a tightly directed portrait of someone who was laughed at for years

You can remember a lot from half time, the new documentary about Jennifer Lopez that came out on Netflix this week. For example, we personally didn’t know that she was the first Latina actress to get $1 million to act in a movie. We had no idea that she still dances and fitness as intensively as in her younger years. But above all: we didn’t realize that Jennifer Lopez really didn’t feel like playing with Shakira.

Two years ago, the two world stars were the first Latinas to play on the Halftime Show of the Super Bowl, still the most-watched TV performance in the world. half time revolves around the preparations for that performance, but Shakira barely appears in the documentary. While she can only come and tell about her children once, half of the images consist of J.Lo fitness, dancing, singing and giving directions. Between nose and lips, Lopez also notes that a Halftime Show with two headliners was “the worst idea ever”.

Of course, the feud between the two was eagerly picked up in the press. But J.Lo is used to the negative attention, as it turns out half time† A montage of magazine covers and headlines shows how Lopez in the nillies was portrayed as a man-eater without talent, even though she scored one world hit after another. To the paparazzi, she’s just a bum. In the most painful archive fragment from the documentary, interviewer Billy Bush flatly asks Lopez what she thinks of her famous derrière. That interview is not new or even unseen, and that is precisely why it makes you think: how could we all laugh about this twenty years ago? Perhaps the following detail best captures the zeitgeist: Billy Bush is the man to whom Donald Trump confided that he would turn married women into pussy could grab.

Ten seconds of Ben Affleck

A documentary about a pop singer who made her breakthrough at the end of the nineties, and which contains archive images that you can only look at today with the blush of shame: we know that principle from somewhere, namely from Framing Britney Spears† In it you can see, among other things, how the Dutch TV star Ivo Niehe asks a seventeen-year-old Spears whether she has had her breasts enlarged. Niehe had to dig deep after the film’s release, but continues to insist that the question had to be seen in context.

Framing Britney Spears want the same as half time: Demand reparation for a singer who has been taunted more than she deserved. The revisionist pop star portrait has become a genre unto itself in recent years, with documentaries about Taylor Swift (Miss Americana), Amy Winehouse (Amy), Whitney Houston (Whitney), Tina Turner (Tina) and Lady Gaga (Five Foot Two† The films are structured similarly. There is room for the criticism of the past, but only to vigorously refute it. And above all you can see the stars at work: in half time is that a sweaty Jennifer Lopez, in Miss Americana a Taylor Swift playing piano, and in Five Foot Two an impressive shot of Lady Gaga dangling from the roof of a stadium, ready for the show.

Apart from some domestic scenes, you rarely get to know much about the personal life of the main character. Lopez’s many exes only pass by on the red carpet in archival footage, and her current other half Ben Affleck is barely allowed to talk for ten seconds. Again Taylor Swift sets the example. She wrote world hits about her former sweethearts, and in recent years had quarrels with Calvin Harris, Katy Perry and Kanye West, among others, but there is little or no place for them in her documentary. Understandable in itself, because that part of her life has already been smeared by the media. Then you better put your own story against it: that of the pop star who does work hard, despite everything.

A model with happiness

Since the rise of the MeToo movement in 2017, more media makers have received criticism about the way they treated women in the past. David Letterman, for example, got the wind for sucking Jennifer Aniston’s hair on TV. An excerpt from Oprah Winfrey surfaced in which she asks the acting twins Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen about their dress size, while the latter is currently being talked about that she has an eating disorder.

It is not journalists who turn up those images, but fans. For them, the new generation of music documentaries brings justice. The fact that certain things are not or less exposed in those films is less important to them than that their idols can finally tell their story themselves, without a talk show host in between.

You want more documentary tips? Today’s pop stars serve you at your beck and call. Just last year Billie Eilish, before the release of her second album Happier Than Everthe long portrait The World’s a Little Blurry from. Olivia Rodrigo highlighted the making process of her debut album in her documentary SOUR† The new generation of singers also seems to believe that what they do themselves is usually better.

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