Watching Amy the documentary was a stark reminder of the pitfalls of fame

By Nina Steele 

Amy Winehouse was a highly talented young woman, who unfortunately, was also addicted to both drugs and alcohol. Watching her life story being told through the much acclaimed documentary ‘Amy’, was very upsetting at times.

Like in many other cases of troubled souls, the clue to Amy’s problems could be traced back to her childhood. Her parents divorced when she was 10 and it seemed, she never recovered from it.

As if being addicted to drugs and alcohol wasn’t enough, Amy also suffered from bulimia , which according to her mother, started when she was aged 15.

Most of the documentary is quite painful to watch. Because I was aware of her troubles beforehand, I assumed that watching it would just corroborate what I already knew. Instead, it dug deeper than the superficial side of her that, we the public had become too accustomed to.

The documentary was full of unseen footage of the young, carefree Amy, full of life. I felt like I finally got to know the real Amy, not just the caricature that she became and that the tabloids loved to feed on.

Chillingly, she said this, years before she became famous: “I don’t think I’m going to be at all famous. I don’t think I could handle it – I’d probably go mad.” How prescient, one might say.

What I learned in addition to all the other stuff about her troubles, was how much she loved music. She wrote her own songs, and would not have it any other way. She was exceptionally talented.

Unfortunately for her, the combination of exceptional talent and personal demons, was the perfect narrative for tabloid newspapers and a celebrity obsessed culture. She was hounded by the paparazzi, even when it became obvious that she was a dead woman walking. Hers was too much of a juicy story for any of them to care.

Thankfully, not everything about Amy’s life is about sadness and despair. Of course her music will live on, well after most of us have departed this earth. Also, the other positive side of this story, is the loyalty shown by some of her friends.

Three of them stick out throughout the film. Her friend and one time manager Nick Shymansky, along with her two childhood friends Juliette Ashby and Lauren Gilbert. They remained loyal to her throughout and after her death, instead of doing what we have sadly come to expect of so called celebrities friends today, which is to sell their stories to the highest bidder. They took a vow of silence after her death, and it took the documentary makers 18 months to convince them to take part.

Amy had wanted to become a mother. At the end, she died childless, on July 23, 2011, aged 27. The cause of death: alcohol poisoning.


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