instant replay: a visual analysis of "shallow" at the oscars

by tavis gray

Like sports, but it’s culture.

You may be familiar with the film A Star Is Born. You may also find yourself shocked that this website has yet to cover this film or any of its predecessors (1937, 1954, 1976). The truth is: we were waiting in the wings to touch that nose. The ASIB awards press tour, helmed by Sisyphus, is over, culminating in an Oscars performance that deserves our minute analysis.

The performance opens in a womb. I won’t be swayed on this. I will not be told somethin’, girl.

There was a lot going on in the Dolby Theater Sunday night. There was hair, there was body, there was even face. Many wondered if there would be emotion. Of course there was much, much, much, zoom in, more.

Let’s take a closer look.


Our star-crossed lovers ascend the stage. Indeed, they are leaving the shallow of the audience to rise, to perform, perhaps even to find something together, one might posit: what they’re searchin’ for. It is clear these artists (Left: Mr. Cooper. Right: Ms. Gaga) do not feel this way about just anybody. NOTE: they are holding hands. Holding hands signifies human connection, an emulsion of specific beings, sweat.


And then who could imagine they’d part? Oh, but they had to. For love (interior), even imitations of it, surely cannot exist inside the constructs of performance (exterior). Art (unlove) could never thrive in the presence of lights and trick mirrors. For if one is to long for change (as we are to assume these two do), if one is to escape this modern world, mustn’t one also take power over one’s own hands? Mustn’t one create distance? Must one not throw away hands that may otherwise hold!!


Lady Gaga (here ALLY, and this is not a lie, CAMPANA) takes her seat. It is now her turn to tell Bradley (JACKSON MAINE) somethin’, boy. The distance between them has doubled, the deep end (if you will) has deepened, and thus their art d e e p e n s. It is true that the best (deepest) art is about the distance between two adults who could be together, but would otherwise prefer to perform together. Hot AND true.


Uh oh: it is time to oohhh. We are now the farthest from the shallow we’ve yet been. You may notice that Brad Coops (“Jack”) does not appear. The audience falls off into darkness. Our focus pulls toward Ally’s (Lady Gaga’s) necklace, a symbol for Jackson (Coopies) lack of courage to face his own deep end (risking it all).

[I will admit here to watching and rewinding this part upwards of nine million times; Youtube does not have the bandwidth to track my micro views/self-gifs]


But then what's this? Jackson M (Brad C) cannot handle the distance. He cannot sustain that kind of art making. Insatiable, he moves in as the deep end between our performers shrinks smaller and smaller, like mid-level movie profits or, forgive me, my attention span in the third act of this film.


Our artists (Mr. and Mrs. Maine) get as close as two artists can, which is mouth-close, completely refuting distance (actual feet x deep end feet) as the great measure of what we know to be Good Art. Alas, we arrive again to a bridging of souls. To homeostasis. To connection. To breath…holding hands.

And yet.

Jackson and Ally (B & G) pause. They hold this moment to highest court. Did they…cross the fuckin’ line? Is this the bad times? Can they hurt us? Oh, oh, oh, ah, oh — Why Did You (THEY) Do That!

Should he (Bradley/Jackson) regret this shallowing of the deep? Should she (Ally/Lady Gaga) make the right (deep end) choice and push him back away? SHOULD THEY HAVE MADE OUT ON NATIONAL TELEVISION TO PREVENT ME FROM EVER HAVING TO WRITE THIS PEDANTIC CLOSE READING OF TWO PEOPLE THE INTERNET DEMANDS BE TOGETHER? AND MOST IMPORTANTLY:



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and on a SUNDAY!

and on a SUNDAY!

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