In defence of the pop star music documentary

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In defence of the pop star music documentary

For her first woo column highlighting the best in music, writer Zoya Raza-Sheikh explores the tell-all pop star documentary...

Well, SAD girl season has truly hit us. Whether you're stocking up on go-to mood-boosting vitamins or battling off bad vibes with a Lumie lamp – there’s always time to take a minute to reflect on your mental health and Selena Gomez is showing us exactly how.

Earlier this month, Gomez, the queen of self-care, came forward with her soul-baring documentary, My Mind & Me. Taking to Apple TV+, the pop culture icon opened up about her relationship with bipolar disorder, her life-changing illness lupus, and her unfiltered struggle with mental and personal wellness. With a 90-minute run time, the American singer lets us in on her most vulnerable moments. From panic attacks to getting checked into psychiatric facilities, viewers get a first-hand look into the turmoil behind the gleaming image of fame.

While many might seem sceptical of a former Disney child star painting a neat celebrity comeback story about mental wellness, Gomez has done quite the opposite. Earlier this year, the 30-year-old launched a mental fitness ecosystem and, last year, the star has pledged to donate over $100 million over the next 10 years to support mental health services. And, just like her documentary, the star has maintained her best to remain authentic. And, with the aid of director Alek Keshishian – whose 1991 Madonna film Truth or Dare pioneered the genre, My Mind & Mine shines in showing Gomez’s humanity and the graft it takes to heal.

There’s no question – we’re living in the golden age of music documentaries. Everyone from Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga has shared their story, and it’s not stopping there. Posthumous cautionary tales about Amy Winehouse, Avicii and Lil Peep have been made in the wake of their untimely deaths, new biopics of legends David Bowie and Whitney Houston will be landing soon, while new gen icon Lizzo will be giving the grand reveal in her own production Love, Lizzo. As our access to content continues to broaden and markets become increasingly saturated with flashy new shows to stream and an endless reel of films, do we really need another music documentary? Well, yes. From glimpses to behind-the-scenes of daily lives, music documentaries offer creatives an opportunity to shape unfamiliar stories detached from record labels and managing powers. However, as the appetite for the insider look at the lives of our favourite acts increases, we can only hope for the preservation of an artistic story over a tradeoff for a big-money online streaming deal.

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