The Oscars are finally over. While some of us are still stunned by Green Book’s Best Picture win over Roma, the main event that has set tongues wagging is Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s performance of Shallow from their movie A Star is Born.
The movie was initially a front runner to sweep the Oscars upon its release, but failed to keep its momentum. Adding to the disappointment is Cooper’s snub for Best Director, despite his movie being nominated for Best Picture. How is it possible to say a movie is good and not award its direction? There were lots of strange things going on with the Oscars this year, from being hostless to having Bohemian Rhapsody as a Best Picture nominee. But these are discussions for another time.
When it was announced that the two would perform at the Oscars, it was all I could think about, especially after he joined her on stage during her Enigma tour in Vegas. If the Vegas show was an effort to drum up support for their Oscar campaign, then they wholeheartedly succeeded.
There were multiple videos taken of the pair’s performance in Vegas, and I greedily watched everything from all the different angles – how she helped him with the ear piece; the kneeling beside him as he sang his opening verse. I marvelled at their intense, unbreakable eye contact, my mouth agape as they ended the song leaning into each other in an almost embrace. They shared immense chemistry in A Star is Born, but in real life the chemistry has become a bonfire, blazing its way feverishly into our eager hearts.
For every single video of their performance, there are thousands of comments from people shipping them together, despite the awareness of Cooper’s unavailable status. Cooper is currently with supermodel Irina Shayk, and the two have a daughter together. Until recently, Lady Gaga herself was engaged. News of the split emerged after she attended the Grammys without her engagement ring. Speculations were rife the moment the public noticed her failure to thank her fiance in her acceptance speech. The break-up has only added fuel to the possibility of Cooper and Gaga becoming a thing. The question is, what exactly about this pairing has us so enthralled? After all, Cooper and Gaga are not their fictional counterparts, so why would we want them to be?
Shipping actors because of their characters is not a new thing. Stars of CW’s Riverdale Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse share so much chemistry both on-screen and off-screen that fans started to speculate they were in a real life relationship. There were blogs and Tumblr accounts dedicated to sleuthing the nature of their relationship.
Even when Reinhart and Sprouse emphatically stated they were just friends, the investigations did not stop. How vindicated the shippers must have felt after the two were photographed locking lips in Paris. So you see, we believe we can tell the difference between make-believe and reality. If the acting/performance on screen makes us feel like our living rooms are on fire, then it cannot merely be acting. Or perhaps it is just within our human nature to desire love, even when it is not for ourselves. As poet Philip Larkin put it, “in everyone there sleeps a sense of life lived according to love.”
Cooper and Gaga’s chemistry has sent imaginations flying. Even before I watched the Oscars, I was privy to image after image of their performance because it was all over social media. It is not difficult to see why. The hand holding as they moved on stage, the unwavering eye contact as well as the almost kissing, all set against romantic yellow lights. It feels like a goodbye of sorts. Maybe it is. This performance marks the end of their filmic journey together. A month later, we will all find something else to talk about.
Regardless, Cooper and Gaga should be proud of the romance they elicited in many’s hearts, conjuring the kind of magic on the Oscar stage that I haven’t seen since Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová’s performance of Falling Slowly in 2008. While the latter were in a relationship after their movie, let’s hope Cooper and Gaga maintain their platonic relationship and keep the sizzling where it belongs – on screen and onstage.