What We As A Society Can Learn From The 'Amy' Documentary

by Chris James
Getty Images

The coroner's report shows English singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27.

What it failed to mention was the broken heart that also stopped beating that fateful day.

Perhaps, the most enlightening part about the documentary, "Amy," directed by Asif Kapadia, was that the audience was able to view Winehouse as a loving, talented woman with a crippling disease instead of a whirling dervish of heroin, alcohol and debauchery.

The film opens with a young Winehouse playing around with friends as she busts out her signature pipes.

Her happiness is undeniable. She smiles and emanates a sense of peace, both of which were completely absent throughout the press's takedown of the beloved music sensation.

Though she was known for her vocal prowess, her raw, emotional lyrics were what truly made her an artist.

To listen to her was to understand her pain and turmoil, ups and downs, dreams and aspirations.

Above all, it gave us a glimpse into the love she shared with people who held a hand in her downfall.

The relationship between Amy Winehouse and Blake Fielder-Civil was a well-documented torrential downpour of drugs and bad decisions.

They were on-again, off-again, married and divorced. But, at the core of the relationship were two people who loved and saw the best and worst of each other.

For Winehouse, it seemed the wish to get well was constantly at war with her desire to remain with Fielder-Civil.

Winehouse went through rehab stints and periods of clarity and sobriety followed by hard, fast relapses. She tried to have everything.

There are people who make us better, and there are people who turn us into something we never thought we would be.

Struggling with bulimia for most of her life, Winehouse was a woman who had serious issues.

Most of all, she wanted to be this ideal version of herself. But, even her own parents seemed apathetic toward the more troubling, ravaging elements of her health.

Much like her infamous hit, "Rehab," says, "If my daddy thinks I'm fine..." Amy decided to not attend rehab in her early days because of her father's insistence it wasn't necessary.

This is just another shockingly sad look at someone who departed too soon because the people in her life were not holding her back from jumping off the edge.

If there is one other crucial lesson we can take away from this documentary, it's how we as media consumers view famous people's lives as commodities.

The most wrenching part of the film shows clips of comedians who once praised Winehouse, such as Jay Leno and Graham Norton, making jokes about her addictions, appearance and demeanor.

Instead of helping a woman who clearly needed outside support, national television mocked her from all angles.

Who wouldn't suffer from an eating disorder and drug abuse after all that scrutiny?

We've watched the same cycle with Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes.

When we as a culture find a famous person in trouble or at the grips of addiction, our first instinct is to mock rather than help.

As the lightbulbs flash around a disillusioned Winehouse as she walks out of her home, we feel as if these cameras have become weaponized, stabbing Winehouse with every burst of light.

In short, Amy Winehouse was a talent who fell before she was able to reach her full potential.

She was a drug and alcohol addict who struggled with bulimia. While the people who loved her tried and failed in their own different ways, we as a society ultimately failed.

When the world's sentiment is to tear down talent rather than support it, how do we expect these artists to create?