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Discussions with Damaris

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  • Damaris Chanza

Treating Tina Turner as More Than a Story

My mom introduced me to Tina Turner when I was a kid. "Proud Mary" and "What's Love Got To Do" constantly echoed in my home. Little did I know my mom was introducing me to an icon.

Originally I wanted to write about the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It" starring Angela Basset and Laurence Fishburne. I wanted to do a movie analysis similar to the one I did for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However, finding a place to stream the movie proved to be a difficult task. During my search, I found an HBO documentary film titled "Tina," released in 2021. Considering that I had never dug deeper into Tina Turner's life, I figured a documentary might give me better insight into the film I grew up watching.

There was only one thing I was expecting to see in the documentary, the abusive marriage with her ex-husband, Ike Turner. Of course, I was right, but I was narrow-minded in thinking that her life could be reduced to its worst moments.

Although I originally planned on writing a film analysis, I was so enthralled by the story that I stopped writing notes around the point in the movie when she was deciding to publicize her story in People Magazine. After watching her life, I don't want to be yet another person who capitalizes on the tragedy of her first marriage. Tina Turner is so much more than a sad story. If you wish to learn about that part of her life, I urge you to read her book, I, Tina. After all, she wrote it with the intention of not continuously answering questions about such a difficult time of her life.

In writing these blog posts, I am part of the media. The media constantly needs new angles to make retold stories sound like news. Considering the documentary I just watched, there are several different angles I could have taken. How religion empowered her, how telling her story helped change the narrative of domestic abuse, how the music industry or the media treated her after her split, how she transformed and influenced rock and roll music, or how she managed to find love later in life. But why?

One of the main things I've learned from the documentary is Tina Turner and Anna May Bullock are not the same. Tina Turner belongs to the public. Her life, her music, everything belongs to the public. I think she's compliant with the lack of control over her life story. At the documentary's end, her husband implies she's done telling her story, almost as if she's done with the limelight. As if she were leaving Tina Turner behind and living the rest of her days as Anna May Bullock. This is her right. She's given us enough and has earned some anonymity.

I love Tina turner's fierceness and her ability to strive for positivity and love despite all her obstacles. Loving her means respecting her. So I will not continue the media's narrative of her marriage. If I ever write about her again, I will write about her music and the beautiful life she currently lives. Tina Turner's voice is a powerful force the world is blessed to hear. Let's listen to it. Let's love her body of work and the amazingness she put into the world.

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