened. She was so strong in herself and so sure, and still. Anyway. Enjoy:

Okay, update. I was totally sucked into Amy's world. It was like a mental trigger toward that type of spiral... damn I'm so easy. Then I was sitting in a diner waiting for my late date... and all this goofy music we've all heard a million times was coming on. And I remembered-- that type of intensity that Amy was drawn to, that I am, and that makes everything else seem dim and not worth it in comparison--

it leaves out a few things. Goofiness. And mundanity. Just hanging out, laughing, breathing. And songs like these:

Yes. Just regular goofy normalcy. It's pretty good.
Funny thing is, the guy who wrote this song had his Amy days, too.
Diners and classic rock. Such salves!!

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