Stream or skip?


Stream or skip? +2023

As a documentary Dear Lizzo (HBO Max) will fill in the biographical details for those unfamiliar with the journey to fame the Detroit-born, Houston-educated rapper, singer-songwriter and flautist, who is currently enjoying another hit in Special, her fourth Billboard studio album, which was released earlier this year. But together with Lizzo herself love Director Doug Pray (HBO’s The Defiant, floating mass) finds new ways to tell this story that are elliptical, immersive, non-traditional and ultimately inspirational.


The essentials: Lizzo, who was born Melissa Viviane Jefferson in Detroit in 1988, sang with her mother in church, learned to play the flute from a young age, moved to Houston with her parents and two siblings, and endured bullying in middle school for her physique and interests (said Flute, Sailor Moon fanfiction) and eventually focused her creativity on the power of music and performance. Dear Lizzo contains insights into the artist’s writing and recording sessions for Special, especially the title track and “About Damn Time”. But it’s even cooler to see footage of Lizzo’s first live performance as a rapper, the family video selection here, and the singer-rapper’s emotional chats with her dancers as they share their experiences of body shaming and its triumphant downside. complete and utter positivity.

“Like many others, I learned to hate my body,” says Lizzo offscreen, “and it worked. You’re just so disgusted with your skin and your flesh and your muscles and your bones and the way they’re constructed… you want to cut off parts of your body.” It’s self-confessing moments like this that put into perspective what later happened in “Love.” comes as Lizzo solidifies her songwriting voice with 2015’s “My Skin.” Big Grrrl Small World and understands the hard work she must put in to achieve her dreams of musical success. “Because no one fooled me. Nobody tried to sign a fat black girl who raps and plays the flute.” It took a decade or more. She collapsed, got lost, lost her father and slept in her car. But she chased after the music. And today there are Grammys, Emmys, sell-out gigs at Radio City, and a voice of encouragement for everyone out here trying to say that Lizzo, or anyone who might look like her, can’t have it or won’t make it.

Dear Lizzo
Photo: HBO Max

What movies will it remind you of? Lizzo has really ramped up her media presence on the small screen lately. She has an Emmy for Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, her more positive, less cheesy competitive reality show from earlier this year, which found the artist looking for fresh backup dancer talent. and Dear Lizzo‘s appearance on HBO Max is a primer for the film Lizzo: Live in concertwhich the streamer will premiere on New Year’s Eve.

Notable performance: The star of Dear Lizzo is most revealing when it comes to her relationship with her own self-worth. “And then one day I was like, ‘Yo, I’m going to be in this body forever. I’ll be that bitch forever. So you either live your life not liking her or you live your life trying to love her.”

Memorable dialogue: Part of Lizzo’s mission statement is to be present and fight back whenever and wherever her name and public persona become something of a shorthand for disparagement. “Someone calls a girl ‘OK, Lizzo,’ because she’s tall and black and she’s doing something they think tall black women shouldn’t be doing, like dancing and being confident. The only way I can turn Lizzo into a compliment is by being the best version of myself.”

gender and skin: Nothing too crazy here except for a few glimpses of the photoshoot for Lizzo’s unforgettable experience Because I love you album cover.

Our opinion: Already a polymath, Lizzo became a rapper in high school before entering the University of Houston on a flute scholarship and then dedicating her creativity to singing and songwriting, which everyone now knows led to her successful career as a non-genre artist has limit. But all of that was before she hosted and executive produced the Emmy-winning show Watch out for the Big Grrrls, a reality show centered around dancing and body positivity, famously performed James Madison’s 1813 Crystal Flute, won Time’s Entertainer of the Year award, and gave a bold and powerful TED Talk about the black history of twerking. But precisely because Lizzo is here for so many things, that’s the way it is Dear Lizzo is such an insightful documentary and doesn’t need to stay on a single track as it tells the story of the woman who was born Melissa Jefferson. Neither does Lizzo: In one of the Doc’s lighter moments, she even practices her driving skills alongside manager Kevin Beisler.

The elliptical, unconventional format is ideal Dear Lizzo, but there would be more than enough material to work with in any style, as the star herself is so compelling and refreshingly free from pretense. While the writing and recording sessions for their album Special have their moments, love shines most when Lizzo speaks openly about being bullied as a child, her relationship with her late father, and her drive to inspire others as a personality, and wants to use her platform to show women who look like her a validating to give representation. Or as Lizzo himself puts it, “seeing big girls as protagonists, as talents and not just as the punchline of a joke”.

Our appeal: Stream it. For new fans and old, Dear Lizzo features biographical paragons, professional benchmarks, personal manifestos, and proud calls to body positivity from the Grammy-winning singer, flutist, and rapper all at once.

Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenganges

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